shorter falls to delta state

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Shorter Falls To Delta State

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There was a lot to be positive about in the Shorter Hawks’ home opener against No. 17 Delta State. Unfortunately, there was too much negative to salvage an upset.

Shorter lost five fumbles, including four by sophomore quarterback Aaron Bryant, and allowed 24 points off turnovers as the Hawks ruined an upset bid and lost to Gulf South Conference foe Delta State 38-17 Saturday at Barron Stadium.

Shorter outgained the Statesmen 457-325, yet lost control of the game via ball security.

“I’ll take an ugly win over a pretty loss any day of the week, and that goes for everyone else,” said Shorter defensive coordinator Julius Dixon. “We have to go back to the drawing board and change the things we didn’t do right.”

Hawks running backs Kartez Carr and B.J. McCoy combined for 293 rushing yards and Shorter limited Delta State quarterback Tyler Cameron to only 196 yards, yet the Hawks never led in the final 44 minutes of the game.

The game began with a Delta State three-and-out, and Shorter immediately moved the ball, utilizing Carr and McCoy. The offensive line continued to open holes for both backs and allow them to get into the second level.

Carr finally broke free of both linebackers and secondary and scampered for a 37-yard touchdown. The defense held up on two more drives and the teams entered the second quarter with an upset brewing.

Carr said it was integral that the Hawks get a score early and make a statement of where the game was headed.

“We made it even a point in practice to make a statement early,” Carr said. “We practiced with hard work and intentions every day, and that was just it paying off.”

Momentum changed early in the second when the Statesmen (5-1, 1-1 GSC) blocked a punt and D’Quan Bates recovered the ball and took it into the end zone to tie the game.

Shorter (3-3, 2-2) appeared to counter, picking up a few first downs on the next drive and getting past midfield. But Bryant bobbled a snap and turned it over. Delta State went 53 yards and scored on a 1-yard run by senior receiver Justin Leavy.

The Hawks put together another drive relying mostly on McCoy and got inside the 5. Bryant bobbled the snap and gave the ball away again, and Cameron drove his team down the field for another 1-yard score.

But the Hawks kept fighting, salvaging a field goal before halftime. The team went back to the ground to open the second half, and Carr broke another run for a 30-yard score to make it a 21-17 Delta State lead.

Carr and McCoy both agree that their one-two punch has potential against any opponent and can prevent defenses from focusing on a single player.

“He gets his yards, and I get mine,” Carr said. “They can’t key on any one guy, and we are able to feed off each other with every big run.”

The Statesmen offense began struggling again in the third, only scoring a field goal off a fumble recovery. Shorter leading tackler Jevaris Jones credited his coaches’ game plan for focusing on Delta State’s offensive style and exposing any weaknesses.

Early in the fourth, Shorter blocked a punt and took over just 25 yards from tying the game. But a hot offense suddenly went cold for a three-and-out, and a 33-yard Kenny Langford field goal was missed.

Cameron saw the opportunity gifted to the team and finally got a big gain, hitting senior receiver Jarvis York on a 64-yard catch.

Senior running back Eric McCardney then made it a two-possession game with a 6-yard touchdown run with 3:29 left.

Bryant fumbled for the fourth time and freshman linebacker Keinje Thomas ran 51 yards for the final score for the game.

With the multiple miscues, Hawks teammates made sure to keep Bryant in the right mind moving forward.

“We just tell him that the stuff that happened is in the past,” McCoy said. “What happened has already happened. You can’t go back and change it. Just have to focus on the next play.”

The loss ends a surprising two-game win streak that included a win against Division I FCS team Southeast Missouri State.

The Hawks still have many games left in GSC play, and it begins with a trip to Livingston, Alabama, next Saturday to take on West Alabama.

But McCoy said the mistakes make the team hungry and ready to show other teams in the conference that they can contend.

“The mistakes certainly keep us ready,” McCoy said. “They kept us focused to go back to practice and see what we did wrong. Then next time we come out in a game like this, we don’t make the same mistakes.”

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