ESSEX >> The Essex Hornets' football team opened up the home half of their program's 50th season in impressive fashion Friday, getting nearly everyone involved not just on the field, but in the end zone. The Hornets got touchdowns from five different players en route to a 49-10 throttling of Mount Anthony.
Despite the final score, it was the Patriots that actually got the first score of the game, as they used a flea flicker to get into Essex territory, and Ryan O'Neill kicked a field goal at the 7:48 mark of the first quarter to take a 3-0 lead.
The Essex response was swift, as they came out and immediately established what would be a dominant rushing attack all night. "We were able to get to the outside pretty effectively," said Essex coach Charlie Burnett. "We got some great blocking from our split ends. Ryder Thornton and Nick Fagnant really softened up the edge for us, which you really need in the Wing-T offense."
The first Hornet to reach pay dirt was junior Jordan Hines, who ran 20 yards on the fourth offensive play of the game for Essex.
For a moment, it looked like the Patriots might have an answer to the quick Hornet drive, as they were led by O'Neill into Essex territory. However, a deep ball down the right sideline was deflected by Essex corner Anthony Hope and pulled in by Otis Crock for the Essex interception.
Crock is also the Essex quarterback, so he got the chance to lead the ensuing drive, and did so with aplomb, scoring the two-yard touchdown himself. "It was pretty cool to get the score after the interception," Crock explained. "I try to put equal effort into both sides of the ball."
Crock drew his coach's praise after the game. "Otis is a great defensive back," Burnett said. "He plays quarterback, but his real skills are out there in space being an athlete. We're pretty sure he's going to pick off a lot of passes before the season is done."
The interception seemed to be a bit of a turning point for the Essex defense, which forced their first three-and-out on the ensuing possession, and didn't allow another score until the starters were done for the night.
As for the Essex offense, they were just getting started, and the ground game ran rampant, with Hunter Smith the next runner to reach the end zone, scoring on a four-yard run with 9:18 to go in the second quarter. Then it was Tyler Roberge who put the Hornets up 28-3 with just 1:13 remaining in the first half, and after a quick three-and-out from Mount Anthony, the Hornets completed a four-play drive with a 23-yard touchdown pass from Crock to Hines just before time ran out in the first.
Essex sealed the deal on the first possession of the second half, making it a perfect six touchdowns in six drives for the starters, as Crock scored his third touchdown of the game on a 1-yard run after Hunter Smith caught the sideline just before the end zone on a big run. "The guys up front really stepped up," Burnett said. "Nick LaBonte centers the ball for us, and he's done a fantastic job these first couple weeks."
With the Essex starters out, it was time for Mount Anthony to get their crowd going a bit, with an 88-yard scamper from junior Will Fischer, which cut the lead to 42-10. Essex running back, Michael Ashley, returned the favor a quarter later with a 50-yard run, giving the game its final score.
Essex moves to 2-0 on the season, while Mount Anthony falls to 0-2.