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Hazel Green defender Percy Burnett tries to bring down Austin High's Frederick Moore after Moore hauled in a pass for a first down. Austin won 31-14.
Daily photo by Gary Cosby Jr.
Hazel Green defender Percy Burnett tries to bring down Austin High's Frederick Moore after Moore hauled in a pass for a first down. Austin won 31-14.

Austin turns Hazel Green black and blue
Second-half fumbles worrisome to Norwood

By Josh Cooper
jcooper@decaturdaily.com 340-2460

Even in victory, Austin High head coach David Norwood looked defeated.

A 31-14 win over Hazel Green did little to lift Norwood's spirits as the clock hit zero.

Two fumble recoveries by the Trojans in the second half made an interesting game out of one that appeared to be finished.

"We made some stupid mistakes in the second half that led to 14 points," Norwood said. "Good football teams do not do that."

One week ago, Norwood said that the Black Bears (3-4, 2-3 in Class 6A, Region 8) needed to win all their remaining games to have a chance at making the playoffs. After the win over Hazel Green, Norwood's focus was not on enjoying the moment, but instead on helping his team improve.

The first fumble occurred on a botched snap in the third quarter. With Austin winning 24-0, Hazel Green defensive back Matt Guyette picked up the loose ball and raced down the sideline for a 61-yard return.

The second occurred with 6:27 remaining in the fourth quarter on an almost identical play.

This time, defensive back Howard Anderson was the beneficiary, returning the ball 46 yards for the score to narrow the margin to 24-14.

On the Black Bears' ensuing possession, the offense that built a 24-0 lead in the first half returned. The Black Bears used four running plays, which were capped off by a J.J. Marshall 12-yard scoring run to put the game away at 31-14.

"We gave 14 points away," Norwood said. "They didn't earn it."

In the first half, Austin's defense did a good job of stopping Hazel Green and putting the Black Bears' offense in solid field position to start drives.

The Trojans (0-7, 0-5) gained 1 yard in the first half.

"Our defense did a great job," Norwood said. "I don't think we let them across the 50-yard line in the first half."

In the first half, the Black Bears scored early and often.

Their first touchdown was set up by a Hazel Green fumble on its own 15-yard line. Three plays later, Ethan Netherton punched the ball in from the 2-yard line to give Austin the early 7-0 lead.

The Black Bears scored again on their next drive when Netherton found Jacolby Moody in the end zone on a 5-yard pass play for a 14-0 lead.

Norwood chose to use with a two-quarterback system Friday, using Netherton and Justin Jones, who scored the Black Bears' next touchdown with 9:14 left in the second quarter on a 2-yard run up the middle.

Netherton completed 11 of 16 passes for 84 yards, and Jones was 7-of-12 for 106 yards.

D'Nico Best led the Black Bears in rushing with 69 yards on eight carries.

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