Short-handed Penney falls to Princeton

By Levi Smith News-Press Now
Posted: November 3, 2017 - 10:53 PM

Down its star athlete, Hamilton became the latest in a long line of teams victimized by an opportunistic Princeton defense as the Hornets fell to the Tigers 46-16 in the Class 1 District 8 championship Friday.

Latroy Harper was out with an MCL injury. That left Hamilton handicapped.

While Hamilton coach Caleb Obert was proud of his team’s effort, he noted that the team’s six turnovers did not do them any favors.

“Our effort was there, I felt like we were in good position most of the night, but they made plays and we didn’t. Every 50/50 ball they got and we didn’t. I’m proud of my kids for the way they fought in the end but at the same time they didn’t execute the way I’d like them to,” Obert said. “Obviously you take our best player off the field we aren’t a better team, but we were still only down 10 in the third quarter with the ball and then turned the ball over way too many times.”

Despite the final score, Hamilton did not prove to be easy prey for the majority of the game. Until the Tigers scored 20 unanswered points in the final quarter, the Hornets were only down 26-16 and driving on the Tigers defense with bruising runs from junior running back Justin Knudsen, when an inopportune fumble by backup quarterback Ryan Cook gave the Tigers the ball back.

It was one of the sophomore’s five turnovers on the night, as he struggled to fight through a hand injury he suffered in the second quarter.

On the next Hornets drive, Princeton defensive back Clayton Sweeten snagged a 46-yard interception return for a touchdown, his second of the day. Already having a great night, the senior didn’t slow down and picked off Cook on the next two defensive possessions as well.

Add in a 64-yard rushing touchdown by Tigers quarterback Andrew Smith and a 33-yard receiving score for tight end Blaine Millburn, and Princeton had turned a tight game into a devastating blowout in a matter of minutes.

Princeton coach Thomas Hotmer touched on how his team has developed the killer instinct it put to use Friday night.

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