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Beatty football runs wild to beat Mineral County

The Beatty High School football team went into last week’s game against Mineral County with a 4-2 record. In the four wins, the Hornets outscored their opponents 158-18. In the two losses, they were outscored 119-36.

How would the Hornets fare in a tight game? Coach Leo Verzilli got his answer Friday night in Hawthorne, and it was a positive one.

The Hornets surrendered almost 1,000 yards on defense, but their offense answered the call each time, with senior quarterback Jacob Henry scoring on a 12-yard run in the final minute to cap a wild 66-64 win over Mineral County, spoiling the Serpents’ homecoming game.

“They threw the ball well, they ran great pass routes,” Verzilli said. “The majority of their ground gained was through the air. They broke a few big runs, but for the most part we held their running game. We made two or three stands on fourth down and got the ball back.

“I don’t think anyone punted, there were no interceptions and no fumbles.”

While both teams were putting up points at a crazy pace, they were not mirror images of each other.

“We would control the ball for three or four minutes and score, then they’d get the ball and score in a minute or two,” Verzilli said. “It was back and forth. We didn’t have an answer until the end. We went into man coverage, and that worked a little better.”

Mineral County junior quarterback Seth Bozzi was spectacular, connecting on 18 of 23 passes for 581 yards and five touchdowns. His longest play of the game was an 81-yard scoring strike to junior Tony Torres, who caught four of Bozzi’s scoring passes and eight passes for 325 yards overall.

But the Hornets had weapons of their own, and they were effective against the Serpents’ defense.

“Henry must have run the ball 30 times, and it was for 5 yards, 9 yards, 5 yards, 6 yards, they weren’t big, giant gains but we just kept churning out first downs,” Verzilli said. “And Fabian Perez had a big night. Our wedge up the middle was working really well. We just pound and pound and pound.

“We connected on a few passes when we needed to. Everything that needed to be done, they stepped up. It was great to see.”

The Hornets led throughout the first half, but an onside kick early in the third quarter swung the momentum toward the home team. But the see-saw battle continued, and the Hornets wound up with the ball in the final minutes with a chance to win.

“I told the kids we had all three timeouts so we could manage the clock and stay on the ground,” Verzilli said. “As soon as I said that we’re going to run this play, get to the line of scrimmage and run it again, then get to the line of scrimmage and run it again.

“They weren’t ready for it. They watched Henry run about 12 yards to the end zone.”

Mineral County had one last shot, getting the ball back after Henry’s touchdown with 50 seconds left. Three long passes brought them inside the Hornets’ 20-yard line, but the Serpents’ last gasp died on a failed fourth-down conversion at the Beatty 7.

“We made a lot of mistakes, but I was real proud of my kids,” Verzilli said. “They kept their heads up. They were ahead most of the game, fell behind and refused to give up. They came back from behind to win by two and then stop them on the 7-yard line and make a stand when they could have easily folded. It was one of the best things I’ve seen since I’ve been here.”

Beatty (5-2, 2-2 1A South) wrapped up its season Thursday night at home against Indian Springs (1-3, 1-5), but the satisfaction of last week’s win likely will stay with the Hornets for a while, especially with playoffs not in their future for the first time since 2013.

“There was a lot more learned that night than Xs and Os,” Verzilli said.

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