Holly Pond High did everything right Thursday night — almost.

What the Broncos still need to learn is how to finish and win ballgames.

That was evident for the second straight week as Holly Pond was defeated 20-7 by Cordova in Class 3A, Region 5 play.

“We’re still not doing the little things right,” Broncos (0-2, 0-1) coach Nate Ayers said. “We’re not wrapping up on tackles and we’re not seeing the tight end when he’s wide open — just little things.

“But we don’t expect anyone to feel sorry for us because we don’t feel sorry for ourselves. No excuses.”

The game was even closer than the score indicated because the Blue Devils (1-1, 1-0) scored a meaningless touchdown with less than three minutes left to play.

For the second consecutive game, the Broncos led 7-0 at halftime, only to finish on the losing end.

“You guys are only three little things from being undefeated,” Ayers told his team. “Those little things have put you where you are.”

The game started in Holly Pond’s favor as the opening kickoff was short, leaving a 39-yard field to work with. However, it took until the second quarter for the Broncos to take advantage.

On the opening drive, Holly Pond drove to the 15 before fumbling the ball over to Cordova. Six plays later, the Blue Devils returned the favor, with Tyler Al-Dijaili covering, and the Broncos had the ball with only 45 yards to the end zone.

Field position stayed in the Broncos’ favor. Seven plays after a Holly Pond punt, Cordova turned the ball over on downs on a fake punt. Jonathan Hammonds tackled the ball carrier for a 1-yard loss, giving his team the ball on the 33.

A 27-yard pass from Gunner Lemons to Carter Hays was sandwiched between two runs by Trent Shoemaker. On the second rush, Shoemaker scored from the 1. At the 10:38 mark of the second quarter, Luke Calvert’s point-after made it 7-0.

To start the second half, Cordova got the same break as Holly Pond did in the first — a short kickoff for good field position. But the Blue Devils took instant advantage, scoring seven plays later on a 28-yard run by Taurus White. The two-point conversion attempt failed.

“We got in some formations that we thought we could take advantage of in the second half,” Cordova coach Woody Smothers said. “I felt like we were on the verge in the first half. We just couldn’t get anything to happen for us.

“I told the kids to keep playing hard and keep doing what you are supposed to do and it will happen.”

On the ensuing possession, the Broncos drove the length of the field only to turn the ball over on downs — by 1, maybe 2 inches — at the 29.

Cordova took advantage by scoring on its next possession, which came on the next-to-last play of the third quarter.

The Blue Devils’ final touchdown came minutes after a Lemons’ pass was tipped at the line of scrimmage and intercepted by a defensive lineman.

“Right now, a win would break it open for us,” Ayers said. “If we can learn to finish and learn how to win, this team can be pretty good.”

Stan Veitch can be reached at 256-734-2131, ext. 258 or at stanv@cullmantimes.com.

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