Hamilton, Mo. — Hamilton picked up a 43-20 win over Lathrop Friday night at Alumni Field.
Senior Brock Swindler led the Hornets’ ground attack with a workhorse-like effort of 109 yards and two touchdowns on 24 carries.
“We knew he was going to have to carry the load and he did great,” Hamilton coach Caleb Obert said.
Swindler got the start with senior running back T.C. East out.
“Brock is a tough guy, he is not somebody who will just roll over and die for you,” Hamilton junior wide receiver LaTroy Harper said. “He has got a lot of heart and I think tonight proved that.”
While Swindler was the workhorse, Harper added the exclamation point to the win on the first offensive possession of the second half for the Hornets.
Harper did his best Tommie-Frazier-versus-Florida impression, spinning out of four would-be Lathrop tacklers for a 20-yard touchdown run out of the Wildcat formation to put Hamilton up 29-7.
“I thought he had a five-yard gain and I said ‘good play’ and then he scored a touchdown,” Obert said.
It was all Hamilton (3-0, 1-0 KCI) from the get-go as the Hornets took the opening drive 48 yards before Swindler danced his way to a three-yard touchdown run.
After forcing a Lathrop turnover on downs, Hamilton was right back to work pounding away at the Mules’ front four. This time it was senior quarterback Jaran Richman who wiggled into the end zone. On the PAT, Hamilton fumbled the snap but the quick thinking Swindler scooped up the ball and rumbled for the unconventional two-point conversion.
Hamilton forced what looked like another third-and-out situation, Lathrop recovered a muffled punt after the ball struck the foot of an unsuspecting Hornet blocker. The Mules couldn’t make anything of the second chance, giving it back up after a failed fourth down attempt.
The Hornets couldn’t take advantage of the stout defense, thought, as Richman fumbled on the first play of the drive, putting the Mules on the Hornet 43-yard line.
This time Lathrop capitalized on the turnover as Brock Lewis found Drake Lewis wide open for a 39-yard touchdown strike to cut the deficit to 15-7.
The teams traded possessions before Hamilton found pay dirt again. The Hornets recovered from a first-and-20 on their end of the field for Swindler’s second touchdown run of the night — a one-yard dive over his blockers.
The Hornets had a chance to add to their lead before halftime, but failed to convert on fourth-and-sixth on their 15, taking a 22-7 lead into the locker room.
Hamilton’s defense continued to swarm the Mules’ offense as they forced the second Lathrop fumble of the night. Junior Kenney Pulley scooped up the loose ball, but a block-in-the-back penalty brought back the big man touchdown. The recovery led to the Harper-touchdown run.
“We couldn’t block them. We knew they had a good front four, but they were better than we thought,” Lathrop coach Chris Holt said. “They were just way more physical and ran to ball better than we did.”
Richman got back into the fold with a one-yard touchdown run — his second of the night- to give Hamilton a commanding 36-7 lead with just under four minutes left in the third quarter.
Lathrop (2-1) ended Hamilton’s 21-straight points with a one-yard touchdown run by Brock Lewis with 10:28 left in the fourth. After a blocked extra point, the Hornets lead stood at 36-13.
Harper added his second touchdown of the game with 8:42 left in the fourth quarter with a one-yard run. He set up the touchdown with a 41-yard run that saw Harper make one man miss in the backfield before outrunning most of the Mule defense.
The Mules continued to plug away on offense, grabbing another rushing touchdown for Brock Lewis, his second rushing and third total touchdown, to make it 43-20.