By Ken Lay

Brad Taylor couldn’t hide his excitement Friday night.

Taylor, Karns High School’s football coach, saw his team do something it hadn’t done during his tenure at the school.

“I’ve been here for six years now and this is the first time that we’ve won our first game,” Taylor said after the Beavers notched a comeback victory over Hardin Valley Academy on a sultry evening in the 2021 season opener for both schools. “I’m just so excited for these kids.”

Karns spotted the Hawks a touchdown before rallying back to claim a 21-7 victory.

The Beavers opened the game by recovering an onside kick but promptly fumbled and the Hawks recovered and went on to cash in when Tayvon Morelan scored on a two-yard plunge. HVA kicker John Aragon added the extra point to make it 7-0 midway through the first quarter.

Then, DeSean Bishop answered the call for the Beavers.

Bishop, a junior running back who fumbled on the opening series, helped Karns pull even a short time later.

He culminated a short three-play, 54-yard drive when he hauled in a pass from Beavers’ junior quarterback Cassen Huffaker and raced 49 yards to the end zone. Walker Lockhart added the game-tying PAT, knotting the game 7-7 with 4 minutes, 54 seconds remaining in the opening frame.

Bishop, who has a scholarship offer from the University of Tennessee, added an early second-quarter touchdown run to give Karns the 14-7 lead it enjoyed at halftime.

Bishop rushed for 274 yards on 31 carries, shouldering the bulk of the offensive load for the Beavers, who forced the Hawks (0-1) into four turnovers.

Taylor commended Bishop for his effort in Karns’ first game against the Hawks since 2014.

“He’s a workhorse,” Taylor said of Bishop, who was one of multiple players on both teams to be plagued by cramps in the game. “We sure are glad we have him.

“He was cramping up a little bit, which happens in the first ballgame. But even after that, to be able to come back and finish after he’s been cramping, he’s a tough dude.”

Taylor also lauded his offensive line and his defense.

“Our offensive line played well,” he said. “They’re an experienced group and they love playing on the offensive line and those are always some of the most fun guys to be around.

“Our defense played really well. They’ve improved so much. This is a big one for our kids. It’s nice to come just down the road and win a game against a rival. This one’s special.

Karns scored the game’s final touchdown on a 1-yard run by Darius Huckleby. The Beavers lost the last meeting between the two rivals 53-21.

For HVA, the turnovers were just too much to overcome.

“I told the kids that you can’t turn the ball over four or five times against a good club,” Hawks’ coach Mike Potter said. “We have a lot of youth right now.

“We moved the ball well but we just couldn’t finish. But we’re going to improve going forward and we’re going to win ballgames.”