Thursday, September 15, 2005

Late safety lifts Ripley by Hawks

Sports Editor

After a week off, the Holly High Hawks went to the field of a former division foe, the Ripley Tigers, to play their first road game of the new season.

In a well kept stadium on a perfect night for football, the Hawks won the toss but deferred possession until the second half.

The Tigers’ Jonathan Nabors was left all alone for a buttonhook in the secondary and he gained 25 yards. Luckily, that play was nullified by a holding penalty. They were moved back another 15 on a face mask call. The Tigers would not be denied. Ripley quarterback Jase Williamson used a fake-delay to net six for the home team. The extra point was booted through and the Tigers were 7-0.

The Hawks set up to move the ball in a power “I.” They achieved a first on a run by Pierre Thomas, but were thrown for a two-yard loss by a Ripley linebacker. Holly High faced third and nine when a broken play brought fourth down. Marvin Lucas punted the ball away.

The Ripley offense stalled somewhat, but the Hawks’ defense was showing only passive aggressiveness. Then Ripley’s John Stephens broke up the middle for a big gain. The same play was stopped for a loss by Chris Bridgeforth. Then the Hawks were blessed by a big one. The center bobbled the snap, spending their last down on the 14.

The Hawks were quick to capitalize. Although they had two stopped plays, Marcus Isom went all the way to the 5-yard line before he was halted. Jeremy Boyd bulled it in a play later. Isom kicked the extra point and the score was tied.

There was 1:27 left on the clock when the Hawks’ defense allowed Stephens to break for 19 yards on a sweep right. He did the same to the left just before the quarter ended.

The Hawks’ defense started to show some aggression. It held the Tiger offense and got the ball back but a personal foul voided a big gain by the Hawks. Two more penalties and they had racked up 25 bad yards. After a large gain and first down by Pierre Thomas, the horn sounded, ending the first half of play with the score 7-7.

The Hawks took the kickoff to start the second half. It was returned 43 yards by Elijah Thigpen. Traven Howell was running the offense for the Hawks and they incurred a 15-yarder on another personal foul. They were moved back again when Jake Barkley rushed through and dropped Howell for a huge loss the Hawks had to punt away.

The Hawks defense had really tigthened in the third, but even so, the Tigers kept the ball for 10 and a half minutes in that quarter before scoring on a pass play. After the extra point, the Tigers were up 14-7 to begin the fourth.

Howell was overpowered by a trio of Tigers and lost five yards; however, the next play went to Earick Carter who carried to the 30. Jeremy Boyd pounded it to the 5 off right tackle, then crammed it in from the five, running left of center. Isom tied it with an extra point kick, and the Hawks were holding their own on the road.

On the ensuing kickoff, and after the Tigers had spent one down, Rasheed DeBerry hit Michael Tate and the ball popped out. It was covered by the Hawks.

After theofficials had declared a fourth down, coach Clifford Brown challenged and called for a measurement. The Hawks were awarded the first down. But they couldn’t advance.

After being penalized twice, the centersnapped the ball over the punter’s head and it sailed into the endzone where it was covered and ruled a safety, giving the Tigers 16-14 edge.

The Hawks received another lucky break when a fumble recovery gave them another chance. Time ran out as the Hawks sent three wide receivers deep into Tiger territory.

The Hawks and Tigers both were 0-1 going into the game but the Tigers came out 1-1.

Next up for the Hawks will be an away game against the Shannon Red Raiders. Shannon is 2-0 after a 47-6 victory last week over Okolona.

Coach Brown named Marcus Isom his most valuable player of the week. He also said the Hawks have not reached the level of mental preparedness that he would like.

“We are definitely going to be working on that this week,” Brown said.

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