Thursday, November, 17, 2005

First playoff win in school history
• Holly High Hawks eliminate Corinth, host Charleston this Friday night

Sports Editor

No matter what happens from here on out, these Holly High Hawks have a marked distinction. They have won the first football playoff game in the history of the Hawks’ program Friday night.

And they did it on the road and at the home of a perennial football power, the Corinth Warriors.

The Hawks elected to receive to start this one and Marcel Johnson gave them an early boost with a carry to the 38 yard line. A couple of handoff attempts didn’t work and the Hawks punted on a fourth and four.

The Hawks set an “in your chest” defense which they maintained throughout the game. They held the Warriors to a three and out.

After the punt, Marcus Isom threw an interception into the hands of Bernard Luster at the 48 and he put the Warriors on the board. The extra point was kicked by Evan Bauer.

The Hawks’ next possession also went awry. A bad snap sent the ball into the open field and it was recovered by Corinth; however, Isom practically took the ball from a Warrior and returned it to the 28. But he was caught deep in his own backfield later and they had to send the ball over on downs.

Corinth went to work and to the air, trying their first pass play of the game. Ben Woodhouse hit Jazz Curlee for a big gain and then the fullback, Anson Keith, went straight over center at full steam. The extra point was again kicked and Corinth had the double digit lead at 14-0, with 2:19 remaining in the first.

At the beginning of the second quarter, Isom got in trouble in the backfield, eluded would-be tacklers until he found an open LeCorey Jones. The big tight end hauled the ball in and was brought down at the 1. A play later they were on the board, thanks to Loren Coleman’s carry. The point-after try failed, the score was 14-6.

A few short minutes later, Marcell Johnson took the Warriors’ punt south to north, 85 yards, for another Hawks’ score. Again the extra point try failed. Corinth led 14-12.

The Hawks’ defense held the Warriors to a third and two. After a timeout the Warriors picked up a first down at the Hawks’ 30. The defense forced a fumble on the next play and the Hawks covered it.

Jones took a flare pass this time on a third and 14. They had the ball on the Corinth 21. Loren Coleman broke through to the 18. Isom called a keeper and scored, but it was called back, for holding. Isom called the same play and was grounded at the 2. Holly High called a timeout and Johnson punched the ticket from the 2. Chris Bridgeforth kicked the extra point.

The scoring drive, which had started with the fumble recovery by Courtney Rayford would give the Hawks the lead and the last score of the game, going into the final quarter with a 19-14 lead.

It was a see-saw struggle during the fourth. Coleman and Johnson grounded out hard interior yardage for the Hawks. They got a couple of breaks from the football gods that allowed them to hold the ball until the final 1:24.

The Warriors were out of timeouts and went to the desperation pass. The defense broke them up and Alex Anderson picked off the last long heave to kill the Warriors’ last threat. Holly High won 19-14.

The 3A Hawks (6-5 on the season) celebrated their first ever playoff win and will get to make history again on Friday, Nov. 18, when they host their first playoff game ever. Charleston will bring a 10-1 record to town. The Tigers knocked Holly High out of playoff competition last season in the first round.

Coach Clifford Brown was asked how it felt to be the first head coach at Holly High to win a playoff game.

“It really feels great,” he said. “It’s a major step for our program. I think that right now we are playing with a lot of confidence.

“We are not playing our best football yet, but we are getting there. We face another team with a storied history. We just have to continue to try to shock the world.”

He urged Holly High fans to come out to Sam Coopwood Park Friday night and be vocal in their support of the Hawks.

Brown named Marcell Johnson the most valuable player of the game for his two-touchdown performance.

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