Thursday, November 24, 2005

Highly-ranked Tigers end Hawks’ season
• Upstart Holly High finishes 6-6

Sports Editor

The Holly High Hawks of this season have gone where no Hawks team has ever gone before.

However, they wrote an end to the chapter on Friday night at Sam Coopwood Stadium in their second round Class 3A state playoff contest with the Charleston Tigers, ranked second in the state.

The Hawks elected to receive. Marcell Johnson was the first Hawk to handle the ball and he returned to the 28. After that the Hawks appeared to be testing the Tigers’ middle, running three plays dead over center. The Tiger line proved more than formidable and the Hawks punted to the 40.

The Tigers were held by the tenacious Holly High defense and had to give the ball up with little gain.

The Hawks dropped the ball on their second play from scrimmage and the Tigers recovered at the 16. Johnny Brown broke to the left and was stopped at the 6 but it was good enough for a first and goal. Brown came right back and went in standing up. The extra point was kicked and the Tigers had the early lead, 7-0.

Johnson made another return for Holly High, spotting the ball on the 35. But the Hawks went three and out.

The Charleston quarterback, Stacey Lake, kept and stepped out of bounds just inside the red zone. His next call went to the setback, Brown, who scored for the second time. Marley Meeks booted another one through to make it 14-0, still in the first quarter.

Holly High picked up its first first down on a rub by Loren Coleman. Courtney Bowen gave them another first at the 27, but the Hawks still went out on downs.

The Hawks stopped the Tigers and Courtney Rayford covered a fumble by the Charleston quarterback.

There was confusion on the field while the officials took long minutes to sort out a penalty. When play resumed, the Hawks faced a second and 10. They gave up the ball a couple of plays later.

The Hawks drew a pair of punishing penalties which put the Tigers in a first and goal at the 1. Meeks pushed through and then came back to boot the extra point. The half expired with the Tigers in control at 21-0.

The Hawks came out of the break with an intensity which was not evident in the first half.

They posted four first downs in succession. They were threatening with a fourth and goal when Jeremy Boyd scored on a flare to the right. They missed the extra point.

The score had been set up with a 55-yard pass play from Marcus Isom to Earick Carter.

The Hawks kept the pressure on the ball, using the next series to advance to the 18. They elected to try a field goal when faced with a fourth and 12. Chris Bridgeforth kicked the 39-yarder to bring the battling Hawks closer at 21-9.

The Hawks had a bad snap which gave the Tigers another scoring opportunity. They took full advantage making it 28-9.

The Hawks had two non-productive series, and the Tigers kept the ball on the ground, working the clock until they were inside the 20. After a long count Derrick Squaire made the last score for the Tigers who won 35-9 after the extra point kick.

The Hawks’ strong run ended. They won five out of their last six games to finish 6-6.

“We played so hard the week before (in a 19-14 upset of Corinth),” said Clifford Brown, Holly High’s first year head coach. “I was concerned about whether or not we could stay on that high.

“We got off to a bad start, but we found a way to fight back. We fought hard in the third quarter.

“Some breaks didn’t go our way.”

He complimented Charleston.

“They’re a team to be reckoned with,” Brown said. “I would not be surprised if they win it all.

“We have to get bigger, stronger and faster. We have to go to work in he off-season.”

He praised his nine seniors.

“They’ve had their fourth head coach in four years, and they’ve done an admirable job,” Brown said. “Our kids showed a lot of character, and that’s something to be proud of.

“We had a heck of a year, and we’re looking to bounce back stronger next year. The nucleus of our team is juniors, and we’re looking forward to taking another step forward next season. We have some unfinished business. That will be our motto.”

Brown also thanked the Holly Springs community for its support.

The Charleston Tigers, 11-1 on the season, will go to Amory this Friday night, Nov. 25, in the North Half semi-finals. Senatobia meets Cleveland East Side in the other North game.

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