Thursday, September 17, 2009
Hawks fall short at Tunica
By BARRY BURLESON
The Holly Springs defense stood tall Friday night but the offense continued to have its struggles in the Lions’ den at Tunica.
The result was a 12-6 loss to Rosa Fort. Class 3A Holly High dropped to 0-4 on the season, while the 4A Lions improved to 3-1.
The game was marred by penalties - 27 total, 17 on the Lions and 10 on the Hawks.
“Defensively, we really put a lot of pressure on their quarterback,” coach Clifford Brown said, “and I thought we stuffed the run pretty well, too. Offensively, we keep fumbling the football in crucial situations and making too many mistakes. We’re playing a lot better but we’ve got to figure out a way to get points on the board early.”
The Hawks fell behind 12-0 at the half but clawed back in the second half, just missing some opportunities to steal the victory.
Holly High fumbled the ball on its first possession of the night and went three and out on its next series. Meanwhile, the defense was shining, with a tackle for loss by Roderick Glover and quarterback pressure from Tyrone Miller forcing an errant throw.
The Hawks picked up their initial first down of the contest late in the first quarter on Demetri Oliver’s quarterback sneak on fourth and inches.
Tunica came close to putting points on the board early in the second period, but a couple of flags on the Lions and a couple of sacks by Holly High pushed them backwards. Miller was in both sacks. He was joined by Curterius Jefferies on one and Anthony Alexander on another. The big losses left the home team with a fourth and 46.
But two plays later Holly High fumbled the ball back to the Lions and they proceeded to cash in the turnover. They went 34 yards in just three plays, scoring the touchdown on a 5-yard run. A try-for-two failed. The Hawks trailed 6-0 with 5:13 left in the second quarter
Holly Springs’ next possession ended on an interception. But the Hawks’ defense turned to its pressure once again and kept the Lions from adding additional points before intermission.
The Hawks finally put together some big plays and scored on their first possession of the second half. Oliver connected with Dean Bridgeforth for 22 yards and first down. Then Oliver kept the ball for 18 more yards and a first down. The biggest of the plays came with Holly High facing a fourth and three from the Tunica 30. Oliver threw to William Jones, who made a leaping catch and darted the distance for the touchdown.
“That was a great catch and a great run after the catch,“ Coach Brown said.
The extra-point kick missed the mark. With 6:12 left in the third quarter, the Hawks were down 12-6.
To start the fourth quarter, the Hawks reached the Tunica 24 on their next drive, but traveled backwards from there, with the main culprit being a holding flag. They couldn’t convert on a fourth and 23 from the Lions’ 37-yard line.
“I don’t like to point at the officials,” Brown said, “but when you keep asking them about a call and they can’t give me a (player’s) number. They just say, ‘Coach, it was in the line.’ But we have to learn to play through all of that.”
Holly High almost got a break midway through the fourth. Tunica fumbled. The ball rolled backwards and laid on the ground a few seconds before players on either team saw it. The Lions recovered.
“We punched it out and the ball was rolling the other way. We’re not catching a break,” Brown said. “If we catch one, we will get this thing turned around.”
The Hawks had two more possessions in the final quarter but couldn’t come close to producing points. They were forced to punt the ball away from inside their own 10. They got the ball back with 17 seconds left, but with no timeouts, the game ended on a quarterback sack.
Coach Brown named defensive star Miller as the team’s most valuable player for the game. He spent most of the night in the Lions’ backfield. Brown also complimented the defensive play of Eldred Milan.
The Hawks travel to Coahoma County this Friday for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff.
“We still have a lot to play for,” said Brown. “The district games are not here yet. We have to minimize our mistakes. We need to win one and get some confidence. We have to keep working hard.”
He said he will be looking at moving some players to different positions.
“We will keep shuffling the deck until we get the right deck,” Brown said.
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