Hawks soar to win at Mantachie
Holly Springs made the 72-mile trip east on I-22 to Mantachie Friday night, and it was well worth the ride.
The Hawks left Itawamba County with a 35-14 win, their first of the season after a loss to rival Byhalia in week one.
“We improved from the previous week but we have a lot of work to do,” said head coach Donald Deans. “We came out sort of slow but picked up the pace.
“The running game was excellent and opened up the passing game for us, too.
“Defensively, our tackling was much better and we were flying to the football. We created some turnovers and took advantage of some of those.”
It looked as if the Hawks would take the lead in the first quarter but a 50-yard touchdown run was nullified by a block-in-the-back flag.
The first period ended scoreless.
Early in the second, the Hawks faked a punt and the 31-yard gain earned a first down at the Mustang 32. However, the offense stalled.
Mantachie’s Seth Johnson had a 26-yard carry into Holly High territory and then scored on a 35-yard run. With a two-point conversion, the Mustangs went ahead 8-0.
Mantachie then successfully executed an onside kick and claimed possession again, this time at midfield.
The Hawks rose to the occasion defensively, and the offense took over at its own 40.
Midway through the second quarter, Joshua Kimble found running room and traveled 60 yards for six points. The conversion try was not successful. The Hawks trailed 8-6.
The Mustangs fumbled on their next possession and the Hawks recovered at the Mantachie 26. But the visitors could not capitalize.
Mantachie turned the ball over again late in the first half. This time Holly High did cash the turnover into points. Dylan King threw to Andrew Martin for the 29-yard touchdown, and the two-point conversion pass from King to Ramon Rutherford put the Hawks up 14-8 at the half.
The Mustangs started the third by driving deep into Holly High territory. The Hawks’ defense strengthened and stopped the home team on a fourth-down try.
Near the eight-minute mark of the third, the Mustangs coughed up the football once again. After Holly High’s recovery, Kimble got loose again, this time going 51 yards for a touchdown. The conversion try failed. It was 20-8.
The Hawks then padded their lead after another Mantachie turnover. King threw to Marquise Turnage for the 8-yard touchdown. The extra-point kick by Ahmed Alhalemi made it 27-8 with 2:28 left in the third.
That score held until late in the final quarter.
Johnson carried for a second Mantachie touchdown with 2:31 to go in the fourth. The extra-point try was no good.
Then in the final minute, Rutherford of Holly High scored on a 52-yard run to seal the deal. Roy Vaughn threw to Latorrence Davis for the two to put the final margin of victory at 21.
Kimble, named the game’s most valuable player by Coach Deans, finished with 28 carries for 183 yards and two touchdowns.
This Friday night the Hawks (1-1) will host Ashland. The Blue Devils, in their first season after the Benton County team split into Ashland and Hickory Flat, are 0-2 on the season. They have lost to Walnut and East Union.
“With the win at Mantachie, we have some momentum going early in the season,” Deans said. “We just have to keep working hard and understand that success comes from hard work. If we keep working, we will be OK.”