Hancock upsets HCHS

Published 5:56 am Sunday, November 8, 2009

By Dwayne Bremer

Special to the Item

Keagon Gillihan’s seven-yard touchdown toss to Adrian Whavers with 32 seconds remaining Friday evening in Lyman ended a furious 68-yard drive in the final minutes as the Hawks (5-6) defeated the Harrison Central Red Rebels 27-25, and crushed the Red Rebels hopes of a Region 4-6A title.

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The play not only won the game, but it helped wash away years of frustration and losing and sent the Hawks’ 18 seniors out as winners.

“It was almost a story-book ending,” Hawks Head Coach David King said. “Our seniors, who have been through so much, took it down the field and put it in the end-zone. This is huge, not only for them, but for our program going forward.”

Harrison Central (9-2, 6-2) opening the scoring at 7:38 to play in the first when Aerion Williams took a keeper 11 yards for a score.

Late in the quarter, an interception by Anthony Cardinale gave the Hawks a golden chance when he returned it to the Red Rebel five.

The Hawks turned the ball over on downs, but a strong defensive stand forced a punt and the Hawks took over at the 36.

Hancock broke through two plays later, when Gillihan hit Brian Armenta for a 31-yard touchdown on a seam route. Tyler Laurent added the point-after to give the Hawks a 7-6 lead.

The Hawks stretched their lead just before the half, when Gillihan connected with Lance Jaynes on a 49-yard touchdown pass on a post-corner play.

Laurent’s point-after gave the Hawks a 14-6 lead with just 51 seconds to play in the half.

The Hawks stopped the Red Rebels on their final drive to preserve the lead.

Hancock got the ball to start the second half and Chris Bermond gave the Hawks great field position with a 67-yard kickoff return.

Four plays later, Gillihan connected with Armenta again, this time for a 23-yard scoring strike.

Laurent’s point-after gave the Hawks a 21-6 lead with 9:38 to play in the third.

Harrison Central responded with a 14-play drive that spanned 75 yards.

Williams finished the drive with a one-yard touchdown run with 4:27 to play in the third.

The Red Rebels went for two, but Michael Henry swatted away a Williams’ pass and the score remained 21-12.

Harrison Central then picked off a Gillihan pass and found themselves in the end-zone three minutes later when Williams capped a five-play drive with a 10-yard run.

The point-after failed, but the Rebels only trailed 21-18 with one minute to play in the third.

Another Gillihan interception gave Harrison Central great field position at the Hawks 36 and they drove nine plays to take the lead.

This time, it was Furious Bradley who scored on a six-yard run with 6:47 to play in the game. Michael Dye added the point-after and the Rebels had taken the momentum and the lead 25-21.

After a three-and-out by the Hawks, Harrison Central took over with 5:12 to play at their 30.

After runs by Williams and Bradley, Harrison Central was faced with a crucial third-and-one at the 39.

Bradley got the call, but Bermond and Bruce Conant stuffed him for a three-yard loss and forced a punt.

Hancock took over at the 32 with 2:50 to play in the game and the season.

Gillihan started things out with a short pass to Whavers, who was tackled by the face mask resulting in a penalty and a first down. Gillihan then ran for seven yards and then seven more near midfield.

He then connected with Armenta for 17 yards to the 37 and another first down.

Two plays later, Gillihan hit Hunter Seymour for seven yards and then he found Seymour again across the middle for 13 more to the Red Rebel seven.

Hancock spiked the ball and on the next play, Gillihan hit Whavers on the wheel route for the seven-yard score with only 32 seconds to play.

Gillihan ended the game with 236 yards passing on 13 completions and four touchdowns.

The point-after failed, but the Hawks had retaken the lead 27-25.

Harrison Central took over at the 39 after the kickoff, but after completing two short passes to Bradley, Williams misfired on a fourth-down throw and the Hawks took over at the 42 with just two seconds to play.

Gillihan took the snap to end the game and the Hawks stormed the field.

“This game proves what I have said all year,” King said. “We had a good team this year. These kids never quit and fought hard all season. I am proud of them and they should be proud of themselves.”

Cardinale was one of several Hawks in tears after the game.

“This is the greatest feeling in the world,” he said. “We owe it all to Coach King and everyone who made us believe that we can win. Because of them, we are the men we are today.”