Hawks seniors lead team to comeback victory

Published 7:12 pm Monday, November 2, 2009

It was Senior Night Friday evening at the Nest and it was only fitting that the Hancock Hawks seniors saved one of their best performances for their last.

Trailing by 11 points at half-time, the seniors took it upon themselves to make sure the final chapter in their high school football careers at Brett Favre field would be written in their favor.

Hancock outscored Biloxi 15-0 in the second half in route to a 21-17 win, and proved to themselves and fans that they were not only had character, but winners as well.

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“We said at the half that there was no way we were going to lose this game,” Senior Chris Bermond said. “We were fired up and jumping around like crazy. It’s a really good feeling to be able to win this game.”

Head Coach David King said his team deserved to win the game.

“This means a lot to them and me too,” King said. “They came back and won. It showed the kind of character they have, but also the talent we have seen all year.”

After the first half however, it appeared that Biloxi would be the team celebrating after the game.

The Indians took the opening kick-off and methodically drove 13 plays and 68 yards for the opening score. The drive took up nearly half of the first quarter.

Indian quarterback Hawtin Buchanan scored on a one-yard sneak to cap the drive and Taylor Pontius added the point-after to give Biloxi a 7-0 lead.

Hancock capitalized on an Indian mistake to dent the scoreboard midway in the second quarter.

On a punt play, a bad snap forced Pontius to run backwards for the ball and he was tackled at his own 27 by Hunter Seymour and Anthony Cardinale.

Hawks quarterback Keagon Gillihan then ran the ball four consecutive times before scoring on a five-yard run with 7:14 to play in the half.

The extra-point was blocked, but the score was now 7-6.

Biloxi struck back quickly thanks to a trick play.

On the play, receiver Harrison Russell came on the field late and was uncovered on the far side.

Buchanan hit him down the field and Russell took it 50 yards before he was stopped by Christian Talley at the 25.

Four plays later, Buchanan connected with Sean Ballough for a six-yard scoring pass.

The point-after made the score 14-6.

Biloxi added a 28-yard field goal by Pontius on the last play of the half to take a 17-6 lead.

After the break, the Hawks picked up two first downs, but Gillihan was intercepted by Blair Mathis at the 36.

Three plays later, Talley returned the favor when he picked off Buchanan and returned the ball 50 yards for an apparent score.

The touchdown was called back because of penalty, but the Hawks retained possession at the Indian 41.

After a bruising 21-yard run by Detrick Goff, Gillihan hit pay-dirt when he lofted a pass over the linebacker and Seymour collected it for a 22-yard touchdown.

Hancock went for two and Gillihan hit Brian Armenta for the conversion.

With 6:50 to play in the third, the Hawks had trimmed the lead to 17-14.

Biloxi drove deep into Hawk territory on its next drive, but on a fourth-and-one, Buchanan was stuffed for no gain by Drake Domino and Carlos Talavara at the 20.

The Hawks took over and went on a 15-play drive that was aided by a fake punt in which Goff took a direct snap for nine yards and a first down.

The drive did not result in points, however, as Donald Reyer misses a 28-yard field goal with 9:45 to play.

Biloxi looked to put the game away on their next drive, but Bermond had other ideas as he stripped Travoris Robinson and recovered the fumble at the Hawks 30 with 7:28 to play.

The Hawks proceeded to drive 70-yards for the winning score.

Gillihan started things off with a 12-yard crossing route to Lance Jaynes. Goff then rumbled 21 yards to the indian 42.

Two plays later, Gillihan found a wide-open Armenta on a post-corner route for a 37-yard touchdown.

“When I broke on the route, the safety bit on the inside,” Armenta said. “I was wide open and just had to make the catch.”

Reyer’s point-after made the score 21-17 with 5:38 to play.

Biloxi moved the ball into Hawks territory after the kickoff, but on a fourth-and-seven at the 35, Buchanan’s pass was intercepted by Talley at the ten.

Talley received a face-mask penalty for a stiff-arm on the return, but the Hawks had the ball with just 2:46 to play.

“I read his eyes all the way,” Talley said. “It was under-thrown and I made the catch.”

After the penalty, the Hawks took over at their own five and turned the game over to Gillihan.

Gillihan carried the ball eight consecutive times, picking up three first downs and forcing the Indians to use all of their timeouts.

The final first down came on am 11-yard run behind center Jason Chaisson.

The Hawks clock ran out two plays later.

“We wanted Keagon to keep the ball in his hands,” King said. “He was the man tonight.”

In the game, Gillihan became the first Hawks quarterback to rush for 1,000 yards and thrown for 1,000 yards in the same season.

He finished the game with 157 yards rushing on 25 carries and completed 10 passes for 138 yards.

Sophomore sensation Detrick Goff added 72 yards rushing in the game.

Hancock will finish their season next week when they travel to Harrison Central.