Marquis Cherry blasted through the blocking at the line of scrimmage for a 63-yard scoring run on the second play from scrimmage to give Hancock High (7-2, 4-1) a 6-0 lead, and the Hawks never looked back on their way to a 35-0 shutout win over Harrison Central (3-6, 2-3) in Lyman on Friday.
The win put the Hawks in the playoffs, and the shutout was the first for the Hawks in their nine seasons at the 6A level.
Hancock would score again in the second quarter, this time on a 36-yard scoring carry as Rondell Wommack jetted through the line of scrimmage. After three consecutive encroachment penalties against Harrison Central on the PAT attempt, the Hawks decided to run it in and they converted on a Cherry carry and a 14-0 lead.
The Hawks capitalized off of a fumble recovery and a personal foul call that gave them excellent field position at Harrison Central’s 23 yard line. Caleb Garcia connected with Anthony Jones in the endzone, and the Hawks led 21-0 early in the second quarter.
“Our offensive line did a wonderful job,” said Hawks’ coach Neil Lollar. “We tell them each week it’s really up to them what we are going to be able to do. Those guys (backs) can shine if they are able to do their jobs, and they were able to do it early.
“We knew that once we kind of got the run established that they were going to have to bring another man in the box. Once they did, we were able to get our receivers — who are very talented — we were able to get them in some space, and we were able to get them the ball. That was the big thing.”
With the running game solidly established, the Hawks went to the air for two more scores in the third period, both to Brooks Rayburn.
Hancock’s defense forced a punt on the Red Rebels’ first possession on the second half, and the Hawks took over at their own 40 yard line. The Hawks went to four different backs on 8 consecutive running plays before Garcia connected with Rayburn in the endzone from 14 yards out with 4:41 remaining on the third-quarter clock.
The Hawks’ defense denied the Red Rebels a first down on their ensuing possession. Fielding the Red Rebels’ punt at their own 27, the Hawks went to Cherry on the handoff on the first snap, and off of play action, Garcia connected with Rayburn for a 68-yard catch and run on the second snap to close out the game’s scoring.
The Red Rebels never really got going as the Hawks’ defense kept them off-balance all night. The Red Rebels best field position of the night was at the Hawks’ one, but a bad snap resulted in a 30-yard loss, and the Red Rebels would end up with a fourth-and-3 for a first down, but the possession ended with a dropped ball in the endzone.
“We couldn’t get any rhythm tonight,” said Red Rebels coach Casey Cain. “We had some plays there, but we just couldn’t get it going. Defensively we couldn’t stop them either. We had a bad night offensively and defensively. We’ve just got to find a way to get better and try to do something next week and get a win.”
Cherry led the Hawks with 127 yards and a touchdown and 2-point conversion on 13 carries. Garcia completed 5 of 8 passes for 110 yards and three touchdowns and an interception.