High School Sports

Hancock gets defensive against Brandon in historic playoff win

Hancock High wide receiver Brooks Rayburn
Hancock High wide receiver Brooks Rayburn jcfitzhugh@sunherald.com

Hancock High put together an 80-yard 9-play scoring drive in the last minutes of its 30-27 win over Brandon in the first round of the 6A playoffs at Brett Favre Stadium on Friday.

The drive was highlighted by an 11-yard carry by Marquis Cherry to convert a fourth-and-2 for a first down and a 46-yard pass completion from Caleb Garcia to Brooks Rayburn to give the Hawks a first-and-goal at the Brandon 10 yard line. On third down Garcia connected with Rayburn for a 6-yard toss in the end zone to secure the win for the Hawks.

“That was crazy, but our guys persevered through some adversity there at the end,” said Hancock coach Neil Lollar. “We had some things go not necessarily our way, but we rebounded and responded very well. I am so proud of them, because I kept telling them, ‘If we get an opportunity, can we finish it?’ And they did. They proved tonight that they can finish one on both side of the ball.’

The Hawks led most of the game, leading 24-6 midway through the third quarter.

Brandon responded with solid running by Javarous Spann, who scored on the Bulldogs next three possessions as Brandon took the lead at 27-24 with 4:40 left in the game.

Brandon started with good field position at their own 35 yard line with just over 50 seconds remaining, but failed to convert on fourth-and-29 at their own 16 yardline.

“We work on situational football everyday,” said Lollar. “They were able to handle it when it came down to crunch time. They did an excellent job of executing just as we do in practice.”

Garcia connected with Rayburn for a 41-yard score on the Hawks’ second possession to take a 7-0 lead. Michael Durr picked off a ball bobbling in the hands of a Bulldogs receiver and returned it 26 yards to extend the Hawks lead to 14-0 late in the first quarter.

Brandon scored on their third possession of the game on a 12-yard pass play early in the second quarter. Elliott Nolan closed out the first half scoring with a 40-yard field goal to give the Hawks a 17-6 lead, capitalizing on Durr’s second interception of the game.

Brodie Fitts intercepted Brandon on their first possession of the second half, giving the Hawks excellent field position at the Brandon 44 yard line. On second down, Garcia connected with Rayburn for 40 yards to the visitors’ 4 yard line. Cherry carried twice, scoring from one yard out, and a 24-6 lead.

Cherry led Hawks with 146 yards on 30 carries and a touchdown. Rondell Womack rushed for 105 yards on 14 carries.

Garcia completed 8 of nine passes for 160 yards and two touchdowns. Rayburn led the Hawks with four receptions for 133 yards and two touchdowns.