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Hawks edge Cats in OT - Chatham Star Tribune: Sports

Hawks edge Cats in OT

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Posted: Wednesday, November 8, 2017 9:47 am | Updated: 9:53 am, Wed Nov 8, 2017.

Daelyn Miller and the Gretna Hawks’ football team refused to lose on senior night.

The Hawks defeated the Dan River Wildcats, 22-14, Friday night in an overtime thriller for the last game of the regular season.

“These kinds of games are why we do it,” head coach Cole Simpson said. “It was a day where nothing went right. It’s a testament to these kids’ work ethic.”

Miller ran to the corner of the end zone for the go-ahead four-yard score in overtime on third down and threw for a two-point conversion to Damian Canada to extend the lead.

“Daelyn is a load,” Simpson said. “I felt like, in two downs, he could certainly get it in. It didn’t take two.”

The win secured the number five seed in the AA Region C playoff bracket, sending the Hawks on a road trip to Floyd County Friday for their playoff opener at 7 p.m.

“Tonight, I’m going to enjoy being champion of Pittsylvania County,” Simpson said.

The team was 3-0 against county opponents Dan River, Tunstall and Chatham.

Prior to the game, seniors Travis Hogan, Lucas Davis, Cameron Towler, Quinton Tucker, Tasmine Stone-Johnson and Elijah Council-Roach were recognized along with other fall sport senior athletes from the school.

The Hawks kicked off to the Wildcats to open the game with a big tackle for a loss by Jorden Berger coming on the first series.

Tabron Mabins was intercepted on a deep ball on the Hawks’ first drive, but the Gretna defense forced an incompletion on fourth down to stifle a drive into their territory.

On the next play, Jaylan Myers took the ball 70 yards for the touchdown and a 6-0 lead with 5:23 left in the first quarter.

The Wildcats again drove into Gretna territory, but their ball carriers were hit for a loss on third and fourth down plays in Gretna’s red zone.

Two plays later, the Wildcats recovered a Mabins fumble.

After a 15-yard facemask penalty, the Wildcats converted a short scoring run for a 7-6 lead early in the second quarter.

Dan River’s next drive was halted with a fumble recovery by Corlyn Witcher.

The Hawks had their punt partially blocked on their next possession, but the defense forced a turnover on downs on their own 20 to end the first half.

Dajon Hicks retook the lead for the Hawks, taking the opening second half kickoff for a 90-yard touchdown.

Mabins hit Travis Hogan for the two-point conversion and a 14-7 lead.

Later in the third quarter, the Wildcats’ punter was not able to handle a high snap, but the Gretna offense stalled when a fourth-down pass to Hicks fell incomplete.

The Wildcats knotted the game with 10 seconds left in the third when Gretna’s punt from their own end zone was returned for a score.

Witcher helped stall two more Wildcats drives with sacks that eventually led to punts by Dan River.

A deep ball to Hicks led to a 25-yard field goal attempt that sailed wide left with no time on the clock.

After Miller’s score in overtime, the Gretna defense stood tall with forced incompletions on third and fourth down to end the game.

“It ain’t how we wanted to do it,” Simpson said. “But we will take it.”

Jaylan Myers led the team with 13 carries for 141 yards. Mabins was five of 16 passing for 86 yards.

Dominick Meeks caught two passes for 51 yards. Hicks had two receptions for 31 yards.

DeAndre Miller led the defense with 20 tackles, including 15 solo tackles. Daelyn Miller added 14 tackles.

Lucas Davis had 12 tackles and Jorden Berger added seven tackles.

Kenaz Moon had a sack and Meeks brought in an interception.

“Defensively we played well,” Simpson said. “They only gave up seven points. It was a phenomenal effort, but that’s been the story all season.”

The win sends the Hawks into postseason play with an 8-2 record, a marked improvement over last season’s 3-7 finish.

“The jump we made from last year is unbelievable,” Simpson said.

He was also glad to end the regular season on a high note.

“It was a good win for us, one we absolutely needed,” he said. “It’s mighty good to get that county title back to Gretna.”

Corlyn Witcher, who was in the Wildcats’ backfield seemingly all night, agreed.

“It’s sensational,” he said. “There’s no better way to finish the regular season.”

Junior varsity

The junior varsity Hawks fell to Dan River, 34-12, to end their season 6-3.

Head coach Cornelius Witcher said his team fielded only 14 healthy players.

Cornelius Jefferson filled in at quarterback and Cameron Mabins made some plays at running back.

NyKyi King led the defensive effort.

“We played so hard the first two and a half quarters, but we just ran out of gas,” Witcher said. “They gave their all and we are very proud of the way they played the entire season.”

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