Hattiesburg grounds Hawks, 33-0
By Tim Doherty
Oct 25, 2013, 23:41
Since the start of Region 4-6A play began, the football fortunes of Hattiesburg and Hancock high schools had headed in opposite directions.
That trend continued Friday night at D.I. Patrick Stadium.
Freshman running back Xavier Yancey rushed for 127 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries and the Hattiesburg defense smothered the visiting Hawks as the Tigers grabbed a 33-0 homecoming victory.
Senior running back Quavier Hammond bulled his way for 84 yards and two scores, and freshman quarterback Julian Conner threw for 119 yards and two scores as HHS (4-5 overall, 4-1 region) won for the fourth time in its past five games.
“What we’ve preached to them is just getting better every week, improving every day in practice,” HHS coach Tony Vance said. “We’ve got a lot of injuries right now, so a lot of young guys have had to step up and play, and they’ve done an admirable job, so we’re proud of them.”
Hancock coach Rocky Gaudin knows all about the pain.
The Hawks (3-6, 0-5) started the season 3-1 but a bevy of injuries have caught up with them. Hancock has seen seven starters on offense sidelined by injury, including its top quarterback and running back, and six starters on defense.
“We haven’t made excuses all season,” Gaudin said. “Hattiesburg’s got kids banged up, too, and they do a good job here. They always do.”
Hattiesburg’s defense set the tone for the night, stuffing Hancock on its first possession, with the Tigers taking over the ball on the Hawks’ 47-yard line after a six-yard punt.
The Tigers cashed in, with Yancey carrying four times for 31 yards and Conner capping the six-play drive with a 12-yard scoring pass to senior Michael Woodard for a 7-0 lead. A 30-yard punt set up a 55-yard drive, highlighted by a 47-yard pass from Conner to senior Willie Hartfield. Hammond scored on a 1-yard run on fourth-and-goal as the Tigers led 14-0 with 3 minutes, 44 seconds, left in the first quarter.
Hancock struggled on offense all night. In the first half, the Hawks finished with zero yards rushing, zero first downs and zero points.
For the game, Hancock managed 62 yards and four first downs.
“I told the kids that I’ve been coaching 36 years and I don’t ever remember going an entire half without a first down,” Gaudin said. “It’s just a struggle for us right now.
“We played a little bit of decent defense at times, but then we have problems.”
Hammond and Conner wrecked the Hawks right before the half. With the Tigers starting at their own 44 with 48 seconds to play in the second quarter, Hammond ripped off a 28-yard run on the first play of the drive. Conner capped it with consecutive completions to junior Joronnie Hinton for 26 yards, the last one covering the final eight yards for a 20-0 HHS lead with four seconds left in the first half.
Hammond added a 10-yard touchdown and Yancey scored on a one-yard run, both in the third quarter.