By Eric Shannon
WARNER – It took two quarters of play for the Hulbert Riders’ offense to come alive and when it did, it nearly rode off with a win over the Warner Eagles Friday night at Alumni Field.
But it was the bend but don't break Eagles’ defense that proved resilient on the night, as the Eagles survived to take a 20-19 win over the visiting Riders.
“After we let one get away from us last week it feels good to come home and get this first win,” said Eagles’ coach Mike Burdge. “This will give these kids some confidence and get us working harder and hungry for another win.”
Even though the Eagles won the war, it was the battle in the second half that they nearly lost. As the Raiders racked up 253 yards rushing in the second half, 277 for the game, the visitors nearly pulled the upset despite shooting themselves in the foot on the final drive of the night.
With Hulbert starting on its own seven-yard line, down 20-13 with 6:26 left in the game, Levi Carson popped a 60-yard run on a second and seven to its their comeback. Inching down to the nine-yard line, two consecutive penalties backed the Riders up to the Eagles’ 25. A desperation pass fell incomplete but a roughing the passer penalty gave Hulbert new life.
Two plays later, Riders’ quarterback Jonathan Hamby called his own number with a bootleg to the left sideline, found an opening and dove in for the score and close within 20-19 with 30 seconds remaining. The extra point would tie the game up but an illegal procedure penalty backed the extra-point attempt back five yards, and the attempt fell inches short of the tie.
It didn't take long for the Warner’s offense to get going early when on its third series of the night, Bobby Ward rolled to his right, stepped and found Eric Wiggins for a 54-yard pass and catch to put the Eagles up 6-0 with 5:21 to go in the first quarter.
Two possessions later, it was Clint Kite that found the end zone, this time capping off a nine-play drive with 5:16 left in the second quarter and putting the Eagles in command 14-0.
And just when the Eagles looked in control, that's when Carson work up the Riders offense to open the second half of play.
Carson touched the ball five times for 63 yards to open the third quarter. His last touch was a 40-yard sprint up the heart of the Eagles’ defense and pull the Riders within 14-7 with 9:29 in the third stanza.
After an interception by the Riders' Terry Cook at the Eagles’ 20, it took just three plays until Justin Owens found the end zone and pull the score to 14-13 with 1:35 to go in the third quarter.
Jacob Crabtree came on the scene for the Eagles, giving the stalled offense a shot in the arm with his 24-yard run in the fourth quarter and a 20-13 lead with 11:53 left in the game.
”Clint (Kite) actually called that play to Jacob,” said Burdge. “He saw the defense shift over in a particular set and thought the fullback would be open and Jacob broke free.”
Crabtree carried the ball five times in the second half for 65 yards, nearly half of the Eagles total rushing output on the night.
Kite finished with 117 total yards, 80 of that receiving. The Riders’ Carson finished the night with 169 yards rushing on 16 touches, all in the second half.
WARNER 20, HULBERT 19
HULBERT 0 0 13 6 -19
WARNER 6 8 0 6 -20
WHS - Eric Wiggins 54 pass from Bobby Ward (Run fail) 5:21
WHS - Clint Kite 3 run (Bobby Ward pass from Kite) 5:16
HHS - Levi Carson 40 run (Greg Landverde kick) 9:29
HHS - Justin Owens 11 run (Kick fail) 1:35
WHS - Jacob Crabtree 24 run (Pass fail) 11:53
HHS - Jonathan Hamby 10 run (kick fail) :30
First Downs 13 13
Rushes -Yards 53-277 25-144
Passing A-C-I 12-4-2 14-9-1
Passing Yards 63 175
Punts - Avg. 4-35 5-32
Penalties Yards 9-75 6-45
Fum - Lost 3-1 3-2
Individual - RUSHING -WHS Clint Kite 13-37, Jacob Crabtree 5-65, Bobby Ward 2-12; HHS - Levi Carson 16-169, Anthony Howard 16-50, Johnathan Hamby 10-14, Justin Owens 7-26