Hayfield left a golden opportunity on the field last Friday against South County in a bid to move to 4-0. The Hawks and Stallions have only met 11 times, but seven of the contests have now been decided by seven or fewer points. Unfortunately, Hayfield has been on the losing end of that equation more often than not. After last year’s 96 point barn burner, the game started much the same with 13 points being scored in the first 2:24. After an excellent kickoff return by South County to set the Stallions up on the Hawks 42 yard line, it took six plays to score on a 23 yard pass. Junior Rayjuon Pringle promptly returned the favor on a 94 yard kickoff return for a touchdown to give the Hawks a 7-6 lead.
After an untimely defensive off-sides penalty on 4th down that extended South County’s drive, the Hayfield defense held within the Hawks 15 yard line. Halfway through the 1st quarter the Hawks offense lead by Brian Cobbs (SR) at quarterback finally took the field, but failed to gain a 1st down. South County’s next drive ended at the Hayfield 30 yard line after a failed fake punt. Hayfield’s next drive ended on a dropped pass that would have been a 15 yard gain. South County’s high risk high reward offense ripped Hayfield’s secondary for a 55 yard pass to take a 12-7 lead with 0:51 remaining in the 1st quarter.
Hayfield’s next three drives would end in South County territory, including three straight plays within South County’s five yard line. Hayfield’s inability to capitalize on sustained drives would be an unfortunate theme throughout the night. With 2:23 remaining, Hayfield was primed to get the ball back before the half with excellent field position since South County was running plays deep in their own end zone after the previous failed Hawks drive. 2nd and 10 at their own three yard line, South County took advantage of man coverage on the outside for a 97 yard dagger to extend the lead 18-7 before the half.
Although down by 11 points at half, Hayfield showed grit and determination to overcome earlier mistakes and claw their way back into the game to put themselves in a position to win. A switch at halftime moved Cobbs (SR) back to wide receiver and brought in Monty Byers (JR) at quarterback. Hayfield took the opening possession of the second half 80 yards on seven plays with a one yard run by Kylan Booker (SR), to close the gap 14-18. Senior Iliass Majid would recover a South County fumble on their next possession to give the Hawks another drive within Stallion territory. A scrambling Byers (JR) misread the improvised route that a wide open Tim Wiggins (JR) was running and was intercepted. After a defensive stop, Byers (JR) got another opportunity and found Cobbs (SR) on a 10 yard slant to take a 21-18 lead with 3:13 remaining in the 3rd quarter.
South County would respond with a six yard touchdown to retake the lead 24-21 with 10:50 in the 4th quarter. On the next Hawks drive, Byers (JR) would be tackled at the ankles from behind and left the game with an apparent injury. With Cobbs (SR) at wide receiver, this precipitated Sophomore Trevor Gleason to come cold off of the bench. Gleason (SO) completed his first three passes but the drive stalled. This would allow the Stallions to mount an exhausting 76 yard 14 play drive to score again, 31-21 with 4:03 remaining. Two of Hayfield’s top defensive players were inactive for the game which greatly impacted the team’s strength and depth.
Gleason (SO) would march Hayfield down the field capped off by an incredible 16 yard touchdown run by Jevon Pailin (SR) to give the Hawks a chance, down 28-31 with 1:47 remaining. Hayfield’s gamble to kick the ball instead of trying an onside kick turned out in their favor, after South County failed on a 4th and 1 that would have ended the game. With 39 seconds remaining, Gleason’s (SO) first opportunity at a game winning drive would come up short, but the never give up attitude that the Hawks displayed after being down by 11 at half, provides great optimism moving forward.
Next up: @ Robinson (2-2) | Thursday, September 28 | 7:00 pm
Hayfield 28, South County 31