ASHTON, W.Va. — The Wildcats must have found a way to carry momentum through the bye week.
After a week off, the Hannan football picked up its second straight win on Friday night Craigo Athletic Complex in Mason County, as the host Wildcats scored 29 points in the opening quarter and never looked back on their way to a 41-8 victory over visiting Jenkins.
After backing the Cavaliers (0-7) up on the game’s opening drive, the Wildcats (2-3) — winners of back-to-back games for the first time since 1997 — needed just two plays to find their way to the endzone.
Set up by a 24-yard Christian Holland run, HHS senior Logan Nibert broke a 15-yard run for the touchdown. Chandler Starkey made his first of three consecutive point-after touchdown kicks, giving the hosts a 7-0 lead with 9:05 left in the first quarter.
After the Cavaliers converted a fake punt play for their first first down of the night, Hannan stopped Jenkins on its second fourth down of the drive. On the first play of the ensuing HHS drive, Nibert busted through the JHS defense for a 66-yard scoring run, giving the hosts a 14-0 lead with 5:20 left in the first.
Just 59 seconds after Nibert’s second scoring run, the Wildcat defense got in on the scoring fun, as Chris Exline and Riley Griffith combined to tackle a JHS ball carrier in the endzone for a safety.
HHS junior Andrew Gillispie returned the free kick to the JHS 28, and Holland took over from there, carrying the ball into the endzone on the very next play.
The Wildcat defense forced its third three-and-out of the first quarter and took over on the JHS 41, following a Cavalier punt. After earning a pair of first downs, Hannan quarterback Matthew Qualls scored on a two-yard run with 1:42 left in the opening quarter, making the Wildcat lead 29-0.
The Hannan offense cooled off a bit in the second quarter, as the Wildcats’ first drive of the period ended in a missed field goal, their second resulted in a loss of downs and the third was ended by halftime.
The hosts’ defense made up for their lack of offense in the period, as the Wildcats forced a fumble and Nibert returned it 10 yards for the touchdown with 4:07 left in the first half, giving HHS a 35-0 lead.
In the first half, Hannan outgained its opponent 165-to-38 in total offense, while earning a 8-to-3 advantage in first downs.
The Wildcats were intercepted on their first drive of the second half, but the HHS defense came up with its second interception of the day on the ensuing JHS drive.
Facing a fourth-and-20, Holland broke a 26-yard touchdown run with 1:11 left in the third quarter, giving the hosts a 41-0 advantage.
The Wildcats ran just two offensive plays in the fourth quarter, fumbling the ball away on the second one.
Jenkins put together its best drive of the night to finish the game, going 76 yards in 15 plays, with quarterback Lance Bentley scoring on a four-yard run with just three seconds left in regulation. Bentley also ran in the two-point conversion for JHS, putting the final touches on Hannan’s 41-8 victory.
“It feels great, I think it gives us a lot of momentum going into the rest of season,” Hannan head coach Brian Scott afterwards. “Our guys just keep improving week after week, and at this point we’re a whole different team than what we began as. This next week, we’re going to work on additional outside containment and really just perfecting our game at this point.”
For the game, Hannan outgained the Cavaliers 280-to-137 in total offense, including 218-to-64 on the ground. HHS finished with a 11-to-8 advantage in first downs, with both teams committing two turnovers. The Wildcats were penalized 12 times for 100 total yards, while Jenkins was flagged nine times and sent back 60 yards.
“The offensive line has improved a bunch since the beginning of the season,” said Scott. “That’s really where we’ve seen our success pick up. Our line blocked hard in the first half, and our backs found the holes, ran hard, and played well.”
Nibert carried the ball five times and caught one pass for HHS, gaining 120 total yards with a pair of touchdowns. Holland ran three times for 78 yards and two scores, while Stephen Berry carried the ball twice for a total of 39 yards. Jordan Fitzwater added 18 yards on two carries, while Dylan Starkey added one five-yard run.
Dominic Burris hauled in one 26-yard pass for HHS, Alex Lemieux caught a 17-yard pass, while Chris Exline and Chris Wiley had receptions of nine and three yards respectively.
Qualls — who had two carries for three yards and one score — was 5-of-13 passing for 62 yards.
Lance Bentley was 7-of-25 passing for 38 yards, while leading Jenkins on the ground with 47 yards and one score on 16 totes. Jordan Bates completed 1-of-2 passes for 35 yards, while combining eight carries with five receptions for a total of 59 yards. Shawn Laughary caught two passes for 30 yards, while Andrew Watts carried the ball eigth times for 11 yards.
For the Hannan defense, Berry, Griffith and James Edmonds came up with a sack apiece.
Hannan’s last two-game winning streak came with 27-8 victory over Clarksburg Notre Dame on Oct. 17, 1997, followed by 26-0 win over South Gallia on Oct. 24, 1997.
The Wildcats will look for their third straight win on Friday at Beallsville. Hannan claimed a 55-0 victory over the Blue Devils in Ashton last fall.
Alex Hawley can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2100.