ASHTON, W.Va. — When things appeared to be at their absolute best, the Wildcats had things take a most unfortunate turn for the worst.
The Hannan football team took a 6-0 lead into the fourth quarter, but visiting Federal Hocking used a pair of Elijah Lucas touchdown runs down the stretch to rally back for a 12-6 victory on Friday night in a non-conference gridiron matchup at the Craigo Athletic Complex in Mason County.
The Wildcats (0-2) built a 6-0 halftime lead after a Dylan Starkey 10-yard run on the final play of the second quarter, and the hosts were well on their way to at least doubling that lead after a big defensive stand late in the third period.
Facing a fourth and five at their own 30, the Lancers (2-2) were forced to punt with just over two minutes remaining in the third quarter.
The punt attempt, however, went awry as a fumbled snap quickly turned into one unsuccessful run attempt for the necessary yardage.
The play resulted in a 9-yard loss and gave the Blue and White possession at the FHHS 21 with 3:53 remaining in the canto.
HHS marched down to the one and on second and goal, what appeared to be sure touchdown run quickly turned into chaos as the ball was fumbled into the end zone — where it was recovered by Federal Hocking for a touchback.
The Maroon and Gold needed seven plays to cover 80 yards as a 5-yard Lucas run tied things up at 6-all with 10:40 left in regulation.
Hannan was forced to punt on its ensuing possession, but the hosts managed to force a big upcoming play when one their players went down with a concussion.
After a near hour-long delay due to waiting on an ambulance and properly attending to the player, FHHS was looking at a fourth and two from its own 42-yard line.
Lucas picked up seven yards and a first down on the ensuing play, but the Lancers followed with a penalty that backed them five yards.
On first down, Lucas ran around the outside and down the left sideline untouched over 57 yards, giving Federal Hocking its first lead of the game at 12-6 with 5:03 left in regulation.
Hannan managed to get the ball down to the FHHS 15 with less than 90 seconds left, but the hosts came up one yard short on fourth and four — giving the guests possession with 1:01 remaining.
Federal Hocking ran two plays and allowed the clock to expire, giving the Maroon and Gold the hard-fought 6-point decision.
After running only two offensive plays in the first quarter — with the second resulting in a turnover — the Wildcats eventually broke into the scoring column following a 10-play, 68-yard drive that ended with a Starkey 10-yard scamper as the first half ended.
Neither squad completed a pass in the contest, with both programs attempting two passes apiece. Fed Hock churned out 271 rushing yards on 47 attempts, while Hannan ran for 192 yards on 36 carries.
The Lancers claimed a 14-10 edge in first downs and finished the night plus-2 in turnover differential. The guests were penalized seven times for 50 yards, while the Wildcats were flagged five times for 35 yards.
Anthony Hamilton paced the HHS ground attack with 113 yards on 15 rushing attempts, followed by Starkey with 39 yards on 11 totes. Ryan Hall also rushed for 28 yards on eight carries in the setback.
Lucas ended the game with 232 rushing yards on 28 attempts, which included 161 rushing yards after the intermission. Ethan McCune also churned out 39 yards on 15 carries for the victors.
Hannan is scheduled to travel to Sherman on Friday for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff.
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Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.