Warriors snatch win away from Hawks


Courtesy of Marietta Daily Journal

An off-screen Hillgrove defender narrowly trips up senior receiver Quannie Green (3) on a checkdown pass from quarterback Will Lovett in the third quarter.

Michael Smith, Sports editor

The NC Warrior football team all but clinched home field advantage for at least the first round of the playoffs Friday, defeating the Hillgrove Hawks 35-28 after nearly surrendering a 21-10 halftime lead. After expanding the lead by scoring another touchdown in the third quarter, the Warrior offense began to stall and the Hillgrove passing offense starting exposing the middle of NC’s coverage for big yards, but NC ultimately held on to finish the game up with a win and a great push for second place in the region.

The Warrior began playing strong after faltering on its first drive and falling behind 7-0. However, senior quarterback Will Lovett led the offense down the field on the next possession, eventually throwing a spectacular touchdown across his body on a fourth down scramble with 11 seconds left in the first quarter.

After a quick punt, the NC offense went back to work, scoring a 54 yard touchdown on a quick screen to senior Imad Strozier. Following a Hillgrove fumble a few plays later, the Warriors dialed up a big play action play, and Lovett hit senior receiver Drew Tejchman in stride for a 70 yard bomb to set the Warriors up with a 21-7 lead. The Hawks squeaked out a 45 yard field goal to set up the halftime score of 21-10.

Coming out for the second half, the NC offense never consistently picked up yards until the middle of the third quarter, where a host of Warriors, including Lovett, carried the ball down the field and into the end zone. Hillgrove went down and scored to stay down by 11 with a score of 28-17. Junior Hillgrove quarterback Hunter Arters began picking apart the Warrior defense, completing passes to open receivers and making two great throws for a touchdown and two point conversion to bring the score to a 28-25 NC lead.

Sophomore Christian Singleton made a diving 21 yard touchdown run score the Warriors final points. Hillgrove managed to climb back with a chance to win, as Hillgrove’s kicker bounced a school record 47 yard field goal off the bottom upright to reduce the NC lead to 7.

Senior NC receiver Allon Johnson (15) grabbed the ensuing onside kick to give the offense a chance to run out the clock. Singleton once again carried the ball, picking up big yards and a first down to set up Lovett to take a game-sealing knee.