The game turned into a classic shootout with both teams trading touchdowns in the fourth quarter. Hawkins and Mater Dei Catholic were all tied, 42-42, with 11 seconds remaining in the game when Hawkins kicker Brandon Sanchez drilled a 34-yard field goal to give the Hawks the lead. On the final play of the game, Hawkins scooped up a fumble and returned for a touchdown, giving the Hawks a 51-24 win.
Despite the offensive output, the Hawks’ defense had their hands full with Oregon commit CJ Verdell, who rushed for 286 yards on 28 carries while adding five touchdowns and a touchdown as a kick returner.
“I feel we have the athletes and skill players to score on anyone,” Hawkins head coach Milvon James. “He (Verdell) made great plays. It was a great feeling for our team; to fight hard and come out with the win.”
Hawkins trailed 28-14 at halftime. Hawkins Athlete Greg Johnson took a 14-yard run to cut the lead, 28-21 in the third quarter. After a defensive stop, Hawkins quarterback Dylan Lemle scrambled right and found Eric Fuller Jr. in the end zone for 19-yard touchdown, tying the score, 28-28, in the fourth quarter.
“I knew this was going to be a tough game but I believed in my team,” Johnson said. “I was confident in our kicker. I’ve seen him hit 40 and 50 yarders in practice.”
After a Johnson interception, Lemle scored on a keeper from a yard out in the second quarter.
Verdell scored on runs of 26 and 50 for a 28-14 lead going into halftime. Johnson took the handoff and scored from 14 yards out, cutting the lead 28-21 in the third quarter.
Verdell answers with his fifth touchdown of the game, giving Mater Dei the 35-28 lead with 9:38 left in the game. The Hawks 7-play drive was capped by a 7-yard touchdown run by Johnson, tying the score, 35-35.
A 14-yard touchdown run by Verdell gave Mater Dei a 42-35 lead with 5:35 left in the game. Johnson added a 3-yard touchdown run to tie the score, 42-42.
“I believe in our kicker,” James said. “He’s made game winners before so that part was routine. He has ice in his veins.”
A 39-yard catch by Jalen Hall set up Sanchez’s 34-yard field goal with 11 seconds left in the game.
“I had my team’s support so I felt good,” Sanchez said. “I was confident and I knew I could make that kick.”
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