Warriors give Serpents first football victory
Alex Swearingen took his first kickoff return of the year 37 yards during the first play of the game Saturday. That would also be his last play of the game, and one of Whittell’s few big plays all day in its homecoming loss to the previously winless Hawthorne Serpents.
Swearingen dislocated his right shoulder, left the game, and left his team with a funk they couldn’t overcome.
“When Alex went down, the team lost all its air, like a deflated balloon,” said Richard Pitts, Whittell’s assistant coach. “You can’t stop playing just because the boss goes down.”
The Warriors fumbled in their next two possessions and went four and out on the two after that to amass a slim few yards on offense in the first quarter.
And although the Warriors had 191 total offensive yards, 21 more than Hawthorne, they suffered a heart-wrenching 14-6 loss to a previously winless team in a day filled with ugly football all the way around.
“In all fairness to our running backs, they’re playing every down on offense and defense. Normally we have a rotation with Alex and Christian (Anton and with Jake (Summers),” said Warrior coach Mike Evans. “But that’s still no excuse for not holding onto the ball. That ball was coming out for both teams and it was as ugly as a game as E anybody’s ever seen.”
The loss is the Warriors’ third in a row. They’re now 1-3 in league and 2-4 overall. Whittell has two more league games — both of which are must-wins if it hopes to advance to the playoffs.
Hawthorne, now 1-3 in league and 1-5 overall, was a disappointing loss for the Warriors.
“It seemed like we weren’t playing as a team,” said quarterback Nick Lowe, who went 13 for 32 for 103 yards and one touchdown pass. “Alex was out after the first kickoff and that really hurt us. But we should have done way better. I don’t know what was happening on offense. The chemistry wasn’t happening.”
Nor was the chemistry happening for Hawthorne’s quarterbacks Nathan Ridley, who went 1 for 3 for five total yards and Brian Harbey, who went 0-for-2 after stepping in during the second quarter.
Hawthorne fumbled and turned the ball over on two possessions in the first quarter and also went four and out on two others.
Earning its two first downs in the last two plays of the first quarter, Whittell then fumbled on the next play. The Warriors finished with five fumbles and one interception.
Hawthorne then made two plays before Whittell recovered the next fumble. The Serpents committed 11 fumbles, but recovered eight.
In the third quarter, Hawthorne’s David Lawson stepped out of the quagmire and began carrying the ball for large gains. One 42-yard gain earned his team a touchdown at 10:43 in the third quarter.
“In the first half I was kind of slacking, and my coach was telling me that I needed to pick it up if we were going to win E The second half I found my confidence,” he said.
Lawson, who was Hawthorne’s only bright spot in a day filled with blackouts, had 21 carries for 138 total rushing yards. He ran for his second touchdown on fourth and two on the Warriors’ 9-yard line in the first play of the fourth quarter.
Lowe made a 5-yard pass to Summers with 56 seconds to play in the final quarter for Whittell’s only touchdown.
“We had a lot of fumbles and a lot of mental mistakes that we need to correct if (we’re going to improve) against Battle Mountain,” said Whittell senior lineman Ian Haessly, who was also a homecoming king nominee. “This was a major loss for us. This was a must win if we’re going to go to the playoffs E As long as we correct those mistakes, we’ll be fine. We’re a strong team. We got a lot of heart and a lot of capabilities.”
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