NELSONVILLE -- Led by senior running back Sam Mackowiak, the Hartley High School football team scored on each of its first six possessions and beat Wheelersburg 42-20 in the Division V, Region 17 championship game Nov. 23 at Boston Field.
The win gave the Hawks their third regional title in four seasons and sets up a state semifinal against Akron Manchester on Nov. 30 at a site to be determined.
Mackowiak rushed 24 times for 240 yards and five touchdowns for the Hawks, who improve to 12-1 while the Pirates finish 11-2.
“(Coach Brad Burchfield) has been telling me to lower my shoulder, and my line does a really good job of opening those holes,” Mackowiak said.
Hartley took control of the game in the second quarter.
With 9 minutes, 16 seconds left in the first half, Mackowiak ran for a 25-yard touchdown to make it 21-6.
Wheelersburg drove to the Hartley 20 on the ensuing possession, but Hartley’s Alonzo Saxton intercepted a halfback pass from Austin May in the end zone with 6:27 to go before halftime.
The Hawks drove 80 yards in nine plays on their next drive, with Quri Hickman running for a 1-yard touchdown to make it 28-6. Mackowiak ran for 37 yards on the previous play.
The Pirates moved deep into Hartley territory on the final possession of the second quarter, but a slew of Hartley defenders stopped Miller at the Hawks’ 1-yard-line to end the half.
Mackowiak added touchdowns of 56 yards and 1 yard in the second half. Hartley finished with 405 yards rushing.
Wheelersburg cut it to 35-20 with 1:24 left in the third quarter and recovered the onside kick, but Miller was intercepted four plays later by Saxton. Miller rushed for 110 yards but attempted just 10 passes after passing for 28 touchdowns and more than 2,300 yards through 12 games.
“I’m very surprised because throwing the ball has been their strong point,” said Saxton, who rushed for 63 yards and had two receptions for 29 yards in addition to his two interceptions. “As a team we contained them.”
H--Mackowiak 2 run (Barringer kick)
W--Ellis 2 run (pass failed)
H--Mackowiak 7 run (Barringer kick)
H--Mackowiak 25 run (Barringer kick)
H--Hickman 1 run (Barringer kick)
W--Parsley 1 run (kick failed)
H--Mackowiak 56 run (Barringer kick)
W--Ellis 5 run (Miller run)
H--Mackowiak 1 run (Barringer kick)