Two-touchdown leads typically don’t provide football coaches with much comfort, but Hartley’s Brad Burchfield had plenty of faith in his playoff-tested group and the host Hawks held off a surging London team in a Division III, Region 11 first-round playoff game Nov. 8.
Top-seeded Hartley needed to recover an onside kick with less than a minute left to survive and advance with a 14-8 win over the eighth-seeded Red Raiders.
Hartley improved to 10-1 and will face fourth-seeded Granville in a regional semifinal Nov. 15 at a neutral site. London finished 8-3.
“We’re happy to get out with a win, but I never thought the game was in doubt,” Burchfield said. “Obviously, you’d like to win by 30, but there was no quit in them. They battled us up front, and it was a good battle.”
The Hawks held a 14-0 halftime lead before London finally got its offense rolling in the fourth quarter.
Quarterback Juane Gardner’s 11-yard touchdown toss to Ethan Minner came with 52 seconds left and a two-point conversion followed.
But the onside kick was quickly recovered around midfield by Hartley, which has won six games in a row since losing to Clarksville Clinton-Massie on Sept. 27.
“I’m not going to lie, I was a little nervous coming into (this game),” Hawks running back and linebacker Mason Sawyer said. “They play the same style of football Clinton-Massie does. They pound it, and you can lose sight of the ball sometimes in the backfield.”
Sawyer’s 1-yard touchdown run with 3:25 left in the second quarter gave Hartley a 14-0 lead.
Marcellis Parker made it 7-0 on the Hawks’ first drive of the second quarter when he scored on a 10-yard run. He finished with 56 yards on four carries.
Jalan January didn’t reach the end zone, but he led Hartley’s running game with 86 yards on 16 carries.
The Hawks finished with 202 yards rushing to London’s 167.
Outside of its final drive that went 70 yards, the Red Raiders, who had three turnovers, including two fumbles, in the game, found yards hard to come by.
Hartley’s Angelo Evans intercepted a pass by Gardner near the goal line on fourth-and-11 from the Hawks’ 22-yard line, ending a threat early in the fourth quarter.
==========Team 1 2 3 4 Final LONDON 0 0 0 8 8 HARTLEY
0 14 0 0 14
H—Parker 10 run ( Hawk kick)
H—Sawyer 1 run (Hawk kick)
L—Minner 11 pass from Gardner (Sollars run)