It wasn’t always pretty, but, then again, that’s not how Shaw plays football.
In an even matchup between non-region foes, the Raiders grinded out a 22-17 win against Hardaway on Thursday at Kinnett Stadium, trading defensive takeaways and pounding the minutes off the clock on the ground in the second half.
“This is the kind of stuff we’re trying to teach these guys,” Shaw coach Kyle Adkins said after the game. “Sometimes, you have to grind them out.”
The win made it seven in a row over Hardaway for the Raiders dating back to the 1998 season. It was also a good rebound after it struggled against Carver last week.
It appeared early in the game that Shaw may be able to do more than just grind out the win. After the two teams went scoreless through the game’s first 13 minutes, Shaw went ahead on a field goal and, two minutes later, a 51-yard fumble return by Earl Brody.
Hardaway running back Justin Crawford broke off a big run around the right side, but just before going down, the ball squirted out of his hands. Brody picked up the ball and rumbled down the sideline for a score.
Then, with just 39 seconds remaining in the half, Quinnard Thomas jumped a route, intercepted a pass for the Raiders and made it a 16-3 halftime lead. The Shaw defense had five total takeaways in the game, but the Raiders only turned two of them into points.
“I told them that as long as we put points on the board, I don’t care where we get them,” said Adkins, referring to the two defensive scores. “Those guys do a great job over there (on the defense).”
Coming out of the half, Shaw quarterback Tyron Huff connected with wide receiver Jakobi Long for 17 yards on a third-and-12 to put the Raiders up 22-3. It capped a drive that went 51 yards in just over a minute that seemed to put Shaw in complete control of the game.
“We started to see some holes in their defense,” said Long, who finished with three receptions for 64 yards and a touchdown. “I trusted (Huff) to make the pass. He gives us a shot on every play.”
Hardaway didn’t go away, however. Its defense was able to keep Shaw out of the end zone for most of the game, the only exception being Long’s touchdown reception. It also forced three turnovers of its own, including one that got the team back into the game.
On the ensuing drive after Shaw took a 19-point lead, Hardaway was forced into a three-and-out, giving the ball back to the Raiders and appearing to slip out of contention in the game.
On Shaw’s first play from scrimmage after the punt, however, Hardaway’s Walter Palmore, a defensive lineman, somehow jumped in front of a pass, intercepting it and nearly taking it to the house for six. He was hit at the goal line, and fumbled just before crossing the plain, but Torrie Beard covered the ball in the end zone for the Hawks’ first touchdown of the game.
Another fumble on Shaw’s next drive was again covered by Beard, and Hardaway marched 76 yards on seven plays in just over three minutes to make it a one-possession game. Quarterback Blake Berry hit Malik Fowler for a 10-yard scoring strike to make it 22-17 in the third.
Hardaway had its opportunities to take the lead, possessing the ball three more times, including once where a 43-yard pass to Crawford got the ball to midfield. It got no closer, however.
Shaw running back Desmond Gomillia carried the ball seven times in the fourth quarter and totaled 17 carries for 114 hard-fought yards in the game, draining the clock for the Raiders.
Adkins said he kept asking his offensive line if the Hardaway defensive front was tired yet. When the answer was “yes,” the Raiders began pounding away on the ground.
“Desmond is one of those guys who doesn’t know how could he could be,” Adkins said. “He fought hard for those yards, and he’s going to give someone a good player at the next level.”
Shaw gets a week off before hosting LaGrange in its region opener on Sept. 27, while Hardaway travels to Lowndes next Friday.
Thursday at Kinnett Stadium
Hardaway 0 3 14 0—17
Shaw 0 16 6 0—22
S—Hunter Eaton 26 field goal, 10:49
S—Earl Brody 51 fumble return (Eaton kick), 8:38
H—Hector Zamudio 32 field goal, 4:14
S—Quinnard Thomas 35 interception return (kick blocked), :32
S—Long 17 pass from Tyron Huff (2-pt. failed), 10:22
H—Torrie Beard fumble recovery (Zamudio kick), 7:50
H—Malik Fowler 10 pass from Blake Berry (Zamudio kick), 2:11
Records: Hardaway, 2-1; Shaw, 2-1. Next: Hardaway, Sept. 20 at Lowndes; Shaw, Sept. 27 vs. LaGrange at Kinnett Stadium.