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Hart football: Indians cork Patriots late

Hart defense has strong second half in victory

Posted: October 1, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: October 1, 2011 1:55 a.m.

LAKE BALBOA - Both teams struggled to establish themselves Friday night at Birmingham High School as the Hart and Birmingham football squads routinely squandered momentum with inopportune mistakes.

In the end, though, the Indians (4-1) did enough offensively, and their defense shut out the Patriots in the second half, to defeat Birmingham (3-2) 28-20.

For the first time this season, the Indians played only one quarterback as senior Cory Mayes took every snap while sophomore Connor Wingenroth, who had been splitting snaps with Mayes through the first four games, played on defense.

After a back-and-forth first half saw the Indians take a 21-20 lead into the locker room at the break, Mayes orchestrated a four-play, 76-yard drive on Hart's first possession of the third quarter to give the Indians the 28-20 lead.

Mayes would finish 18-of-27 for 286 yards with three touchdowns through the air, one on the ground and one interception.

The Hart offense wasn't able to add to the scoreboard again in the second half, but was able to consistently drain clock behind the running of senior Dylan Edwards who ran for 106 yards on 22 carries.

The defense, though, was the real key, as the Indians held Birmingham starting quarterback Trae Smith to just 85 yards on 9-of-18 pass attempts.

Birmingham running back Isaiah Hastings was held to 88 yards on 16 carries.

"I've got to credit our defense," said Hart head coach Mike Herrington. "They played really well shutting them down in the second half."

The first half wasn't quite so comfortable for the Indians.

After the teams traded scores early in the first quarter, Mayes committed a costly fumble at his own 38-yard line that led to Birmingham's first lead of the game at 13-7 with 8:48 to play in the first quarter.

Hart rebounded quickly as Mayes found Riley Stauffer on a 27-yard pass to cap of a 4-play, 56-yard drive to take a 14-13 Indians lead.

Hart's biggest mistake of the half, though, came on Birmingham's next possession when the Indians forced a three-and-out, but kept the Patriots' drive alive by contacting Birmingham's punter to give the Patriots a first down. The Patriots responded by going 75 yards to take a 20-14 lead with 1:46 to play in the half.

But Birmingham may have sealed its own fate on the ensuing kickoff when it attempted an onside kick that was recovered by the Indians at their own 43-yard line.

After Edwards ran for 21 yards, Mayes found wide receiver Tim White for a 23-yard pass reception and after two unsportsmanlike penalties on the Patriots, the Indians had the ball at the 2-yard line.

White would finish the game as the team's leading receiver with 105 yards and a touchdown on four receptions.

Mayes gave the Indians the lead with just 39 seconds left in the half on a fake reverse to White and ran 2 yards into the end zone for the 21-20 lead.

"It's the same thing (as our loss to Notre Dame)," Birmingham head coach Jim Rose said. "Against good teams, you can't give them the ball on a short field."

The Patriots had one chance late to get back in the game when wide receiver Marcus Harris dropped what would have been a 69-yard touchdown.

And to end a sloppy night in Lake Balboa, the Patriots jumped off sides on a Hart 4th-and-1 play with under two minutes left, and the Indians ran out the clock.

It may not have been pretty, but after an impressive defensive performance in the second half, the Indians headed home with a victory.




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