GLASGOW – Unusual things can happen in a rivalry game.
St. Georges barely avoided a major upset on Saturday, coming from behind to nip Hodgson 12-7 on Craig Congo’s 40-yard touchdown run with 3:14 to play.
But this game will be remembered more for the trail of penalties, turnovers and frustration these vo-tech rivals left behind. Behold the ugly stats:
• St. Georges was penalized 13 times for 111 yards. Hodgson was flagged eight times for 81 yards.
• The Hawks punted seven times, lost a fumble and turned the ball over twice on downs. The Silver Eagles punted five times, were intercepted five times (four by St. Georges’ Robert Shorts) and turned it over on downs once.
• St. Georges ran eight plays for lost yardage. Hodgson was tackled behind the line nine times. Add in all the penalties, and the teams combined to run 17 plays where they had more than 20 yards to go to make a first down.
“They circle us on their schedule, we circle them,” Hawks coach J.D. Maull said. “We somehow won. I’d love to see how many penalties we had, how many yards we gave up in penalties.”
The Hawks (5-1, 4-0 Blue Hen Flight B) came into the game ranked third statewide in Division II, and they got off to a flying start when Brian Benson broke the second play from scrimmage for a 75-yard touchdown run. A missed PAT left St. Georges with a 6-0 lead just 39 seconds into the game.
But it would be a long time until the Hawks’ next offensive highlight. St. Georges could get no closer than the Hodgson 26 until their winning drive.
“I thought we had a really solid defensive plan, and we knew the things they wanted to do,” Silver Eagles coach Frank Moffett said. “We held them on a couple of fourth downs, and we battled to the last play.”
Hodgson went ahead on its second drive, with a major boost from St. Georges penalties. Marc Perez-Echevarria scrambled for 14 yards, then threw a 12-yard pass to Simian Smith. Then the Hawks jumped offside on a third-and-1 at the 18. Then they did it again twice inside the 10, setting up a first-and-goal at the 2. Perez-Echevarria ran it in, and the extra point by Josue Avila-Lopez gave the Silver Eagles a 7-6 lead with 3:43 left in the first quarter.
It stayed that way until the Hawks launched the winning drive from their own 33 with 6:51 left in the game. But that march started in the wrong direction.
Penalties for unsportsmanlike conduct and intentional grounding shoved St. Georges all the way back to a fourth-and-39 from its own 4. But Hodgson was penalized 15 yards for roughing the punter, giving the Hawks a fresh set of downs from their own 19.
They finally capitalized. Shorts completed passes of 13 yards to Congo and 9 yards to Damani Wells. Then, on first-and-10 from the Hodgson 40, Congo cut to his left, picked up a key block from fullback Jalen Smith and darted back to his right for the winning touchdown.
“I just saw the open side on the left, and I pushed Jalen over to block the dude,” Congo said. “After that, I just saw open field. It was just all speed after that.”
The Silver Eagles (3-3, 2-3) had one more chance. Perez-Echevarria moved them from their own 30 to the Hawks 38 with a 20-yard completion to Steven Small and a 12-yard toss to Marshall Hardin, but his final throw was tipped and intercepted by St. Georges’ Michael Wilson Jr. at the 19 with 2:38 to go.
“We knew we weren’t being disciplined, and we knew we could play better than that,” said Shorts, who snuffed four earlier Hodgson drives with interceptions. “We’ll be all right by next week, going forward. We’re going to clean up some things in practice.”
Contact Brad Myers at email@example.com. Follow on Twitter: @BradMyersTNJ.