By Andrew Giermak

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 28, 2005

Nansemond River held on to the ball for most of the game, and held visiting Hickory to only 33 second half yards, but could not find their way to the end zone as they lost on Senior Night to the Hawks, 13-6.

After River’s opening possession went three-and-out, the Hawks pounded their way down the field on a 12-play, 54-yard drive that ended with a two-yard touchdown carry by Donnell Brown.

Eleven of Hickory’s 12 plays were on the ground and the Hawks converted all three third downs they faced along the way.

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A 45-yard kick return by Darryl Freeney gave the Warriors the ball on the 50, but three plays and a punt was still the end result.

River’s defense had seemed to stop the Hawks three-and-out on the ensuing possession, but on a fourth-and-17 punt, River roughed the punter, giving Hickory another chance.

The Hawks used that chance well and with 9:33 before halftime, Trey Davis scored on a 39-yard run, putting Hickory up 13-0.

From there, the Hickory ground game was stuffed.

Their passing game was weaker yet, as River held Hickory to 1-for-9 passing and nine yards for the night.

Another strong kickoff return, this time via Chris Boothe, set up River near midfield again. This time the result was a 31-yard Alton Donovan field goal.

Key plays on the drive were Steven Gray’s 7-yard gain around the left side on a third-and-6 at the Hickory 36, and a 17-yard completion from Justin Topping to Jonathan Simpson down to the 12.

The score remained 13-3 until midway through the third quarter.

River’s defense held Hickory three-and-out to begin the half, and River took over on their own 33.

On consecutive long third downs, Topping connected with Simpson for 10 yards and with Freeney for 16 yards, getting the ball down to the Hawk 37. Three straight Boothe carries took it to the 19, but that was as far as River could go.

The Warriors got a 36-yard Donovan boot, to pull within one possession with five in the third.

River’s best opportunity for that touchdown came after a River punt early in the fourth quarter gave Hickory the ball at its own 24.

The first Hawk play was a double inside handoff from one wingback to the other wingback. The second handoff was fumbled, and Boothe was the man at the bottom of the pile with the football.

Taking over at the 23 with 10:53 to go, River soon faced third-and-five.

Topping rolled to his right looking to throw, then kept it and was taken down, after a measurement, three inches short of a first down.

Going for it, Deon Artis got one tough yard right up the middle, which was plenty.

Two unsuccessful runs brought up 3rd-and-11. Topping overshot Cameron Evans in the end zone on third down, and then threw one just beyond Dominique Kimbrough’s fingertips in the endzone on fourth.

River’s defense gave the River offense one last chance as River got the ball at their own 42 with 3:01 left, but the final drive died after one first down.

Phillip Peden and Evans recorded sacks for the Warriors’ defense. Boothe was the leading River rusher with 54 yards on 16 carries.

Topping was 6-for-16 passing with Simpson as his favorite target for three catches and 38 yards.

River’s season wraps up on the road next Friday night as the Warriors (3-6, 2-5) go to Western Branch.

Over at Norcom, Lakeland fell 20-0, while Oscar Smith beat visiting King’s Fork 42-12. The Cavaliers go for their first win of the season at Deep Creek Friday, while the Bulldogs play their final home game against Indian River.