Hawk power hurts Warriors

Published 11:26 pm Friday, October 28, 2011

Hickory defenders sack Nansemond River quarterback Darwin Barbee during Friday night's Southeastern District Game at Hickory. Hickory beat the Warriors 34-25.

CHESAPEAKE — Nansemond River’s defense has matched most of its challenges and then some this season.

That wasn’t the case Friday night when the Warriors needed a big effort for the sake of their playoff chances.

Hickory’s tailback Andy Eaton bruised his way through the Warrior defense for 230 yards and four touchdowns leading the host Hawks to a 34-25 win over the Warriors (4-5, 3-5). Eaton’s 44-yard touchdown run on fourth down sealed the Hickory (6-3) victory seconds after the Warriors came within a two-point conversion play of tying the game in the final two minutes.

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For most of the night, Nansemond River’s own outstanding running back, senior LaMont Brown, matched the Hawk offense doing his usual work on offense along with a touchdown dash on special teams.

The Warriors, needing a win to improve from just outside a postseason spot entering Friday’s schedule around the region, were on their way in the opening half.

Nansemond River quickly forced a Hawk punt, which was a shank out of bounds, giving the Warriors the ball on the Hickory 40.

Quarterback Darwin Barbee kept an option play and carried for 22 yards on the first NR snap. Brown took a pitch around the left side for a 10-yard touchdown run. Add Kameron Burnor’s successful kick and the Warriors led 7-0 with 5:42 showing in the first period.

With four straight gains by Eaton, the Hawks covered 60 yards and scored less than two minutes later, making it 7-6 Warriors.

Brown carried four times for 52 yards, out of a 60-yard Warrior drive in the second period, capping the quick march with a 5-yard dash through a big hole made by the Warrior line. The Warriors led 13-6 with 5:46 left in the half.

Hickory drove right back at the Warriors. Eaton carried 32 yards to the NR 3. A Hawk holding penalty took a touchdown run off the board and another flag moved Hickory back on a 2nd-and-goal play. Hickory wound up committing 20 penalties on the night.

The Hawks advanced to 4th-and-goal at the NR 2 only for an Eaton dive up the middle to be stuffed head-on by Warrior linebacker DaMario Valentine shy of the goal line.

The Warriors kept the lead but weren’t out of danger. Barbee threw an interception on the second play of the NR possession.

The Hawks scored with a 14-yard run a couple plays later for a 13-13 score.

The Warriors regained the lead as Brown juked and cut his way down the field for an 87-yard kick return touchdown. Brown fielded the kick near the right sideline, sprinted through most of the Hickory coverage all the way to the left sideline and made one last cut past the Hawk kicker at the Hickory 25.

NR’s lead lasted two snaps. The Hawks passed for 62 yards and Eaton powered in from the 1-yard line. The Hawks held a 20-19 lead at halftime.

Hickory’s defense held the Warriors to open the second half while setting up the Hawks near midfield. Eaton scored on a 6-yard run for a 27-19 Hawk lead.

The Hawks didn’t find the end zone on their next two possessions, but their ground game ate up plenty of clock. A Warrior punt returned the ball to the Hawks deep in Hickory territory with 3:06 left in the game.

A fumbled handoff, with NR lineman Tracey Parker Jr. jumping on the ball at the Hawk 10, gave the Warriors new life.

Brown charged ahead to the 1-yard line, then scored from there on 3rd-and-goal.

The Warriors gave it to Brown again on the two-point play. He squeezed through the line but was tripped up, falling inside the 1-yard line, leaving a 27-25 Hawk edge.

The Hawks recovered NR’s onsides kick attempt. NR bottled up three straight Hawk runs and used three consecutive timeouts, leaving a 4th-and-3 with 1:16 left, only for Eaton to power through the line and go the distance.

Brown finished with 19 carries for 132 yards. The Warriors gained 162 yards on offense on the night.

Nansemond River and Lakeland (7-2) will play for the Suffolk city title, along with postseason meaning, next Friday night at NR’s Arrowhead Stadium.