Panthers match up well with Hanson but fall short
By: GEOFFREY STOUTE
FRANKLIN — Heading into Friday’s game against Berwick, Hanson head coach Richard Sandusky said he wanted to establish the running game and then incorporate play action passes.
Early in the second quarter, the Hanson Tigers (5-2) already had done both, jumping out to a 22-0 lead en route to a 42-6 homecoming victory against the Berwick Panthers (0-7)
Hanson strictly used its running game on its first two series, scoring on drives of 55 yards and 87 yards, respectively. Kole Fluke scored on a 10-yard run on the first drive with 8 minutes, 21 seconds remaining in the first quarter, while Beau Ancona carried the ball through the middle of the Berwick defense for a 2-yard score on the second drive.
Hanson quarterback Drake Rodriguez’s two-point run was no good on the first drive, while Haden Judice successfully completed the two-point run on the second score for a 14-0 lead with 1:29 remaining in the first quarter.
Hanson continued its hot start on its third drive when Rodriguez successfully completed his first pass attempt, a play-action pass to wide receiver Taylor Barrilleaux for a 63-yard gain down to the Berwick 1.
One play later, Fluke crossed the goal line. Judice’s two-point run was good for a 22-0 lead with 11:44 remaining in the second quarter.
Almost four minutes later, Rodriguez turned to the play-action pass again as he found Barrilleaux for a 48-yard score. Fluke’s two-point run was no good for a 28-0 HMS lead with 8:15 left.
“That’s what we’ve really been working on, and that’s really our game,” Sandusky said of the ground game and play action pass. “We got some big, physical kids up front and we like to try to establish the running game, and we were fortunate enough that it worked out for us tonight.”
Hanson churned out 382 total yards — 203 on the ground and 179 through the air.
Ancona led the Tigers with eight carries for 99 yards and two scores, while Fluke finished with six carries for 48 yards and two scores.
Through the air, Rodriguez completed six of 10 passes for 179 yards and a score, while Barrilleaux hauled in two receptions for 111 yards and a score.
Already up 28-0, Hanson closed the first half with a 6-yard score by running back Collin Broussard with 18.3 seconds left. Broc Buckner’s two-point run was good for a 36-0 halftime lead.
For Berwick, the Panthers moved the ball into Hanson territory twice in the first half, once on the Panthers’ first drive following a 36-yard completion from quarterback Reed Leonard to Lee Rhodes, to the Hanson 40.
However, the drive ended when Broussard and Kade Naquin each recorded sacks on Leonard on consecutive plays for a net loss of 18 yards.
The Hanson defense harassed Leonard throughout the game, recording six sacks in the first half, including three by Broussard on the Panthers’ first two drives.
Berwick’s second trip into Hanson territory ended when Brad Lemoine was stopped well short of the first down marker at the Hanson 40 on a pass completion from Leonard.
“They’re a good football team,” Berwick coach Craig Brodie said of Hanson. “I thought physically we matched up with them. They played harder than we did, and they out executed us. I was happy that we didn’t give them anything. They earned what they got. In the past games we’ve fallen behind early, giving them easy touchdowns and field positions. If it’s a positive, I guess, we made them earn it.”
The Tigers lone second half score came after the Hanson defense recovered a fumble by Berwick’s Lucas Loya on the first play of the second half at the Berwick 40.
The key play on the scoring drive came when Rodriguez, under pressure from the Berwick defense, completed a 30-yard pass to tight end Corey Landry on a third down and 10 play down to the Berwick 10. One play later Ancona scored on a 10-yard run.
Judice’s two-point run was no good, but the Tigers led 42-0 with 9:40 left.
Third-string quarterback Drew Landry, who replaced Leonard after the junior was injured on a pass attempt early in the third quarter, directed Berwick’s lone score.
The sophomore replacement (backup Bobby Boudreaux is injured) rushed eight times for 63 yards to lead the Panthers’ ground game.
On the Panthers’ scoring drive — a nine-play, 53-yard series — Landry rushed for 32 yards, while Matt Skelton added the remaining 21 rushing yards, including a 1-yard run to cap the drive with five minutes left. Skelton’s two-point run attempt failed.
Brodie said Landry has shown improvement in junior varsity play.
“He’s been really coming on,” Brodie said. “He’s been taking more snaps since Bobby was out.”
Despite the score against the Hanson reserves, the Tigers limited the Panthers to 90 total yards, including 51 yards on 34 carries (1.5 yards per carry).
Through the air, Leonard completed three of eight passes for 39 yards.
The Panthers also fumbled eight times, losing two.
While Leonard was on crutches following the game, Brodie said his injury wasn’t serious.
Injuries, though, are something the Panthers have been battling this year.
“We’re piecemealing,” Brodie said. “We’re playing with some guys that don’t have a whole lot of experience, but we’ve played a lot of JV games this year, and we’re going to continue to play JV games and just try to get better.”
Both Hanson and Berwick return to district play this Friday. Hanson travels to face Ascension Episcopal in District 8-1A action, while Berwick hosts Kaplan in District 9-3A play.