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'Cats shoot down Hancock in second half of 'Backyard Brawl'

September 11, 2005|By BILL STERNER/Staff Correspondent

HANCOCK

Like two tired, dusty gunfighters, Hancock and Williamsport squared off Saturday afternoon with steely stares in the heat.

Each team waited for the other to flinch.

After 24 minutes of play, neither side had shown any sign of backing down.

But the humid conditions and the grueling grind of two teams that refused to throw the ball finally took its toll on the Panthers. Williamsport ran for two touchdowns in each of the last two quarters to win 26-0 in the season opener for each team.

Kyle McDannell slashed into Hancock's line on a perfectly timed counter play, going 24 yards for a touchdown just two minutes into the second half for a 6-0 Wildcats lead.

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"We told the kids all week that this is Washington County's new version of the 'Backyard Brawl,'" Williamsport coach Adrian Custer said. "These kids on both sides of the ball played hard and to the end. I'm just glad things worked in our favor."

The Panthers bottled up Williamsport throughout most of the first half, but had trouble getting out of their own way at times in the second half.

"I'll tell you, we sort of uncharacteristically collapsed after that first touchdown," Hancock coach John Blake said. "We missed our opportunities in the first half."

The Panthers ran twice as many plays as Williamsport in the first half and created three fumbles and a blocked punt on defense. But as each opportunity in the red zone was squandered, Hancock gave the Wildcats new life.

"If we push ourselves and score on a couple of those opportunities, it is a different game in the second half," Blake said. "We may have pulled the rip cord a little early when things got tough and it cost us."

Williamsport sophomore Brad Hewitt broke loose off the right side after a Panthers turnover and scored from 24 yards out at the end of the third quarter.

"We sucked it up and played through the heat," Custer said. "I've said all along we have to depend on our sophomores, and Brad is one we count on."

But it was the combination of seniors Ian Hamilton, Kyle Cunningham and Justin Bussard that took Hancock to task.

Hamilton (15 carries for 73 yards) and Cunningham (9 for 53) pounded the Panthers' defensive core, allowing Bussard to ice the game on a 12-yard burst up the middle with just under 9 minutes left. Adam Cook completed the scoring with a 4-yard TD run.

"Hancock hung tough. We knew they would," Custer said. "But our kids came through when they had to."

Sophomore Jesse Duvall added 89 yards on eight carries late in the game for Williamsport.

Jaret Trail led the Panthers with 18 carries for 63 yards.

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