The Hanover Hawks arrived at Highland Springs Friday afternoon already with a disadvantage: the absence of Sam Rogers.
Rogers dislocated his finger in practice Monday, had surgery, and is expected to miss at least one more game (October 5th vs. Atlee). This is a story first reported by HanoverCountySports.org on Twitter.
Andrew Knizner played the whole way at quarterback, Hanover built a 21-6 third quarter lead, and Donte Haynesworth did a bit of everything, catching two touchdown passes, blocking an extra point, intercepting a pass, and recovering a fumble to race 35 yards for a defensive touchdown. That made the score 21-6.
Then the resurgence of Highland Springs began.
The Springers scored 18 unanswered points, including the winning touchdown with no time remaining to storm back for a 24-21 win over the Hawks in the Capital District opener for both teams.
Highland Springs found a way to stop the Hanover running attack of L.J. Jones, held to under 100 yards, with most of those yards gained in the first half. Slowly but surely, Highland Springs whittled away at the lead until they forced a Hanover punt, taking over at their 47 yard line with 1:47 left in the game.
In the final minute, reaching the Hanover 23, Springers quarterback D.J. Johnson connected across the middle on a 15-yard completion. Highland Springs hurried to the line of scrimmage to spike the ball, and there were only three seconds left in the game.
Highland Springs sent the field goal unit out to attempt to tie the game, but Hanover called time out. This gave Highland Springs head coach Loren Johnson time to reconsider.
After the timeout, D.J. Johnson and the offense returned to the field, and it was all or nothing for Highland Springs. From the 8, Johnson took the snap, rolled left looking to pass. Seeing no one open, he made a beeline to the left corner pylon of the end zone, just beating Ryan Mallory's attempted tackle, and the Springers had completed the comeback.
The heartbreaking loss puts Hanover at 0-1 in the Capital District, 3-1 overall, but still in great shape for reaching the Division 5 playoffs. To not have Sam Rogers on the field and lead a game at Highland Springs for 31 1/2 minutes is a fantastic accomplishment. But they couldn't make that one final stop.
Hanover returns home next Friday for a rivalry matchup in the Capital against Atlee.
Atlee moved to 3-1 tonight as Morris Jackson continues to rack up incredible rushing numbers. 343 yards and five more rushing touchdowns for Jackson tonight as the Raiders defeated Henrico 59-34. Jackson now has rushed for 1,035 yards and scored 18 rushing touchdowns in just four games.
The bad news for Atlee is the defense, again, allowed a large amount of points, albeit some of them when the game was no longer in doubt. The Raiders now prepare for Hanover next Friday on the road.
Lee-Davis fell in their Capital District opener at home to Varina, 27-0. Chris Simpson ran for 136 yards for the Confederates, now 0-1 in the Capital, 2-2 overall. Lee-Davis next faces Henrico at home next Friday.
Three touchdown passes from Tyler Phelps to Travis Phillips weren't enough as John Marshall outlasted Patrick Henry in Ashland 27-21 in their Colonial District opener. The Patriots fought back from an early 12-0 deficit but could never take the lead, falling to 0-1 in the Colonial, 0-4 overall. Patrick Henry hopes to get their first win next Friday when they travel to Douglas Freeman, who lost Friday night to Hermitage 55-21.
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