It was another devastating defensive performance, this time against Hopewell, holding them to less than 120 yards of total offense en route to a 35-7 win over the Blue Devils in the final Central Region Division 5 Regional Championship game.
"We're happy to finally break the even year curse," said Hanover Head Coach Josh Just to WHAN Radio in the press box after the game, crediting both seniors and underclassmen for key plays on both sides of the ball.
Sam Rogers opened the scoring with a six-yard touchdown run with 7:11 left in the 1st quarter, and had a chance to extend the lead but overthrew Usman Mahmood wide open in the end zone late 1st quarter, the Hawks turning it over on downs.
Hopewell's vaunted offense, who scored 47 points at Dinwiddie last week, never got on track. Quarterback Reggie Butler was sacked twice on the opening drive of the game for Hopewell as the Hawks tallied five sacks in all.
L.J. Jones, looking good after last week's ankle injury, ended another Hawk drive with a touchdown run for a 14-0 lead with 4:08 left in the first half. Hanover missed another scoring opportunity when a long touchdown pass from Rogers to Mahmood was called back due to an ineligible player downfield penalty.
Hanover's defense set the tone for the second half, immediately stopping Hopewell on the first possession of the 3rd quarter, then giving the ball to Rogers, who found Josh Harris down the sideline for a 54-yard touchdown pass and the Hawks seized the game at 21-0, 7:34 left in the 3rd.
Two touchdown runs by Lamont Stubbs in each quarter extended the lead to 35-0 before Hopewell finally tallied on a 3-yard run by Gabe Dupree to account for the 35-7 final.
Rogers had 289 yards of total offense, while Jones rushed for 56 yards. Harris had three catches for 68 yards, as Rogers was 11-of-16 through the air with one TD pass and one 2nd quarter interception.
Hanover (9-3) will host a state semifinal for the first time ever, next Saturday, December 1st, against Northern Region champion Stone Bridge (13-0), who fell behind 29-7, then scored 55 unanswered points to beat Yorktown (12-1) Friday afternoon 69-50.
There WILL be a new champion in Division 5 this season, as Lake Taylor defeated defending state champion Phoebus tonight in the Eastern Region final, 54-0.
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