Not much was expected from the Hanahan High football team in David Morbitzer’s first season at the helm. But the rookie head coach celebrated a region championship on Friday night as his Hawks knocked off Manning 19-14 to claim the 7-AAA title.
Hunter Mills bulled his way into the end zone with 8:12 remaining in the game, providing the only score of the second half as the Hawks’ defense pitched a shutout over the final two quarters.
Manning (6-3, 3-1) reached Hanahan’s 16-yard line in the final seconds, but Hanahan (5-3, 4-0) held off three passes into the end zone.
“The defense made the adjustments and they did a great job, and I am so proud of these kids and coaches,” Morbitzer, a graduate of The Citadel, said shortly after the post-game drenching by the water coolers. “They really work hard every day, and they deserve this. They gave a championship effort, and they are region champs.”
Hanahan’s running back tandem of Gale Ball and Shiron Hart set the pace offensively, combining for 173 yards on the ground. Ball was particularly effective in the latter stages of the game. Mills, a linebacker on defense, also had a 1-yard TD run in the first half.
“He (Ball) still had a lot of tread on the tires, gas in the tank,” Morbitzer said.
Manning quarterback Jack Owens threw for 231 yards, but the Hawks stifled Manning’s running game.
“They didn’t really hurt us in the run game, so our defense was very successful in making them one-dimensional,” Morbitzer said.
Hanahan’s defense came up big early, stopping a Manning drive on fourth-and-3 from the Hawks’ 5-yard line. The offense responded with an impressive 14-play, 96-yard drive with Hart scoring on a 1-yard run on the first play of the second quarter for a 6-0 lead.
The Monarchs answered with an 80-yard drive of their own with Owens hitting Darias Williams on a 20-yard pass connection and a 7-6 lead. Hanahan was penalized three times for 35 yards, including two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties on the drive.
After an exchange of punts, the Hawks used a short field to take a 13-7 lead on Mills’ 1-yard run with 51 seconds remaining in the first half.
However, Manning needed just two passes and a spike to reclaim the lead. Owens hit Aaron Smith with a 28-yard pass to Hanahan’s 35. After killing the clock with a spike, Owens connected with Smith on a 35-yard touchdown pass, claiming a 14-13 halftime lead. Owens was 5 of 6 for 123 yards in the opening half.
Defense dominated the second half as both teams struggled to find consistency. Hanahan’s lone touchdown drive of the second half was a 10-play, 80-yard drive with Ball and Hart accounting for 57 yards on the ground.
Note: Hanahan assistant Steve Blanchard is an assistant on the 2018 South Carolina Shrine Bowl coaching staff. He received his Shrine Bowl jacket in a pregame ceremony.