When you give up 24 points in the opening quarter on only four offensive plays, you are not suppose to win football games.
Don’t tell that to Archbishop Hannan.
In the highlight of coach Scott Wattigny’s five-game career at the helm, Hannan came back to defeat St. Helena 31-24 Friday night in District 9-2A action.
“What a fantastic win,” Wattigny said. “The first quarter didn’t go our way by any means, but to this team’s credit, our kids kept fighting. I told them this week it was going to be a dogfight, and it is not going to be a pretty win, I promise you. This one tonight wasn’t pretty.
“But it is like I said, this team works their tails off. We had a great week of practice, and they fought for all four quarters. I couldn’t be prouder of them. A win like this, especially in the final three quarters, is what we are trying to do as a program. That is what the plan is for this school’s future. Things are starting to change around here. This team is starting to believe they can be successful.”
Trailing 24-17 at halftime, Archbishop Hannan tied the game on a 13-yard touchdown run by Mitchell Martin-Moorman.
Late in the fourth quarter, Hannan took advantage of a 9-yard St. Helena punt which gave them the ball inside the St. Helena 30. Three plays later, Ryan Hensarling scored from 15 yards out to complete the comeback for Archbishop Hannan 31-24.
“We just decided that first quarter was not going to define this game,” Hensarling said. “The defense kept us in the game, and they were flying around the ball. We knew we could start to run the football, and as the game progressed, we were able to do that tonight. Couldn’t be prouder of my team.
“St. Helena is a really good team. I don’t want to take anything away from them. We just were able to survive that first quarter and then did what we had to do.”
Things got off to a great start for Hannan (3-2, 1-1 9-2A), which took the opening possession of the game and drove 39 yards, culminating with Oliver Murphy’s 4-yard touchdown run to take a 7-0 lead.
St. Helena (4-2, 2-1 9-2A) wasted no time, scoring on its first play from scrimmage when Jeremy Griffin raced 80 yards for a touchdown. Quarterback Ricky Travis’ two-point conversion run gave St. Helena the lead at 8-7.
After forcing a Hannan punt on the ensuing possession, Travis took the first play 30 yards for a touchdown. Aaron Hurt’s two-point conversion run extended the lead to 16-7.
The St. Helena defense got in on the scoring, forcing a Hannan fumble which Kevin Otkins returned 56 yards for a touchdown a 24-7 lead.
Hunter Sellen’s 27-yard field goal, and a 1-yard touchdown run from Hensarling cut the lead to 24-17.
Archbishop Hannan stays at home next week as they welcome Pine to Covington while St. Helena returns home to take on Springfield.