There was defense and there were turnovers, but ultimately Hahnville came away with a 24-14 victory over Woodlawn on Friday night at Panther Stadium.
Hahnville (1-0) turned the ball over four times and allowed nearly 150 rushing yards just in the second half, but the defense forced enough key stops and the offense did just enough to best the Panthers.
“We had chance to make it an easier game, but the turnovers hurt us,” Hahnville coach Nick Saltaformaggio said. “But to come on the road against a quality opponent, a playoff team from last year, and get a win was important for us.”
Hahnville opened the game by driving right down the field. The Tigers scored on Drew Dunn’s 9-yard run. HHS didn’t reach the end zone again until just less than six minutes remained in the game. That’s when quarterback Mike Neal was nearly sacked but evaded the pressure and fired an 18-yard touchdown pass to Dunn.
“It seemed like the pass was going to break down, but Mike did a great job keeping the play alive and made a great ball to Drew,” Saltaformaggio said. “That’s what it takes to win these games.”
Defense helped keep Woodlawn (0-1) in the game. The Panthers played well enough to nearly negate its five turnovers, two special team miscues and eight penalties.
“Turnovers and penalties got us tonight,” Woodlawn coach Daniel Luquet said. “When you play good teams. ... Teams that go deep into the playoffs, you can’t kill yourself with penalties and turnovers.”
The Panthers forced four fumbles and recovered two of them. Senior linebacker Malik Brady returned an interception 50 yards for a touchdown.
“Our defense plays hard,” Luquet said. “The biggest thing for them is to get adjusted to the game and see what the other team is doing, and then we make adjustments. We’re fast, physical and get after you.”
Woodlawn’s opening drive was promising but sputtered inside the red zone and yielded no points. Hassan Chaboyta missed a 30-yard field goal. Chaboyta also had a punt snap go over his head on the Panthers’ last drive of the opening half. The result was a 9-yard punt that gave Hahnville with good field position, and Matthew Boyer kicked a field goal as the half ended.
Woodlawn took a 14-10 lead in the fourth quarter, but a Javin Myers fumble put the Tigers deep inside Panthers territory, and the drive resulted in the go-ahead touchdown.
The Panthers defense put forth a valiant effort but Hahnville prevailed to reclaim the lead.
The two teams were fairly even from a statistical standpoint. They had the same number of first downs (17) and plays (62) and there was only a 10-yard difference in total yards (342 for Hahnville and 332 for Woodlawn). One big difference, however was in the running game: Hahnville outrushed Woodlawn by nearly 100 yards. The Tigers were led by Anthony Williams who had 100 yards on 14 carries.
It was hardly a perfectly played game by Hanhnville but as Saltaformaggio said it was a win for nonetheless.
“As the saying goes: Ugly wins are better than pretty losses.”