Hawkins atones for miscue with TD pass

November 23, 2003|LARRY VAUGHT

LOUISVILLE - No one had to tell Ronnie Hawkins how costly his fumble had been.

"It looked bad. I fumbled, then they scored on a halfback pass we had been working to defend all week to take the lead," said Hawkins. "I got my head down. I knew better than to do that, but I did."

If he did hang his head briefly, he certainly left here Friday night with his head held. His 16-yard touchdown pass to Davis Teater with 37.2 seconds to play gave the Admirals an improbable 27-22 Class A playoff victory over Holy Cross.

Hawkins' fumble early in period two enabled Holy Cross to take a 22-21 lead with 7:05 to play. On Danville's next series, Hawkins had a pass dropped by Charles Penix and then slipped and was sacked on third down.


That forced the Admirals to punt and Holy Cross, which lost to Danville in the 2001 and 2002 playoffs, got the ball at its own nine-yard line with 2:49 to play. The Cougars needed just two plays to get one first down and then were faced with with a fourth down and one play from their own 29. Rather than punt and give the ball back to the Admirals, who were out of timeouts, Holy Cross went for the first down.

"I didn't think they would go for it. But you could tell they just thought they would run over us because they had been successful running," Hawkins, who plays cornerback on defense, said. "Instead, we got a big stop."

Danville did stop Eric Titus for no gain on fourth down, leaving 55.7 seconds for Hawkins to try and get a win.

"I thought Ronnie could do it," Danville coach Sam Harp said. "Good players make pressure plays and that's what he did. He'll be a better player because of this situation, too. The next time he's in this spot, he'll handle it even better."

On first down, Hawkins rolled right and hit tight end Mario Berry for a 13-yard gain.

"We hadn't thrown that pass all game, but we ran it out of the wrong formation. Fortunately, Mario ran the right route," Harp said.

On the second play, he rolled left, saw Teater break open and lofted a pass toward the end zone that he thought was too high. Teater went high into the air, caught the ball and came down inbounds for the game-winning score.

"Mario has the best hands on the team and I knew if I got him the ball, he would make a play," Hawkins said. "Then we ran the same play to the left side. Somebody was chasing Davis and I had to lob the ball. I thought it was too high, but he went up and got it. I was almost positive I had overthrown the ball."

Just like he was positive he had lost the game when he fumbled early in period four.

"It was going to be a pass. I got in a rush and fumbled. I should have just fallen on it, but I tried to pick the ball up and lost it," Hawkins, who also fumbled in period two but recovered that one himself, said. "That was all my fault."

However, Hawkins broke a 7-7 tie in the first period with a perfect 38-yard scoring pass to Teater, who was moved to wide receiver for this game because starter Phillip Dunn was unable to play because of an ankle injury.

"That was a play designed to make their safety choose whether to cover Davis or Mario," Hawkins said. "Davis ran a great route and was wide open."

Hawkins got another scoring throw in period three that broke a 14-14 tie. This time he found Penix open over the middle. Penix made the catch, broke a tackle and sprinted 30 yards to the end zone for a 53-yard scoring play.

Hawkins, a junior, completed just four passes, but they went for 122 yards and three scores.

"We probably should have thrown more," Harp said. "I wanted to stay in the Wishbone and control the ball because we just couldn't stop their run game."

"Our coaching staff has questioned us all year about getting down on ourselves," Hawkins said. "This win should give us some confidence, but it should also teach us a lesson.

"We underrated them. We had guys all week saying Holy Cross was overrated. We didn't play as well as we should have the first half. Then coach Harp told us a story at halftime about how Jeremy (Vaught) played hurt at Mayfield two years ago and made some great catches to help win the game. He told us someone had to want to make a play to win a game and I'm just glad I got a chance to help do that."

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