By NICK BROCKMAN, for the Daily Telegraph
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
Hurricane senior quarterback Austin Hensley torched the Princeton secondary at near will with five touchdown passes to propel the Redskins to a 41-21 win Friday night.
Momentum passed between the two squads with nearly each possession as Princeton held its opportunities but Hurricane seized the day behind Hensley's outstanding play that amounted in 301 passing yards.
"He forced one, but most of the time he takes what you give him and he made them pay," Redskins Coach Jeremy Taylor said. "He's that good. He really is. He's a helluva quarterback and I'm proud of him, but I'm proud of everyone really. The offensive line blocked great. If we play like that, we're going to be hard to stop."
Momentum traded with nearly each possession as turnovers plagued both teams. After throwing three first-half touchdowns, Hensley started the second half strong by hitting Brandon Ford for the third of the duo's three touchdown hook-ups. Ford finished with five catches for 139 yards and three scores.
Hurricane forced a fumble on the ensuing Princeton possession before the Tigers could muster a first down. The Redskins appeared poised to make it a three-score ball game until Hensley made his lone mistake of the game, throwing an interception that was returned to the Hurricane 38-yard line.
Princeton turned that mistake into seven points when Devin Allen finished a 10-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown rush. The Tigers surprised the Redskins with an on-side kick, which they recovered.
The Tigers looked to move the ball for the game-tying score but the Redskins defense held, forcing a turnover on downs when Princeton's Tahj Sho-Johnson failed to execute first-down yardage on fourth down.
Hensley made the turnover count with a 32-yard touchdown pass to Henry Sorsaia, giving the Redskins a two-score advantage at 35-21.
Princeton threatened once more, driving to the Hurricane 27, but the Redskins held again on fourth.
Hurricane running back Caperton Humphreys capped a 10-play drive with a 5-yard touchdown. The point-after attempt (PAT) failed. The Redskins held a 41-21 lead, the ultimate final, with 1:41 left in the game.
"I'm proud of the way the kids came together," Taylor said. "We had a lot - more adversity than you could ever imagine this past week and I'm telling you a ton. At one time I was kind of worried until halftime when I could just see it. They were ready. The defense played great, a couple (bad) plays here and there, but that happens. "
Turnovers cost Princeton field position in the first half as Hensley passed with great success. The Redskins averaged a starting position of the Princeton 49-yard line across six first-half drives. Conversely, the Tigers averaged a start on their own 27 on seven possessions.
Hurricane scored the game's first points after a solid Zach Pate punt return provided the Redskins with a start at the Princeton 39. Hensley promptly hit Ford for a 39-yard touchdown strike across the top of the secondary. The kick failed.
Princeton quickly responded to take the lead with its ensuing drive. Tahj Sho-Johnson finished the four-play, 78-yard scoring drive with a 5-yard rush up the middle. With the made PAT, the Tigers led 7-6 with 4:27 left in the first quarter.
Neither team scored again until the waning minutes of the first half when a flurry of activity erupted. Hensley tossed to Ford for a 30-yard touchdown with 3:54 remaining in the half, then threw to Henry Sorsaia for the successful two-point conversion.
The Redskins later forced a fumble, which recovered by Dylan Kimble on the Tigers' following possession. On Hurricane's first offensive play after the fumble, Hensley hit Zach Fitzsimmons for a 38-yard touchdown pass. Brian Hughes nailed the PAT to give the Redskins a 21-7 advantage with 2:16 remaining in the second quarter.
Though it looked Hurricane held the momentum to ride high into halftime, Princeton responded with a four-play scoring drive, capped by a 25-yard Jordan Jones touchdown rush. Hurricane held a 21-14 lead at halftime.
The two teams clearly relied upon competing offensive strategies as Hurricane's Hensley completed 10-of-15 passes for 190 yards and three touchdowns in the first half, while Princeton ran 30 times for 146 yards. The Redskins rushed for just 14 yards on 10 carries in the first half as the Tigers completed just one of six pass attempts for 21 yards.
Hurricane next plays at Cabell Midland, 7:30 p.m. Friday, while Princeton plays host to Spring Valley 7:30 p.m. Friday.
Princeton..............................7 7 7 0 — 21
Hurricane.............................6 15 7 13 — 41
H - Brandon Ford 39 pass from Austin Hensley (kick failed), 6:09
P - Tahj Sho-Johnson 5 rush (Sho-Johnson kick), 4:27
H - Ford 30 pass from Hensley (Henry Sorsaia pass from Hensley), 3:54
H - Zach Fitzsimmons 38 pass from Hensley (Brian Hughes kick), 2:16
P -Jordan Jones 25 rush (Sho-Johnson kick), :35
H - Ford 39 pass from Hensley (Hughes kick), 10:38
P - Devin Allen 1 rush
H - Sorsaia 32 pass from Hensley (Hughes kick), 9:57
H - Caperton Humphreys 5 rush (kick failed), 1:41
First Downs: PR 15, HR 20. Rush-Yards: PR 54-234, HR 26-121. Pass yards: PR 34, HR 301. Comp-Att-Int: PR 2-12-0, HR 16-27-1. Fumbles-Lost PR 4-3, HR 1-1. Punts-Avg. PR 3-37, HR 1-31. Penalty-Yards: PR 8-58, HR 7-74.
Rushing: P - Sho-Johnson 20-84-1, Jones 4-63-1, Allen 16-56-1, Aaron Saunders 2-42, Jay Palmer 9-(-6), Team 2-(-9); H - Humphreys 11-71-1, Hensley 11-38, Jeremy Francis 3-13, Bailey Rose 1-(-1).
Passing: P - Palmer 2-12-34-0-0; H - Hensley 16-27-301-5-1.
Receiving: P - Saunders 1-21, Zen Clements 1-13; H - Ford 5-139-3, Sorsaia 3-51-1, Fitzsimmons 2-48-1, Humphreys 3-34, Alex Wolford 3-29.