Hanover’s Cole Elrod was under center facing a tie game late in Friday’s contest on the road against county-rival Atlee.
Elrod dropped back and had “all day” thanks to his offensive line, he said, and saw his tight end Grady Fahed with nothing but green grass around and in front of him.
“That’s my best friend right there,” Elrod said of Fahed. “Just to get him a touchdown was absolutely awesome. He just ran down the field.”
Fahed caught the pass from Elrod and took it 44 yards for the eventual game-winning score in a 30-22 win for the Hawks over the Raiders.
“Rivalry game, you always know it’s going to be a challenge,” Hanover head coach Sam Rogers said. “Atlee is a well-coached team and they are way better than their record is. We knew it was going to be a tough game. I’m proud of our guys for finding a way to win.”
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Elrod had a hand in two other Hanover touchdowns on the night. Just before halftime, the Hawks (8-2) moved quickly down the field on the arm of Beau Sahnow and culminated in a 55-yard catch-and-run from Sahnow to Elrod for a touchdown. Sahnow converted a 2-point conversion to tie the game at 14.
On Hanover’s first drive of the second half, the Hawks moved methodically down the field and Elrod ran it in from a yard out to put Hanover in the lead 22-14 after he also ran in the 2-point conversion.
“Cole is an awesome guy,” Rogers said. “So tough. He’s special…you can literally play him anywhere on the field. You can play him at tight end, receiver, quarterback, linebacker, you can play him wherever. He’s a special player.” It truly was a back-and-forth affair throughout the night. The Raiders (2-8) offense struck first with a 10-yard touchdown run from JJ Lewis on its second drive of the night after a blocked field goal ended a promising first drive.
Hanover needed just five plays to answer as Sahnow ran it in from 6 yards out. Elrod had a key 34-yard run on the drive. The extra point was blocked, however, so the Raiders led 7-6.
While the Raiders’ aerial attack was effective throughout the game, especially early on, Atlee’s second score drive was led by nine straight rushing attempts, including a 4-yard run to convert on fourth down.
The drive ended in the end zone with Tae Gilpin running it in from 5 yards out on a jet sweep from his wide receiver position.
After back-to-back scores from the Hawks that bridged the end of the first and start of the second half, Atlee put together a drive that was kept alive on a fake punt.
On fourth-and-2, Atlee’s Scott Holmes took the direct snap and converted to give the Raiders new life on the drive.
Holmes made his presence known again to cap off the drive as he caught a 30-yard pass from Brooks Hollins for a score. The pair connected again on the 2-point conversion to tie the game at 22.
Atlee looked to have captured an important momentum swing on the next Hanover drive. While the Hawks drove inside the Atlee 10-yard-line, the Raiders defense stood tall, including a touchdown-saving pass breakup by Jay Oxford.
Hanover turned the ball over on downs, but the Atlee offense was unable to take advantage and were forced to punt. Hanover scored on the ensuing drive and Atlee was unable to move the ball thereafter.
“It’s always a good win when you beat Atlee,” Elrod said. “It wasn’t the cleanest, but we found a way. That’s all you can do.”
Hanover advances to the Region 4B playoffs and are projected to host Eastern View as of time of print. Atlee’s season is over.
The Hawks focus now turns to the postseason and Rogers said he’s confident his team can continue to find ways to win.
“I’m excited we have a home playoff game,” he said. “I’m glad these seniors get one more chance to play at home…that’s really exciting.”