Defense carries Hibriten to quarterfinals
"Bend but don't break" was the motto for the Hibriten defense on Friday night.
The Panthers gave up plenty of yards, but came up with the big stops in crucial points of the game to lead Hibriten to a 28-18 victory over Pisgah in the second round of the 3A state playoffs.
"Our defense has really come on strong these last three or four weeks," Hibriten head coach Clay Lewis said. "We were a little concerned because we have not seen a team throw the ball as well as they (Pisgah) do. Our defensive coaches had a good game plan. We were able to get some pressure on the quarterback and when we didn't get pressure we had pretty good coverage. That team can score from anywhere on the field at any time so it's a tribute to our defense to hold them to 18 points."
The fifth seeded Panthers advance to the state quarterfinals where they will host No. 9 Forestview. Forestview upset No. 1 Freedom 35-34 in Morganton.
"I'm just happy to still be playing next week," Lewis said. "Playing at home is great for us, but at this point in the season, every game is tough. There are no pushovers. Tonight certainly wasn't a pushover."
Hibriten struggled mightily on offense in the first half, beginning with a game-opening drive that totaled negative six yards. After a Hibriten punt on the first possession, Pisgah took the ball into Hibriten territory before the Panthers' defense came up with a big stop on fourth down.
"Defensively, they were real strong up front," Lewis said. "I think we had a hard time adjusting to their quickness up front."
Following another three-and-out for Hibriten, McKinley Brown hit Jesse Martinez for a 44-yard completion to put Pisgah at the Hibriten 2 yard line. One play later, Lucas Hall ran it in from two yards out to give the Bears a 7-0 lead.
The Hibriten finally got something going on its third possession of the game. On the fourth play of the drive, Devell Maxwell found a seam and ran 34 yards for the score. The Luke Robson PAT tied the game at 7-7.
Later in the half, the Bears drove all the way down to the Hibriten 1 yard line, but the Panthers held strong and stopped Pisgah on downs. On Pisgah's next possession, the Bears got into Hibriten territory once again, but an interception by Montell Killian kept the game tied going into the half.
The Panthers opened the second half in a big way. After forcing a three-and-out, the Pisgah punt went just 10 yards and Hibriten took over at the Bears' 34. Three plays later, TiShawn Daniels scored the first of his two touchdowns from 28 yards out.
The Bears quickly responded with a 70-yard pass play to Hunter Wike from Brown. Wike caught the ball down the right side, waited for blockers to catch up to him, made a couple cuts so he could reverse the field before diving into the end zone for the score. Hibriten then committed two penalties on the PAT, so Pisgah elected to go for the two-point conversion and Brown it in on a quarterback sneak to put the Bears up 15-14.
Later in the third, Pisgah drove down to the Hibriten 17, but was forced to settle for a field goal. Nathan Higdon was good from 25 yards out to extend the Bears' lead to 18-14.
Hibriten fired right back on its next possession, scoring on the first play. Daniels busted through the middle of the Pisgah defense and ran for a 75-yard touchdown. The Robson PAT put the panthers ahead 21-18.
On the ensuing possession, a bad snap went over Brown's head and Killian recovered the fumble to give the ball right back to the Panthers on the Pisgah 25. Two plays later, Maxwell caught a toss sweep to the right side and bolted into the end zone for a 25-yard score.
Pisgah never threatened again.
HIBRITEN 28, PISGAH 18
HIBRITEN^7 ^0 ^14 ^7 – 28
PISGAH^7 ^0 ^11 ^0 – 18
P — Lucas Hall 2 run (Nathan Higdon kick), 4:33.
H — Devell Maxwell 34 run (Luke Robson kick), 2:32.
H — TiShawn Daniels 28 run (Robson kick), 8:30.
P — Hunter Wike 70 pass from McKinley Brown (Brown 2-pt. run), 6:39.
P — Higdon 25 field goal, 1:34.
H — Daniels 75 run (Robson kick), 1:24.
H — Maxwell 25 run (Robson kick), 11:51.
RUSHING — Hibriten: Devell Maxwell 9-95, TiShawn Daniels 6-93, Jacob Copper 14-50, Zac Walker 6-34, Daquan Suddreth 3-14, Team 3-(-23). Pisgah: Vadrey Crouch 12-60, Lucas Hall 2-4, McKinley Brown 12-(-10), Team 1-(-12).
PASSING — Hibriten: Jacob Copper 1-4-0, 6 yards. Pisgah: McKinley Brown 15-29-1, 323 yards; Jesse Anderson 0-1-0, 0 yards.
RECEIVING — Hibriten: Zac Walker 1-6. Pisgah: Hunter Wike 3-102, Jesse Martinez 4-93, Jesse Anderson 3-65, Trevor Johnson 5-63.