Hibriten overpowers Wilkes Central
The Hibriten Panthers fought through numerous penalties and substitution mistakes to pull out a 58-20 over Wilkes Central in Moravian Falls Friday night.
In a game full of big scoring plays, the Panthers’ night was marked by Devell Maxwell, who returned one 70-yard kickoff for a touchdown, and returned a few more nearly all the way.
“One thing teams usually don’t do is kick it to him,” Head Coach Clay Lewis said. “He can take it the distance.”
But even with Maxwell putting up big special teams yards, Hibriten had plenty of adversity to overcome, due to “sloppy” play, as Lewis described it, which included 17 penalties for 146 yards.
The trouble started when Hibriten began substituting players he said, after the Panthers had taken the lead early, saying the players got “comfortable” and “lackadaisical.”
Even with nearly 150 yards in penalties, the Panthers’ offense wasn’t hindered, with both TiShawn Daniels and Jamar Ferguson rushing for more than 100 yards.
Hibriten kicked to start the game, and after forcing the Wilkes Central Eagles to punt from their own 35, Hibriten’s Dontavis Caldwell would return it all the way to the two yard line, setting up the Panthers’ first offensive play, a two-yard touchdown run by TiShawn Daniels to put the Panthers up 7-0 with 9:26 left in the first.
The ball went back and forth between the Panthers and Eagles for most of the first quarter, until Hibriten took possession after a Wilkes punt, starting off the drive with a 21-yard pass from Hibriten quarterback Trey Ellis to Wide Receiver Drake Felder. Two plays later, Ellis would take the ball 16 yards for the touchdown, just to have the score called back for an illegal shift. After an incomplete pass, Ellis would run for 14 before handing it off to Daniels, who would take it eight yards for the touchdown with 50 seconds left in the quarter, setting the score at 13-0 in favor of Panthers.
The Eagles started the second quarter with a punt, and Hibriten made the most of their next possession.
Three first downs in three plays would lead to a three-yard touchdown rush by Ellis, adding on another six points, and after a 2-point conversion attempt failed, the Panthers were up 19-0.
On their next drive, after Wilkes Central was unable to convert on a fourth-down pass, Hibriten went three-and-out, with senior Elijah Baker punting and pinning Wikes at its own 10.
After an unsuccessful run, Eagles quarterback JoJo Horton threw the ball away from his own end zone and was flagged for intentional grounding, resulting in a safety, giving Hibriten two more.
The Panthers only added more pressure from there, with Sophomore Jamar Ferguson returning the Eagles punt to the one yard line, where Jamal Grier would take it in for the score, giving the Panthers a 27-0 lead.
The Eagles mounted a strong drive, totaling 13 plays, but the Hibriten defense stopped the drive in its tracks, successfully defending four plays from within the Panthers’ own five yard line.
Ellis would throw an interception just two plays later, giving Wilkes another chance, but after converting on fourth-and-long, Horton would throw a pick of his own as the half ran out.
Hibriten started the second half with a scoring drive, distancing themselves from Wilkes, 33-0, but the Eagles would finally break the ice with a six-yard touchdown run from Victor Williams.
But any excitement from the score was quickly extinguished as Maxwell returned the ensuing kickoff for a 70-yard touchdown to give the Panthers six more, putting 39-6 on the scoreboard.
Shortly after the start of the third quarter, though, a 12-yard run from Williams would bring the Wilkes crowd back to life, which would start a quick back-and-forth of touchdowns, starting with a one-play drive by Hibriten that sent Daniels 47 yards to put Hibriten on top 45-13.
Wilkes Central answered with two Williams runs, 68 yards total, to give Wilkes 20 points.
Maxwell made another big return on the following kickoff, and two runs from Ferguson would set up a one-yard touchdown run by Monte Simmons, Jr.
Wilkes would fumble on their next possession, leading to a 72-yard touchdown run by Ferguson with :40 seconds left in the game — the final nail in the coffin, giving Hibriten their second win of the season, 58-20.
Next week, Hibriten will hold its first home game of the season as West Caldwell heads to Lenoir for a county matchup.