Hunt still the "hunt-ed" in ECC football
By Steve Roush
Published in Sports on October 22, 2006 2:18 AM
PIKEVILLE -- The road to the Class 3-A Eastern Carolina Conference title still runs through Wilson.
Hunt scored an offensive and defensive touchdown in the final two minutes of Friday night's game as the defending ECC champ knocked off Charles B. Aycock 23-7 at Hardy Talton Stadium.
The Golden Falcons (7-2, 2-1) and the Warriors (5-4, 3-0) came in the contest as the only teams without an ECC loss. Now with two weeks left in the regular season, it is once again Hunt's championship to lose.
Not bad for a team that started the season 1-4.
"Aycock has a great offense and we knew we had to shut them down to win this thing," said Hunt senior linebacker William Parker, who sealed Friday's victory by picking off a Thomas Pilkington pass and returning it 84 yards for a touchdown with 42 seconds left in the game. "We started off 1-4, but we believed we could win a championship and now we're coming.
The Warriors held senior running back Dontay Taylor to just 69 yards on 18 attempts, well below his 148.9 yards-per-game average. Pilkington, who had thrown for an area-best 1,232 yards coming into the contest, was 14-of-25 passing for 147 yards and a touchdown. But he threw the costly pick after the Golden Falcons had driven more than 50 yards in less than a minute in a desperate attempt to get back into the game.
"It was a battle all night long," Aycock coach Randy Pinkowski said. "We stepped up and played very physical against a very physical football team. We were giving it all we've got, and that's a tough rock to crack right there up front.
"Hat's off to Hunt, they're a very solid football team, they're well-coached and they're not going to make many mistakes. And because of that, they're going to force you sometimes into doing some things you may not want to do.
"And that puts you in a position to make mistakes."
James Pone rushed for a game-high 119 yards on 19 carries and scored a pair of touchdowns to lead the Warriors to their fourth consecutive win. After a scoreless first quarter, Pone capped off a 10-play, 56-yard drive with a 3-yard touchdown run midway through the second period. Then just before halftime, the senior running back broke off a 50-yard run that set up a 20-yard field goal by Zach Thomas with three second left on the clock as the visitors took a 9-0 lead into the break.
The Falcons, however, turned it up a notch in the third quarter as the Aycock defense held Hunt to no first downs while the offense engineered a seven-play, 64-yard touchdown drive that cut the Warriors lead to 9-7. Pilkington hooked up with senior wide receiver Montez Ham three times during the possession as Ham hauled in 10-yard touchdown pass to get the Falcons back in the game.
Ham finished with a game-high six catches for 94 yards.
Hunt, however, kept the Falcons from playing on a short field as Thomas boomed punts of 36, 42, 64 and 52 yards in the second half. In his six punts, he averaged 44.8 yards per boot.
"They need to put a sticker on their kicker's helmet," Pinkowski said. "We have them stopped them one time at their 30 or 35-yard line, and I'm thinking we're going to get the ball back with great field position and the kid punts the darn thing in the end zone. That's a weapon people don't realize -- every time we made them punt in the second half, he pinned us deep in our own territory."
In the fourth quarter, the Hunt defense stiffened, allowing just one first down until Aycock's final drive.
"I can't be any prouder of my kids right now," Pinkowski said. "I mean, we're not the biggest, most physical, football team around. And we just week in and week out go in and play hard against great big huge competition and we're hanging in there. They're a game bunch, they keep getting after you."
NOTES: Senior linebacker Travis Milligan made a whopping 17 tackles in the game for Aycock -- including 13 solos. Ian Calder added 11 stops, Erik Taylor had seven tackles and Anthony Holder had five tackles. Travario Uzzell and Holder had one sack each, Dontay Taylor blocked an extra point attempt, and Ham had a fumble recovery on special teams. ... The Falcons played their last home game of the regular season on Friday, and will take on Eastern Wayne this week at Little Big Horn. Hunt will host Southern Wayne this Friday before take on archrival Beddingfield the following week. ... Hunt quarterback David Hesmer was 5-of-13 passing for 68 yards, but was just 1-of-4 for 17 yards in the second half.
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