Mohawks End Season with Win over Corning
The 2013 season came to a close in strong fashion for the Mohawks Thursday night at Parker Field. The hosting Tribe put an exclamation point on a difficult campaign, capping the year with a 33-26 victory over the visiting Corning Bobcats. The game served to honor the senior members of the football and band programs in addition to being the third annual Clay County Relay for Life Rice Bowl.
The long-spanning rivalry between the Mohawks and the Bobcats added another hard-fought contest with Thursday's meeting. The contest was a constant battle between the two programs.
Piggott entered the fourth quarter with a 26-20 advantage, but Corning's Jordan Rainwater broke free on a 35-yard touchdown romp to tie the score at 26-26 pending the PAT with 9:39 left in the game. The visitors may well have taken the lead, but senior Richard Shaw fought through the Bobcat line to block the kick and deny the extra point.
That was close enough for the Mohawks, who put together a scoring drive on their following possession. A good return by Nick McKinnie on the kickoff brought the ball into Mohawk territory. Carries by Austin Murray and Nick Haywood chewed up yardage. Murray made a crucial diving catch in coverage to secure a pass from Logan Dixon to approach the red zone. Murray finished the drive off with a 20-yard touchdown run with 6:51 remaining in the game. Eli Smith converted the PAT to set the final tally of 33-26 in place.
Corning threatened with under a minute left to play. The Bobcats were able to reach the Piggott seven-yard-line, but lost possession of the ball following a big hit by senior Hunter Neeley. Neeley's hit popped the ball up into the air and Ben Jones recovered for the Mohawks, ending the Bobcats' chances.
Both teams scored on their first possessions en route to a 6-6 first quarter. Haywood blasted through for a two-yard Mohawk score with 5:20 to play in the opening frame. Corning's Russell Cox answered with a four-yard touchdown run with 1:49 left in the quarter.
Piggott started the second quarter at the Corning 11-yard-line. The drive finished with a perfectly timed end zone reception by Shaw of a Logan Dixon pass for seven yards and the touchdown. Shaw cut to the corner before turning and catching the pass in one smooth motion. Smith's PAT gave Piggott a 13-6 lead with 10:44 left in the first half.
Cox answered with a three-yard touchdown run for the Bobcats with 3:54 left in the second frame. Corning went for two, but the Mohawks halted the attempt, leaving the guests trailing, 13-12.
Haywood gave the Tribe another score before the end of the half. The senior went through the middle, but bounced outside to race along the Mohawk sideline for a 30-yard touchdown jaunt with 1:19 remaining in the first half. The PAT was blocked, but Piggott took a 19-12 advantage into intermission.
The Mohawks lost possession via an interception in their first possession of the second half, but got the ball back one play later on an interception by Murray at the Corning 32-yard-line. Landon Williams wrapped the series up with an 11-yard touchdown run, spinning through a tackle at the goal line to get through for the score with 5:51 left in the third. Smith's PAT gave Piggott a 26-12 advantage, the largest of the contest.
Rainwater gained 14 and nine yards on back-to-back carries for the Bobcats, keeping Corning in the hunt with a touchdown at the 2:46 mark in the third. Cox ran in the two-point try to close the gap to a touchdown, 26-20.
Piggott finished the game with 248 yards of total offense. Corning had 385 total yards.
Murray gained 93 yards on 16 carries for Piggott. Haywood scored two touchdowns with 76 yards on 11 carries. Shaw notched 22 yards on five carries with a receiving touchdown. Williams gained 35 yards and touchdown on eight rushing attempts.
Cox had 128 yards and two touchdowns on 30 attempts for Corning. Rainwater ran for 104 yards and two touchdowns on 13 carries.
The evening marked the final Mohawk football game for senior players Dylan Johnson, Austin Murray, Richard Shaw, Andrew Roberts, Teddy Gregory, Hunter Neeley, Mason Rahn and Nick Haywood. The eight, along with senior members of the Marching Mohawks, were honored during a special ceremony prior to kickoff.
"The seniors, they deserved to win tonight," Mohawk head coach David Hendrix said. "We've just dealt with so much this year--injuries, tough losses--it would have been easy to just give up. They stuck with it. If anything sums up these seniors besides "tough," it's "class." No matter what happened, they handled themselves with class. They're going to be outstanding men. They already are."
The Mohawks close the season with a 2-7-1 record. The joy shown on the field following Thursday's contest, however, had the appearance of a team which had won much more. The win not only allowed the seniors to exit on a high note by topping rival Corning and claiming the Rice Bowl for back-to-back seasons, it also gave the Mohawks a taste of what might have been, barring just a few bad breaks. Corning (5-5) will advance to the Class 3A State Playoffs this week as the third seed from 3A-3. By sending Corning into such a big game off a loss, the Mohawks are reminded of just how tough they are as a program and the sting of a tough season is softened.
"For once, the breaks went our way," Hendrix said. "Sometimes, you've just got to make your own breaks. Corning's a good team and they're going to the playoffs. This was a big win for our guys."
The Mohawks were presented with the Rice Bowl trophy by Jackie Wallis of the American Cancer Society following the completion of the game. The team celebrated with their reward, tossing handfuls of rice in the air on the emotional night.