After both teams traded a pair of long scoring drives and one turnover apiece, New Hanover took control of the game by possessing the ball for all but nine plays during a 12-minute stretch as the Wildcats ran away from Laney 30-14 on a sloppy track at Holliday Stadium in Buctown.
Keegan Santos was the featured running back in the high-powered New Hanover offense with two trips to the end zone, while Burke Estes completed 21-of-28 pass attempts for 269 yards and two touchdowns.
“I thought we were flat coming out, but it was a great effort all around despite some personal foul penalties that we need to clean up,” said New Hanover Coach Earl Smith. “We’re 2-0 in conference and to get wins over Hoggard and Laney back-to-back is tough. Now it’s time to regroup and get ready for Friday against West Brunswick.”
Following a 34-yard run untouched up the middle by Jamius Beckett to put Laney in front 7-0 with 5:35 to play in the first quarter, the Wildcats answered with an 11 play, 65-yard possession, capped off on a two-yard touchdown by Santos to even the score late in the opening frame.
The Bucs were forced to go three-and-out on the next possession, but a sack and forced fumble led to a Laney recovery by Travone McGhee. However, a bad snap gave the ball right back to New Hanover as Nigel Hines came away with the fumble and good field position led to a 21-yard field goal by Josiah Eason to grab a 10-7 lead at the break.
Back-to-back false start penalties forced a long down and distance for the Wildcats when Estes hit Garrett Walston on third down to move the chains, which sparked a 16-play drive, lasting more than seven minutes.
“The first couple of series we pinned them deep and we didn’t do anything until they went ahead,” Smith added. “We woke up a little bit and we talked about leaving them in the game. That field goal was big, but the field conditions were a neutralizer tonight. We did what we had to do offensively and I thought our defense played really well.”
After the long possession to end the first half, New Hanover took the opening kickoff to start the third quarter and moved right down the field to take a two-score lead when Santos rushed for his second touchdown on a six-yard carry to make it 16-7 in favor of the Wildcats. Santos had a 55-yard run on the drive and Estes hit Lamont Howard for a 20-yard pass.
Laney was held to just five offensive snaps in the second period and punted after just three plays once New Hanover extended their advantage midway through the third quarter.
Estes connected with Howard on a 30-yard strike with 4:54 to go in the frame to make it 23-7 and the senior quarterback closed the scoring for the Wildcats with a 28-yard touchdown to Walston midway through the fourth quarter. Walston, who signed to play at the University of North Carolina late last week, finished with six receptions for 104 yards, while Howard made five catches for 96 yards. Estes found five different receivers in the game and Santos rushed for 99 yards on 12 carries.
New Hanover ran off 30 unanswered points after going down 7-0 until Beckett found the end zone late in the game on a five-yard run to close the deficit with 1:02 remaining.
Laney dropped to 2-1 in conference and 3-5 overall heading into a short week of practice as the Bucs travel to Hoggard on Friday, Oct. 16.
“It got sloppy in the second half and we made too many mental mistakes,” said Laney Coach Aashad Yeoman. “It’s a testament to those guys and the ability for them to execute. Penalties killed us and it wasn’t as much as what they did and more of us shooting ourselves in the foot. We had opportunities, but it was one thing here and another little thing there. We can’t harp on it because we need to have a good week heading into another big game come Friday.”
New Hanover moved to 2-0 atop the Mideastern Conference standings and 5-2 overall. The Wildcats play host to West Brunswick on Friday.
New Hanover 7-3-13-7=30
Laney- Jamius Beckett, 34-yard run, (PAT, Michael Hoffman), 5:35
New Hanover- Keegan Santos, 3-yard run, (PAT, Josiah Eason), 1:15
New Hanover- Josiah Eason, 21-yard field goal, :02
New Hanover- Keegan Santos, 6-yard run, 7:50
New Hanover- Burke Estes, 30-yard pass to Lamont Howard, (PAT, Eason), 4:54
New Hanover- Burke Estes, 28-yard pass to Garrett Walston, (PAT, Eason), 6:47
Laney- Jamius Beckett, 5 yard, run, (PAT, Hoffman), 1:02