Seaforth (3-6, 3-4) made history for its program’s short existence in a 26-7 win over Jordan-Matthews (1-8, 1-6) Friday.
With the victory, the Hawks earned their third win, the most in a single season since Seaforth started playing varsity football last year.
“I’m the winningest coach in this program, ever,” Seaforth head coach Terrance Gary joked. “It’s progress, trying to build on what we established. Those first guys that came in the first day, we talked about just laying the bricks and building this house.”
Against the Jets Friday, laying that next layer of bricks required confidence and the poise to overcome some early mistakes, though.
After senior Dane O’Neill responded to Jordan-Matthews’ opening touchdown drive with a 90-yard house call on the kickoff return, Seaforth couldn’t immediately build on it.
The Hawks recovered an onside kick immediately after their first score, but sophomore quarterback Duffy Palmer lost a fumble plays later.
The defense put out the fire from the mistake with a three-and-out. On Seaforth’s following offensive possession, Palmer and senior running back Anthony Vecse put together some nice runs, including a quarterback keeper Palmer ran for 22 yards down to the Jets’ 8-yard line.
But, penalties became an issue for the Hawks as a block in the back negated all of that progress.
Seaforth couldn’t capitalize on its favorable field position, and the drive ended in a blocked field goal attempt after Jordan-Matthews’ Gabriel Brewer came off the edge and got his hands on the ball.
The Hawks didn’t score their first offensive touchdown until the end of the half after the run game opened up some opportunities through the air.
A 26-yard screen to Vecse down to the Jets’ 2-yard line set up Palmer’s first touchdown pass of the night to senior receiver Ace Weissenberger three plays later. That score put the Hawks up, 17-7, and gave them control of the game right before the half.
“(It was) just pretty much execution, doing what we teach them to do and having confidence in themselves,” Gary said. “We talked about having confidence all week…We tell them all the time that you’ll have people doubting you, but if you’re doubting yourself then nothing else is going to matter.”
That confidence carried over into the second half, especially for Seaforth’s defense which smothered a Jordan-Matthews offense without a key piece in sophomore Nick Glover. Glover went down with a broken collarbone in the first quarter.
After an initially successful third-quarter drive ended with junior running back Jackson Powell losing a fumble on the one-yard line, Seaforth’s defense corrected the mistake with a safety on the following possession, growing the lead to 12.
Powell made up for his miscue, too. Up 19-7, the Hawks put their final stamp on the game late in the fourth quarter after he exploded through the line of scrimmage for a 25-yard touchdown.
Powell finished the game with 50 rushing yards and one touchdown on 10 carries.
“That felt good,” Powell said. “I had the opportunity to get two more — fumbled on the one-yard line and got one called back. But that one felt good. I saw the back hole open up, and I just took it.”
Seaforth will finish its regular season at home against Bartlett Yancey Friday.
Sitting at 40th in the 2A East RPI rankings as of Monday, the Hawks will likely miss the state playoffs. However, they can finish an already historic season for the program on a high note against the Buccaneers who also sit outside of the playoff picture.
Gary said he wants his team to just “grind” during the practice week and continue the confidence shown against the Jets.
“We can’t waste any reps, any minutes (and) any seconds,” Gary said.