SEFFNER — Not all the way there.
A simple message to Armwood’s players from head coach Sean Callahan after the Hawks held off Durant, sealing a 37-14 win with strong second-half defense.
“We’ve got ways to go, I’m just saying,” Callahan said. “We have concerns about some areas, but we’ll figure it out.”
Hawks quarterback Noah Johnson started quickly on Armwood’s first drive with two first-down scrambles before connecting with Cordell Pimenta in the back corner of the end zone on a 13-yard touchdown pass.
Armwood (1-0) extended its lead on the next possession as Dedarallo Blue came up with a fumble and returned it 45 yards for the score.
Down a pair of scores, Durant’s offense started to find a rhythm and Crispian Atkins was the one beating the drum, scoring both of the Cougars’ touchdowns, the first a 48-yard run and a second-quarter 22-yard run — the senior finished with 109 yards in the game.
Johnson added his first of two rushing touchdowns in the second quarter as the Hawks took a two-score lead into halftime. For the senior quarterback, who finished with 112 yards on the ground, it was a crucial advantage against a tough opponent.
“They came out firing and we know every team is going to come out to play us like we are the top dog,” Johnson said. “We need to finish on every drive. It’s crucial — finish, finish, finish.
Both offenses trudged through a scoreless third quarter, but the pendulum swung twice as Durant looked poised to cut its deficit to one score by driving deep into Hawks territory and converting a fourth-down pass to move inside the 30-yard line.
However, Armwood’s defense tightened and highly touted defensive lineman Byron Cowart took control, first with a tackle in the backfield and then a big stop from behind in the open field on another fourth-down play.
“Byron finally played like Byron’s supposed to play, but it didn’t happen until the third quarter,” Callahan said. “We are hard on Byron, ranked as high as he is and what people expect from him. He showed it tonight in the second half.”
Jordan Griffin ended the next Durant drive by scooping up a fumble and giving the Hawks solid field position. The play gave the Hawks the boost needed to put the game away. Johnson added an 11-yard scoring run and Armwood got two more points on a bad snap on a punt resulting in a safety.
Durant 7 7 0 0 — 14
Armwood 14 14 0 9 — 37
A – Pimenta 13 pass from Johnson (Hofrichter kick)
A – Blue 45 fumble return (Hofrichter kick)
D – Atkins 48 run (Wells kick)
A – Johnson 6 run (Hofrichter kick)
D – Atkins 22 run (Wells kick)
A – Erin Collins 1 run (Hofrichter kick)
A – Johnson 11 run (Hofrichter kick)
A - Safety