VANCLEAVE — The last time Hancock High started a football season at 5-0 not a single player and perhaps a few assistant coaches were alive at the time.
Hawks head coach Neil Lollar is certainly happy they are today though.
Hancock headed to Jackson County Friday night and trounced home-standing Vancleave 35-14 to move to 5-0 for the first time in 23 years, since the 2000 campaign. The Bulldogs fell to 1-4 overall and suffered their fourth straight loss in the process.
“It was absolutely another good win for us, and yet another tough road task overcome as well,” Lollar, in his seventh season at the helm of the Hawks said. “I’m very proud of the kids, this is something that hasn’t been done in almost a quarter of a century so they know what’s happening. But we’ve got a veteran team with a lot of starts under their belts, and they’re balancing the success really well.”
Hancock wasted no time jumping out to a quick lead in its latest outing, as the Hawks were ahead 14-0 less than four minutes into the game.
On Vancleave’s first possession of the game, Hancock defender Tyran Ramsey picked off a Bulldog pass and returned it 11 yards for a pick six.
It would be an advantage the Hawks would never relinquish.
Mainly because the seven-point lead didn’t last very long. Vancleave’s next possession ended on a short punt, and the Hawks set up shop at the VHS 26. On the next play, Hawks senior signal-caller Dylan Moran found receiver Kaleb Schafer all alone in the opposing end zone for a 14-0 lead.
The Bulldogs cut the deficit in half early in the second stanza when quarterback Hunter Parker kept on a 1-yard sneak to make it 14-7.
But the Hawks responded just before halftime, as fullback Jeffery Hopgood scored on a 1-yard plunge to make the count 21-7 at intermission.
The teams swapped scores in the third frame, as Hancock got the quarter off and running on a 1-yard touchdown jaunt by senior tailback Zach Gullang. The scoring play was set up by a 36-yard pass from Moran to Neil Acker.
Vancleave standout Derik Forehand scored the last Bulldog touchdown of the night on a two-yard run with a little over two minutes to play in the period to make it 28-14.
Hancock nailed the door shut in the final frame when Hopgood added his second short scoring run of the night, this one also from 1-yard out, with just under six minutes to play.
That scoring play was also set up by a Moran-to-Acker connection, this one covered 33 yards and put the ball at the VHS three.
“It was another tough road test for us,” Lollar, whose team thumped home-standing Petal 46-7 last week, concluded. “We did what we had to do to come away with another win.”