Oct. 17, 2009
Rome, Ga. - Four turnovers, a pair of missed extra points, two failed conversions and 100 yards in penalties - considering the circumstances, Shorter College head coach Phil Jones will take the final result.
The Hawks survived some offensive miscues and got some strong play from the defense and special teams on their way to a 45-10 rout of visiting Kentucky Christian University on Saturday afternoon in front of a Homecoming crowd at Barron Stadium.
"We got a win behind us," said Jones. "As a coach, you want your team to play as hard as they can and with as much emotion as they can. Early on we didn't do that, but last week drained a lot of emotion out of us. It wasn't our best performance, but it was exciting to get a win."
Shorter finished with 461 yards of total offense, but appeared a bit sluggish at times in the first half in its tilt with the Knights, perhaps still recovering from a last-second loss at seventh-ranked Lambuth one week ago.
Fortunately for the Hawks, their defense and much-heralded special teams was there to provide Shorter (4-3, 2-1 Mid-South West) with the breathing room it needed.
After Kentucky Christian (0-7, 0-3 Mid-South West) closed to within 12-10 on a Jake Hughes two-yard run with just over four minutes remaining in the first half, A.J. Cooley returned the ensuing kickoff 78 yards for a touchdown and Rome product Josh Hines put the Hawks up 25-10 at the break with a 67-yard interception return for a score with 40 seconds remaining in the frame.
"First I bobbled it and I was scared to death," said Hines of his game-changing pick-six. "Once I had it, the blocks did it for me. I looked up and the whole line was over there so I figured I would get as much as I could. Logan [Lollis] had a good block and a few other guys had good blocks and they just did it for me.
"I was excited. I just love playing with this team."
Cooley's return TD was his second in as many weeks and took the wind out of the Knights' upset bid. The senior from Bowden, Ga. took the opening kickoff at Lambuth last week all the way back for a 90-yard score.
"The guys up front are doing a great job of blocking and it makes my job easy," said Cooley, who offensively finished with a game-high 119 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries. "All I have to do is run and they take care of the rest."
Kentucky Christian never threatened in the second half.
The Knights drove into Shorter territory to open the third quarter, but missed a 49-yard field goal, and its final six drives of the game ended in five punts - one that was blocked by the Hawks' Albert Huntley - and a fumble.
Shorter held Kentucky Christian to 241 total yards - just 80 in the second half - and forced four Knights' turnovers for the contest.
While they did not sustain any long drives against the Knights' defense, the Hawks again utilized the big play to their advantage.
Antwon Appleton scored from 31 yards out and Cooley broke loose for a 60-yard TD to give Shorter a 12-3 lead - Shorter missed a PAT and failed to convert on a two-point conversion - after the first quarter.
Williams added a 27-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter and Huntley scampered in from 14 yards out just three plays after he blocked the punt to conclude Shorter's scoring.
When the Hawks scored offensively, their punch was lightening fast; Shorter's five offensive scoring drives took a total of 12 plays while covering 214 yards.
The Hawks churned up 398 yards on the ground as Appleton finished with 98 yards and a score and Williams with 96 yards rushing and a TD on eight totes.
Logan Lollis paced the Shorter defense with a game-high 12 tackles and freshman safety Spencer Bragg snared a pair of interceptions on back-to-back Kentucky Christian possessions in the second quarter while also posting six stops.
The Hawks hit the road next Saturday, Oct. 24 when they travel to Kentucky to take on Union College. Kickoff is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. ET.