Junior running back Derick Nelson helped his brother Jake out, as he finished with 73 yards and a touchdown on six carries as the Troy Athens Red Hawks defeated the Pontiac Phoenix 23-12.
Jake Nelson, a senior quarterback for the Red Hawks, got injured with 2:16 to go in the third quarter. A little bit after Jake’s injury, Nelson made the big play that Troy Athens was looking for to seal the deal.
On a second-down-and-2, Nelson scampered down the field past a couple of defenders and in for a 31-yard touchdown which would put the Red Hawks up 23-6 with 5:31 left in the fourth quarter. Pontiac would score at the 3:44 mark on a 1-yard touchdown run by junior Jamar Antwine, but could not recover the following onside kick attempt.
Red Hawks coach Josh Heppner, who’s team finished with 195 rushing yards, was happy for Nelson and his performance.
“He ran for his brother tonight,” said Heppener. “His brother, Jake, is our senior leader and one of our top athletes, and when he got hurt I know that he (Derick) felt bad because it’s his brother’s senior year and he wants to play hard for him. So he ran his heart out and did great things for us.”
Early on, the scoring seemed like it was going to arrive in bunches. On the opening drive, Pontiac fumbled and Troy Athens recovered on Pontiac’s 18-yard line. However, the Red Hawks only got three points out of the early opportunity.
On the ensuing kickoff, the Phoenix would take it down all the way to the Red Hawks’ 21-yard line. At the 6:35 mark in the first, Antwine would punch it in to make it 6-3.
After the early scores, turnovers and defense was the story.
Troy Athens recovered another fumble with 38 seconds to go in the half.
The Red Hawks would end the night with four forced fumbles and six forced turnovers.
“I thought they (the defense) did a good job,” said Heppner. “I think we still need to wrap up and tackle, plenty of times we had guys in the backfield, we gotta wrap up and finish.”
Following the turnover, senior Lucas Bezerra had a 19-yard reverse with six seconds to go in the first half, to set up Jake Nelson scoring from seven yards out to make the lead 10-6 going into the break.
In the second half, the two teams would battle back and forth until Troy Athens defense forced another fumble and recovered at their own 39-yard line.
The Red Hawks would then put together a 12 play 61-yard drive, which would end with a 1-yard touchdown run from junior Devin Taylor to make it 16-6.
With the win, Troy Athens moves to 1-2 on the young season, and coach Heppner still feels there is room for improvement.
“We just gotta execute,” said Heppner. “I mean we are our own worst enemy, we have to execute.”
While Pontiac falls to 0-3, head coach Daimion Redmond has not given up hope for his team to make the playoffs just yet.
“It’s not over,” said Redmond. “We can go on a run but we gotta continue to get better and continue to make sure we our doing the little things and paying attention to the details.”