HURRICANE — Hurricane’s football team played as if it wanted to win. Huntington played as if it wanted to be somewhere else.
The Redskins (3-4) defeated the Highlanders 24-7 on Friday night, delighting the majority of a large homecoming crowd.
Hurricane, 17th in Class AAA in the West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission playoff ratings, desperately needed a victory to keep its postseason hopes alive. The top 16 at the end of the regular season qualify.
“We had to have it,” Redskins coach Jeremy Taylor said. “We had to have it. Now, we have to go up to Parkersburg next week and win. We’ve never won there and only have beaten them once overall, here four years ago.”
If Hurricane plays as it did Friday, it will give itself a chance. The Redskins held the No. 7 Highlanders (3-3) to two first downs, 23 rushing yards on 17 attempts and 114 passing yards on six completions in 17 throws.
“We learned a lot from last week,” Taylor said of a one-point overtime loss to George Washington. “I knew we had to do something different. We did some different stuff.”
For the first time all season, Hurricane didn’t use a fullback. The Redskins also installed a flip pass where quarterback Austin Womack pitched the ball forward to a receiver coming across in motion. Nate Barham took one of those passes 60 yards for a touchdown 2:32 before halftime to extend Hurricane’s lead to 10-0.
“That’s the first time we’ve ever done that,” Taylor said of the play.
Womack completed 17 of 24 passes for 176 yards and one touchdown, with two interceptions, both by Noah Waynick.
Waynick also scored Huntington’s only touchdown, hauling in a 44-yard pass from Ta’ Blackwell at 9:26 of the fourth quarter to pull the Highlanders within 17-7. The sophomore receiver/defensive back was one of the few bright spots for a Huntington team that turned in a dismal performance overall. The Highlanders defense jumped offside four times, three of which gave Hurricane first downs. Huntington gave up 306 total yards and punted seven times for a 30.2-yard average.
Even when the Highlanders appeared successful, they weren’t. A pass off a fake punt by Scout Arthur went 18 yards to Chance Jackson for a first down, but was nullified because an ineligible receiver was downfield.
Still, Hurricane led just 10-0 at halftime thanks to Barham’s TD and Cole Bumgarner’s 24-yard field goal. The Redskins, though, came out of the locker room and drove 71 yards on 17 plays, using 9:06 to go ahead 17-0 on a 5-yard run by Christian Hill, who finished with 115 yards of 24 carries.
“Hill did his normal thing,” Taylor said. “Womack did a decent job and our offensive line did a good job as always. Our guys played hard. They played like they practiced.”
Taylor credited his assistants for the triumph, the Redskins’ first over the Highlanders since 2010.
“I want to give a shout-out to the entire coaching staff,” Taylor said. “They did a good job getting our kids ready to play. They don’t get enough credit. These guys put in 60 hours of work a week, watching film and practicing.”