High School Football

Malik Bennett paces Hammond in win over Ben Lippen

Hammond’s Malik Bennett
Hammond’s Malik Bennett gmelendez@thestate.com

For one game at least, Hammond senior Malik Bennett filled the shoes of all-time Skyhawks great T.J. Brady on Friday at Edens Stadium against Ben Lippen.

Bennett, who contributed to last season’s undefeated SCISA championship team as a starting wide receiver and backup running back, did a good Brady impression in the season opener – running for 187 yards and three touchdowns in a 34-9 win

It was Hammond’s 14th consecutive season-opening win. Ben Lippen dropped to 1-1.

TURNING POINT

It didn’t take long for Bennett and the Skyhawks to respond after Ben Lippen pulled within 13-9 on a 73-yard touchdown pass from Patrick McClure to Matthew Rew at 1:57 of the third quarter. Twenty seconds later, on Hammond’s first play of the ensuing possession, Bennett exploded over the left side for a 70-yard TD that doomed the Falcons.

KEY PERFORMERS

Malik Bennett: Hammond RB ran for 187 yards and three TDs, caught four passes for 78 yards and also ripped off a 41-yard kickoff return.

Graham Smith: The senior QB had an impressive Hammond debut, completing 13 of 18 passes for 256 yards. The only blemish was an interception inside the Ben Lippen 10-yard line.

Patrick McClure: Ben Lippen QB ran for a team-high 59 yards and passed for 221 yards and one touchdown. He also kicked a field goal and handled the Falcons’ punting chores.

Mark Rew: The senior wide receiver returned to Ben Lippen after one season at Cardinal Newman, and caught five passes for 157 yards.

OBSERVATIONS

Big leg: Hammond’s Sean Hutchison boomed two field goals and three touchbacks on his four deep kickoffs. The other was hauled in at the 1-yard line.

Rebuilding?: Hammond returns just four starters on both offense and defense, but Kimrey’s latest edition does not look like a team in transition. However, it’s still early as coach Kimrey warned his troops after the game.

Impressive resume: Kimrey, who became the fastest coach to reach 100 career wins (in 110 games) in South Carolina history in 2012, stands at 127-15 with seven SCIA titles in his 12 seasons as the Skyhawks boss.

THEY SAID IT

“There were a lot of fresh faces out there tonight, but I felt like the team was very composed, even through all the mistake in the first half. They never panicked and let the game come to them. We cleaned it up in the second half and that was the difference.” – Kimrey.

“(Bennett’s 70-yard scoring run) was the most critical play of the game. Malik split the two safeties and turned a 12-yard play into a momentun-turning touchdown.” – Kimrey on Malik Bennett’s 70-yard scoring run.

“It’s not really about being better than the last person. It’s all about trying to continue the run of good running backs here at Hammond.” – Malik Bennett.

“We were whipped up front. We have a lot of linemen playing both ways and we worn down as the game went on.” – Ben Lippen coach Derek White.

KEY NUMBERS

14: Hammond’s current winning streak.

516: Hammond’s total offense on opening night, perfectly balanced – 260 yards by land, 256 by air.

9: Consecutive seasons Hammond has played in the SCISA Class 3A championship game.

60: The gain on sophomore Cle Pennington’s first varsity run from scrimmage.

19-4: Hammond’s series lead since the first meeting of the teams in 1995.

HOW THEY SCORED

1st Quarter

H – FG Sean Hutchison 40, 7:10

2nd Quarter

BL – FG Patrick McClure 35, 10:21

H – Malik Bennett 5 run (Hutchison kick), 9:18

3rd Quarter

H – FG Sean Hutchison 25, 9:39

BL – Mark Rew 73 pass from McClure (kick failed), 1:57

H – Bennett 70 run (Hutchison kick), 1:37

4th Quarter

H – Bennett 3 run (Hutchison kick), 7:37

H – Cle Pennington 3 run (Hutchison kick), 4:00

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

Rushing: BL: McClure 16-59, Owens 10-19. H: Bennett 19-187, Pennington 6-76.

Passing: BL: McClure 13-27-0-221. H: Smith 11-15-1-256.

Receiving: BL: Rew 5-159, Owens 5-28, Fleming 2-22, Moore 1-14. H: Theodore 4-60, Bennett 4-78, L. Prickett 3-62, Lewis 2-56.

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