When the game gummed up, you could see Hammond trying to get back into its preferred rhythm.
The high-powered, high-tempo Skyhawks watched a 17-point lead dissipate to just three as visiting Porter-Gaud ran 22 of the first 25 plays after halftime. Then Hammond got back to doing what it does best, and ripped off three touchdowns in rapid succession to pull away for a 45-28 victory.
Skyhawks coach Erik Kimrey said he was proud of his team’s patience, enduring the third-quarter lull. Hammond (4-0) is now riding a 17-game winning streak, while the Cyclones (3-2) lost their first SCISA game after a one-point loss to Bishop England a week earlier.
Skyhawks quarterback Graham Smith led an eight-play, 61-yard drive to push the Skyhawk lead back to 10 early in the fourth quarter. Smith had 58 of the yards (46 rushing, 12 rushing) and Cle Pennington capped the drive with a 3-yard scoring plunge.
Graham Smith: The Hammond field general went 19-for-27 through the air for 211 yards and added 62 more on the ground. He ran for two scores and passed for two more.
Oliver Michaud: Though his team played catch-up most of the night, forcing him to drop back in excess of 45 times, the Porter-Gaud quarterback ran or threw for all four of his team’s scores. He finished with 297 yards (272 passing, 25 rushing), accounting for 86 percent of his team’s output, though he did throw a costly interception in the first half.
Speed game: The only times Hammond looked vulnerable was when Porter-Gaud could mount long drives and display a semblance of ball-control. But when the Cyclones went three-and-out, it meant a defense facing an onslaught of quick plays.
Boots on the ground: Both teams showed particularly solid kicking games. Every extra points was basically right down the middle, and the lone field goal, from Hammond’s Sean Hutchison, was straight on-line.
THEY SAID IT
“We were kind of slow coming out of the gate in the second half. We have confidence in our players and confidence in our coaches, so we felt we could get it in the end zone” – Graham Smith, Hammond QB
“We’re a young team. We’re all juniors on offense and a couple seniors on defense. So it’s kind of growing pains from there. … That’s a great team.” – Rick Reetz, Porter-Gaud coach
Ground game: Hammond held back the Cyclone rushing attack, yielding 73 yards on 25 carries. Some big late gains boosted the Skyhawk average to 6.1 per carry, netting nearly 200 yards on the ground.
Efficiency counts: Porter-Gaud ran more plays than host Hammond (69-57), but the Skyhawk defense held up for the most part. Though the hosts yielded 13 first downs, they gave up a more palatable five yards per play.
HOW THEY SCORED
H – Smith 4 run (Hutchison kick) 7:59
H – Hutchison 24 kick 1:07
H – Smith 3 run (Hutchison kick) 10:32
P – Naumoff 23 pass from Michaud (C. Smith kick) 1:37
H – Borden 3 pass from Smith (Hutchison kick) 0:27.6
P –Michaud 1 run (C. Smith kick) 6:18
P – Michaud 1 run (C. Smith kick) 2:41
H – Pennington 3 run (Hutchison kick) 11:40
H – L. Prickett 7 pass from Smith (Hutchison kick) 5:50
H – Pennington 4 run (Hutchison kick) 3:12
P – Naumoff 26 pass from Michaud (Amin kick) 0:12.8
Rushing: PG: Michaud 12-25, Cochrane 7-34, Heyward 4-15, Jackson 1-1, Smith 1-(-2); H: Bennett 10-69, Smith 11-62, Pennington 9-53, Theodore 1-18, TEAM 1-(-6).
Passing: PG: Michaud 22-44-1-272; Smith 19-27-0-211.
Receiving: PG: Jackson 7-57, Maddux 6-49, Naumoff 5-91, Nelson 2-74, Smith 2-1; H: L. Prickett 7-85, Theodore 6-52, Borden 3-49, Lewis 3-25.