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Warhill hits big plays in 35-8 win over York

Contact Reporterkyanchulis@dailypress.com

Home run plays lifted the Warhill High football team to a 35-8 victory over York at Wanner Stadium on Thursday night.

Of the Lions’ five touchdowns, four came on plays of 32 yards or more. They averaged 38.6 yards per scoring play, even factoring in the shortest touchdown, a 1-yard run by senior running back Rodney Hudson on the Lions’ opening drive.

Based on that first drive, Warhill (5-3, 4-3 Bay Rivers District) seemed poised for a night of methodical, move-the-chains football.

The Lions recorded five first downs during the seven-minute, 76-yard march to the end zone. They ran 13 times in 14 plays, though the longest gain (17 yards) came on the one passing play from senior quarterback Jamin Hazelaar to junior tight end Tristan Welch.

Hudson capped the drive with the 1-yard touchdown to give his team a 7-0 lead on York (5-3, 4-3).

However, Warhill did not have more than two first downs on any subsequent possession.

The offense lost its early rhythm, and the Lions were forced to punt four times and tossed one interception.

The problem could be traced in part to the loss of leading rusher Hudson, who entered Thursday night with 516 yards and eight touchdowns.

Hudson was injured on the final York possession of the half. The senior linebacker came in for a tackle but got blocked by a York player and had to be helped off the field.

Nonetheless, Warhill still built a formidable lead with a handful of big running plays.

Warhill sophomore running back Blake Branch scored on rushes of 53 and 44 yards.

The first came in the second quarter. He exploded up the middle for 22 yards on the first play of the Lions’ second possession, then received the ball again on the next play and pushed past York defenders for a 53-yard touchdown.

“I just kind of ran and hoped I wouldn’t get caught,” Branch said.

His second 44-yard score polished off another two-play drive.

“He’s a hard runner, and that’s what we knew we’d get from him,” Warhill coach Thad Wheeler said. “He hit the hole hard, he broke a few tackles and he got out in the open.”

Warhill junior running back Noah Holmes also scored two long touchdowns. His first came on a 63-yard run in the third quarter, and his second, a 32-yarder, finished the Lions’ scoring late in the fourth quarter.

While the Lions gave up one big-yardage play themselves, an 82-yard catch-and-run by York senior wide receiver Adam Lytle in the third quarter, the Falcons otherwise found themselves stymied by the Warhill defense.

Yanchulis can be reached by phone at 757-298-5176. Follow her on Twitter @KYanchulis.

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