BLOUNT COUNTY — Frustrated by two close losses where the kicking game proved critical, Hardin Valley Academy made sure Heritage wouldn’t be within kicking distance in the fourth quarter.
A balance of run and pass — three touchdowns on the ground and three more through the air — fueled a 44-26 Hawks victory, its first of the season, at HHS Friday evening, Sept. 1.
“We executed on offense, that was the biggest thing,” HVA head coach Wes Jones said. “We didn’t beat ourselves up in crucial situations, and we made some big plays on offense. That was probably the first time this year we’ve really made some big plays.
“We had a lot of guys do things on offense,” Jones added. “Aaron Dykes had a great first half, he went out and rushed for 117 yards.”
But the senior star running back/defensive back “suffered with some cramp issues and we had to take him out of the game,” Jones said.
However, “Lock Hardin came in and scored three touchdowns in the second half. He really stepped up and made some big plays,” Jones said about the 195-pound junior.
As for the Hawks’ air attack, “Grayson Vaughn, our quarterback, he threw for around 200 yards and three touchdowns,” Jones said about the junior.
Luke DeFur, junior receiver, hauled in two of Vaughn’s TD tosses “and had just under a hundred yards receiving,” Jones said.
Another junior receiver, Noah Moro, had one scoring reception.
“And I felt like our offensive line had a fantastic night. … Opened holes all night long,” Jones said.
Defensively, “Braylin Jackson had a big night. He had a big night [the previous week versus West]. He was just a force [against HHS] rushing the passer and making plays,” Jones said about the 6-foot, 215-pound senior defensive lineman.
With 30 percent of the regular season in the books, Jones assessed his team.
“In the first couple of ballgames we’ve just struggled with penalties, turnovers and things of that nature,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of young kids on the field. We had, basically, about three seniors out there playing on offense.
“We’ve got a lot of talent, and the kids are playing hard. We’re real close in a lot of ballgames,” he added.
“But we’ve got to grow up a lot.”
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