Senior Night at Trojan Field didn’t turn out the way many of the seniors on the New Hope High School football team had planned.
A season of setbacks and heartbreaks caught up with New Hope on Friday night as the Center Hill earned a 23-12 victory.
Center Hill was coming off an emotional high, beating two-time Class 5A defending state champion West Point 30-29 last week and snapping the Green Wave’s 18-game winning streak in Class 5A. Against New Hope, it wanted to continue to establish itself as the new dominant force in the district, while New Hope was looking to get back on track after losing to Clarksdale 41-27 last week.
Center Hill built a 20-point lead in the first quarter lead and never truly looked back. Senior running back Richard Hampton rushed for two first-quarter touchdowns and 130 yards on only 11 attempts in the first half.
Center Hill coach Alan Peacock praised his defense for forcing three turnovers that helped set the tone.
“They really got us the lead in the first half and held onto it in the second half” he said.
Center Hill forced New Hope to abandon its run game and to rely on freshman quarterback Brady Davis, who was 20 of 45 for 190 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. But Center Hill made life difficult all night and had three sacks.
Senior Q Newby led New Hope’s defense with two sacks and a blocked extra point. The defense swarmed the Mustangs and allowed just points in the final three quarters. The Trojans forced the Mustangs into a defensive battle in the second half with their bend-but-don’t-break play, and limited Hampton to 40 yards in the second half. They also forced three turnovers in the final three quarters.
“We had too many turnovers,” New Hope coach Michael Bradley said. “We have to play more consistently and not make mistakes.”
The Trojans’ inconsistency hurt them as receivers made an outstanding catch one moment and dropped a routine pass the next.
The Trojans pulled out all the stops in an attempt to rally. They went for numerous fourth-down conversions and even recovered an onside kick to start the second half. Davis hit senior tight end Lawrence Brown for a 26-yard touchdown pass with 3 minutes, 31 seconds to play. Center Hill recovered the ensuing onside kick, but New Hope forced a three-and-out and gave the offense another try.
Center Hill harassed Davis constantly, forcing him into rushed throws or ill timed runs. New Hope had two tries in the last three minutes of the game to score, but didn’t move inside the Center Hill 40.
Peacock praised his team for an outstanding effort and for “playing the game cleanly.” He also praised his group by saying how much it meant to him that others at the stadium commented on their behavior and attitudes. Center Hill (6-4, 5-1 Class 5A, Region 1) will look to win the region next week with a victory against Hernando.
The loss severely damages New Hope’s postseason hopes. Bradley praised his seniors for “their hard work and dedication to the team.” New Hope will travel to West Point next week for its regular-season finale.
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