Holly Springs shut down Sanderson behind a strong running game in a 17-7 win on the road.
On Sanderson’s second possession of the game, the Golden Hawks special teams blocked a Spartan punt. Holly Springs recovered on the Sanderson 23-yard line, and five plays later took a 7-0 lead Nehemiah Harris scored from 3 yards out.
Running backs Harris and Tray Staten each scored in the game, and Josh Howard booted a 29-yard field goal to provide all the scoring Holly Springs needed.
In the second quarter, Holly Springs quarterback Justin Armwood was injured. Converted receiver Bijan Emami took the snaps the rest of the way, as Emami threw for 11 yards on 1 of 4 passing.
“[Armwood] got hit, and just looking at him on the sideline he didn’t look right,” said Holly Springs coach Wayne Bragg. “The trainer cleared him, but I didn’t want to take a chance.
“We had the option game working, but Bijan just hadn’t been working on it. There’s a lot of coordination and practice learning the option, and Bijan is one of our wide receivers as well so he spends more time with that than quarterbacking.
The Holly Springs offense didn’t miss a beat. Following the injury, the Golden Hawks outscored the Spartans 10-0 the rest of the way. Harris ran for 155 yards and Staten finished with 128.
With about nine minutes left in the first half, Sanderson received great field position thanks to an interception by James Morales. After a 15-yard run by Jeremiah Bellissimo and a late hit on the play, Leonel Katuku rushed for a 12-yard score, tying the game at seven apiece.
But the Sanderson offense stalled. Of its final seven possessions, four ended in punts, there was a fumble on special teams and a turnover on downs.
“[The defense] played great. They played outstanding,” Bragg said. “If you think about it, the one time they scored we turned the ball over. We hit the kid out of bounds, which added 15 yards to that. Not only did we give them the ball with a short field, we had the penalty. We came back and played outstanding, lights out.”
The Golden Hawks defense held the Spartans in check, only allowing 108 yards of offense, while the Holly Springs offense totaled 333 yards.