Editor's note: Game statistics corrected and updated from Friday night's post
HOCKINSON — Hockinson’s running game gave the Hawks the lead, and a huge defensive play made it stand, giving the Hawks the season-opening victory over the La Center Wildcats.
The Hawks stuck mostly with their running game, and then got a 48-yard fumble return for a touchdown in the final minute of the game for a 43-34 victory. Jacob Reagan’s recovery and return stopped La Center’s comeback bid.
Josiah Niemela led the Hockinson ground attack, rushing 19 times for 125 yards.
“(Niemela) has been one of our leaders in the weight room,” Hockinson head coach Rick Steele said. “Tonight, he just wasn’t going to be stopped.”
The Hawks led 29-28 going into the fourth quarter, then made it an eight-point advantage on an 18-yard TD run from Niemela.
La Center wasn’t done, though. Patrick Moyolo scored from 45 yards out, but the two-point try failed, keeping Hockinson in the lead.
The Wildcats had the ball and were driving when Reagan made his big play.
The two teams combined for five touchdowns in the second quarter, and the game was tied at 22 at the half.
Tory Dunn’s second touchdown of the game gave Hockinson a 29-22 lead. Mike Polyakov got the TD back for La Center, but the point-after failed.
Dunn credited his team’s endurance with keeping the Hawks in the game.
“We were the more conditioned team tonight,” Dunn said. “We ran down their throats and kept running at them.”
“We got that first win,” Steele said. “That’s huge for us. Now the kids feel good about themselves, they’ve got that confidence.”
Next week: La Center (0-1) vs. Rochester; Hockinson (1-0) vs. Prairie (0-1).
La Center 0 22 0 12—34
Hockinson 8 14 7 14—43
Hock — Jacob Doney 3 run (Barclay run)
LC — Austin Heldt 35 pass from Jake Johnson (not available)
Hock — Dunn 8 run (Barclay run)
LC — Patrick Mayolo 25 pass from Johnson (Gunnar Lowery run)
Hock — Barclay 70 kickoff return (run failed)
LC — Johnson 3 run (Johnson run)
Hock — Dunn 3 run (Everett Klodt kick)
LC — Mike Polyakov 2 run (run failed)
Hock — Niemela 18 run (Klodt kick)
LC — Mayolo 45 run (run failed)
Hock — Jacob Reagan 48 fumble recovery (Klodt kick)
Rushing — La Center — Mayolo 16-120, Lowery 15-62. Hockinson — Niemela 25-135, Barclay 1-1, Dunn 8-33.
Passing — La Center — Johnson 13-23-1-179; Hockinson — Krahn 4-12-1-53.
Receiving — La Center Polyakov 6-67, Mayolo 3-52, Dylan King 2-24, Heldt 1-24, Matt Braaten 1-12; Hockinson — Jesse Tonkinson 1-19, Cole Kirkpatrick 1-19, Zac McElveny 1-10-, John Lunceford 1-15.