BATTLE GROUND — Before the season, Hockinson coach Rick Steele called junior Andre Northrup the Hawks’ next big star.
On Saturday, that star shone brightly.
Northrup returned a kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown, returned an interception 28 yards for another score and led a stingy Hawks defense in a 27-3 win over Woodland.
“Andre Northrup really sparked us today with that return,” Steele said. “It kind of jumpstarted us and made us better. It took us a while, but after that it was OK.”
After Hockinson’s offense scored 56 points last week, it was the defense and special teams that contributed 17 of Hockinson’s 27 points on Saturday.
It started when the Hawks pinned Woodland deep in its own territory in the first quarter. That led to a bad snap, a safety and 2-0 lead.
Woodland countered by eating more than 11 minutes off the clock before taking a 3-2 lead on Emmanuel Cruz’s 22-yard field with 5:37 left in the second quarter.
Enter the rising star.
Cruz’s kickoff drove Northrup back to the edge of the goal line before the junior found a seam, broke free then shook past Cruz for a 99-yard kickoff return.
“The man had a leg,” Northrup said of Cruz. “He kicked it farther than I expected. I caught it at the one, and we had (the return play) Lucky called down the left side. I looked for my hole, caught and the last guy to beat, I shook him a bit and took off down the sideline. I heard the band, hyping me up even more. I just turned on the burners.”
Three minutes later, one play after Justin Philpot’s interception in the end zone ended a Hockinson drive, Northrup stepped in front of a Woodland pass and returned it 28 yards for another score, putting the Hawks’ up 17-3.
“We worked on that play all week … we’ve been working on that post over the middle,” Northup said. “Right then, the opportunity came. I took it down the sidelines and scored another one. Just giving my team energy to do what we do.”
Normally what the Hawks do is move the ball and score points on offense. But that not coming easily against the Beavers. After piling up more than 400 yards of offense last week against R.A. Long, the Hawks could only manage 184 against Woodland.
“We expected (offensive struggles) last week, and we played fantastic,” Steele said. “This week was what we thought we’d have last week. Some hiccups, some bumps in the road. A lot of that is Woodland. Woodland always plays us tough.”
But not as tough as the Hawks’ defense played against the Beavers.
Hockinson held Woodland to just 23 net yards offense, corralling quarterback JJ Fuerst to 25 hard-earned yards on 20 carries.
“We knew this team was a powerhouse at running, so we worked on defense all week long,” said Northrup, who also led the Hawks with five catches for 45 yards. “We expected offense. But when our offense didn’t work, our defense stepped up.”
The Hawks (2-0) also recovered two Woodland fumbles and had an interception by Adam Nute.
HOCKINSON 27, WOODLAND 3
Woodland 0 3 0 0—3
Hockinson 2 18 7 0-27
H – Safety, Mark Morales recovers fumble in end zone
W—Emmanuel Cruz 22 FG
H—Andre Northup 99 kickoff return (Daniel Thompson pass from Jarod Oldham)
H—Northrup 28 interception return (John Charles kick)
H—Abel Beck 33 FG
H—Daniel Thompson 3 run (Charles kick)
RUSHING – Woodland: JJ Fuerst 20-25, Daymon Gressett 5-11, Matthew Yager 2-6, Skyler Pelton 1-2, team 2-(-21). Hockinson: Thompson 8-39, Cody Wheeler 5-31, Makaio Juarez 2-9, Kenyon Johnson 1-4, Enzo Oliverio 1-4, Oldham 4-(-20), team 1-(-1).
PASSING – Woodland: Fuerst 0-5-2-0. Hockinson: Oldham 13-26-2-118.
RECEIVING – Woodland none. Hockinson: Northrup 4-45, Johnson 4-26, Juarez 1-9, Jake Talarico 1-1, Thompson 1-25, Jason Kerr 1-12.