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Hawks hold off Rebels in first playoff victory

It’s never a dull moment when the Green Hill football team is involved.
The Hawks overcome a resilient Franklin County team Friday in the first round of the playoffs, holding off the Rebels, 48-40. It was the first playoff win in school history.
Green Hill kept seeming to put the game away, but Franklin County led by quarterback Connor Seals, battled back time and time again. The Hawks led by 17 points entering the fourth quarter and needed a big stop on a two-point conversion and an onside kick returned for a touchdown by Kaleb Carver to come out with the victory.
For such a high scoring game, the game started slow. There was only one score in the first quarter. The Rebels’ NaShawn Holman got the only score of the quarter on a 4-yard run to put Franklin County up 7-0.
Green Hill would answer with a 15-play drive capped off by a Brax Lamberth 2-yard touchdown run to tie it up.
Carver would give the Hawks their next score. Green Hill was able to stop Franklin County and force them to punt. The punt was away and it bounced a time or two. It looked like Carver was going to leave to be downed by the kicking team, but he scooped it up, shook a few defenders and was off to the races. 70 yards later, Carver was in the end zone for the Hawks first lead of the game.
Carver would give Green Hill another big play on their next drive. The Hawk defense forced a three and out on Franklin County, and on the second play of the next drive, Carver would take it around the corner for a 60-yard score. Just like that, it was 21-7 with 2:42 to play in the half.
That was too much time for the Rebels, as they marched down the field and Manny Scott punched it in with five seconds remaining in the half to cut it to 21-14.
Carver gave the Hawks a good return to start the second half, and Green Hill marched the short field. Niko Duffie would be the one to get into the end zone next, as he took it to the right and dove into the end zone for a 12-yard score. It was 28-14 with 9:18 left in the third.
After Franklin County cut it to 28-21, Carver would find the end zone again. It was set up by back-to-back receptions by Sean Aldridge, the first and 11-yard gain on 3rd-and-9, and the next play Cade Mahoney found him for another 25-yard gain. Two plays later, Mahoney would hit Carver for a 24-yard score with 4:21 left in the third.
Green Hill got tricky on the kickoff, going for an onside kick right to Carver to get the ball back and steal a possession. The drive didn’t make it into the end zone, but Sam Crickmar would hit a 27-yard field goal to make it 38-21 with 1:16 left in the third quarter.
That score would hold into the fourth quarter in which the Rebels tried to make their comeback. It started with Scott’s second rushing touchdown, but Green Hill would answer with a 24-yard Crickmar field goal, making it 41-27. A 51-yard touchdown pass from Seals to Na’Zaiyah Holman cut it to 41-34 with 3:16 left in the game, and after an onside kick recovery, Eric Jones capped off a Rebel drive to make it 41-40.
Instead of going for the tie, the Rebels went for the win. Seals took the snap, looked right, but didn’t see Anthony Kilmon coming off the blind side edge to hit him in the back as the ball was coming out. The ball fell incomplete, and the Hawks held onto the lead 41-40.
Carver sealed the game for Green Hill as the onside kick went right to him, and he had no one in front of him. He outraced everyone 50 yards for his fourth touchdown of the game. Franklin County still had 1:06 to try to tie with a touchdown and two-point conversion, but Carver ended with his second interception of the game.
Carver finished the night with 248 all-purpose yards. He had 98 total rushing and receiving, one punt return for 70 yards and two kickoff returns for 80 yards. Lamberth finished the game with 116 yards on 20 carries. Mahoney was 12-for-16 for 159 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.
Green Hill (10-1) will now move onto face Columbia (7-4) in the second round of the playoffs. The Hawks beat the Lions in week 4 of the season 28-14, but Columbia is coming off a 30-10 first round victory over Mt. Juliet. That game will kick off at 7 p.m. Friday on The Hill.