By Nick DukeSeptember 4, 2013
FORT BENNING, Ga. (Sept. 4, 2013) -- Hardaway got its 2013 season off to an explosive start Friday, as the Hawks used a dominant rushing attack and opportunistic defense to blow away Jordan 51-18.
Hardaway was led by star running back Justin Crawford, a junior who finished with 162 yards rushing and three touchdowns on runs of 41, 2 and 59 yards.
"He's explosive," Hardaway head coach Jeff Battles said after the game. "He loves running inside, so we try to force him to run outside as much as we can because he's naturally gifted at it."
The Hawks' defense was able to force six Jordan turnovers, giving the Hardaway offense good field position throughout the game.
The Hardaway defense even got in on the scoring action itself, as senior Torrie Beard returned a Jordan fumble 27 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter.
"It's something that we worked on constantly in camp -- turnovers, turnovers, turnovers," Battles said. "The defensive staff has pushed those guys and preached about turnovers, so it was nice to see a turnaround on that."
Hardaway led 20-0 at the end of the first quarter behind a 29-yard scoring toss from Blake Berry to Christian Matthew, as well as Crawford's 41-yard run and Beard's fumble return.
The Hawks eventually built a 34-0 lead in the second quarter, as Crawford scored from two yards out and sophomore Darius Blackmon had a 21-yard touchdown run.
Berry, a junior, only threw two passes in the first half as the Hawks held a 34-6 halftime lead.
In the second half, however, Berry was given the opportunity to throw the ball a bit more, completing five of his seven second-half attempts for 43 yards.
"Our focus ... was to see if we could roll out and throw accurately," Battles said. "We did pretty good throwing the ball, but it's something that he's going to have to grow into.
"He's a second-year starter, so he understands the game now. I'm focusing on his accuracy and showing him that you don't always have to go deep. Short passes can move the ball down the field."
Berry finished with 86 yards and a touchdown on 7-of-9 passing. Matthew led Hardaway in receiving, finishing with two catches for 43 yards and a touchdown.
Hardaway's 17 second-half points came on Crawford's 59-yard run, a 46-yard field goal by Hector Zamudio and an 85-yard kickoff return by Kameron McFolley.
Despite forcing six turnovers and allowing less than 240 yards of total offense, Hardaway's defense did surrender a few long passes, giving up touchdown passes of 34, 39 and 14 yards. Jordan quarterback William Harris finished 11-of-23 with three touchdowns, two interceptions and 152 yards passing.
After the game, Battles said the pass defense would be an area of focus as the Hawks prepare for their second game against crosstown rival Columbus this Friday at Kinnett Stadium.
"Rivalry games are tough because everyone's always pumped up." Battles said. "Columbus always plays us tough and gives us a good game, so it's going to be exciting to come out here next week in front of a big crowd."
Kickoff for Hardaway and Columbus is set for 7:30 p.m. Friday.