Holley rallies to win football opener

By Mike Wertman, Sports Writer Posted 3 September 2016 at 4:50 pm
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Photos by Cheryl Wertman – Holley’s Zach Day (20) goes over the top to score the go ahead touchdown for the Hawks during this afternoon’s season opening win over visiting Nichols.

Opening the season on a high note, Holley rallied in the second half to defeat Nichols of Buffalo 18-6 this afternoon in a non league game.

Trailing 6-3 at the half, Holley combined touchdown runs by running back Zach Day and quarterback Jeremy Mallett along with several big defensive stops, including a fumble recovery by Glenn Thrower, to earn the Hawks their first season opening victory in several years.

“You can’t imagine how important this win is to us,” said Hawks Coach Wil Prince. “It’s been a while since Holley has won an opener so this is just real big for our program.”

Holley capitalized on Thrower’s fumble recovery on the first play of the second half to regain the lead for good just six snaps later on a 2 yard touchdown run by Day. An 18 yard pass completion from Mallett to Ryan Andrews highlighted the drive. Collin Papaj added the two-point conversion run to give the Hawks an 11-6 lead.

Nichols did threaten late in the fourth quarter as the Vikings recovered a Holley fumble near midfield. However, the Hawks defense unit came up big to stop the advance at the Holley 41 as Mallett defended on a fourth down pass attempt.

“Our defense came up big for us,” said Prince.

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Holley running back Collin Papaj (14) picks up yardage along the side line pursued by Nichols defender Austin Ellis-Mohr.

Holley then put a firm lock on the victory as Mallett scored on a 15 yard touchdown run with only 1:15 remaining. A big 39 yard run by Day set up the clinching tally as Andrews tacked on the extra point.

“Offensively we made some adjustments at half-time which helped us,” said Prince.

Andrews also provided the Hawks only points of the first half as he kicked a 28 yard field goal with 10 seconds to go in the first quarter for a 3-0 Holley lead.

Penalties though stymied two other Holley first half drives and a turnover halted another as Nichols grabbed a 6-3 lead at the half on a 63 yard scoring pass from quarterback Julian Freeman to Austin Ellis-Mohr midway through the second quarter.

The Holley defensive unit got fumble recoveries from Nick Smith and Passarell to stop two other Vikings first half drives. Passarell’s recovery came at the Holley 20 and Smith’s at the Hawks 43.

Holley next visits CG Finney in another non league contest next Saturday.

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Holley’s Camron Labarge (1) goes high to break up a pass intended for Austin Ellis-Mohr of Nichols. Also helping to defend for the Hawks is Michael Passarell (33).