The Bearcats’ opening drive stalled just inside the 50, when lanky 9th-grader Timothy Hawkins tossed a deep ball off a flea-flicker into tight coverage along the right sideline. Senior P.J. Montgomery came down with it and scored from 43 yards out.
“I was kind of nervous, it’s such a big game,” Hawkins said afterward, over the hum of school buses and his celebrating teammates. “I seen him behind the defender… it’s exciting.”
Saks responded with a five-minute scoring drive to make it 7-6, and then held Weaver to another third-and-long at midfield.
But Hawkins connected with fellow freshman, Christopher English, who caught the swing pass and out raced the Wildcat defense 51 yards to make it 14-6.
English finished the game with four catches for 78 yards and a touchdown.
Hawkins went 6-for-7 for 184 yards and two touchdowns.
“(Hawkins is) a great athlete, got a great future, so does No. 5,” said Weaver head coach Daryl Hamby. “I trust them.”
Weaver opened second quarter scoring with a drive keyed by a 19-yard pass from Hawkins to sophomore Brandell Massey.
Senior running back Quinnata ‘Toot’ Jones ran in from 30 yards out to give the Bearcats a 21-6 lead.
Jones was the game’s leading rusher, with 27 carries for 149 yards and a touchdown.
After trading three-and-outs, Saks rode the back of its leading rusher, senior Brandon Johnson, to bring the game within reach.
He rushed for 33 yards in the nearly four-minute drive, setting up a Cordarius Cooper touchdown on a quarterback sneak to make it 21-13 just before halftime.
The Wildcats came out in the second half and dominated the clock, controlling the ball for over 14 minutes. But Saks battled against bad field position.
“When you get two teams that run the ball… it goes by quickly,” Saks coach Clint Smith said. “You have to take advantage of your opportunities.”
A Bearcat fumble late in the fourth quarter gave Saks the ball, and hope, near midfield. Johnson took a toss around the right end 18 yards to start the drive.
Two runs stuffed at the line brought up 3rd-and-11.
A scoreboard malfunction froze the clock at 3:05 as Johnson carried for 4 yards to set up a long 4th down.
Cooper hit receiver Lavonte Thomas for 11 yards to convert, giving the Wildcats a first down at the Weaver 27.
With the referees keeping the coaches alert to the time left, Saks drove down to the 18-yard line.
With 33 seconds left, Cooper looked for junior Justin Grier but found Bearcat sophomore Massey, who picked it off at the 12-yard line.
“I was trying to rush the QB but I saw No. 17, so I jumped in front and got the ball,” Massey said. “Coach told us to play our hardest… we sold out.”
Cooper finished 6-for-7 with 61 yards, one interception and 18 yards on six carries and a score.
“That’s probably the biggest win we’ve had,” Coach Hamby said. “It’s coming together.”