It was Homecoming night at Patrick Henry and seniors Hunter Hart and Terrance Oxendine put on a little show before the halftime festivities.
And as a result, the Patriots broke to a 14-0 lead and held off visiting Hanover 28-20 in a game played in a cool mist throughout.
On the second play of the game, Hart broke free around the left side behind terrific blocking that formed a wall downfield and the two-sport athlete rolled to a 54-yard touchdown.
Kicker Rian Pecci-Young, a junior who was on the homecoming court, nailed the point-after-attempt to give the home team a 7-0 lead with 11:01 left in the first quarter.
Two possessions later in the second quarter, Oxendine scrambled behind the line of scrimmage before reversing field and picking up one good block after another. The result was an 80-yard touchdown run and then Pecci-Young increased the lead to 14-0 by intermission with the PAT.
After the break, Hanover found success running the ball and gained some momentum. Following a long drive, and 1:29 left in the third quarter, freshman running back Eric Rankin scored from three-yards out to cut the deficit to 14-6.
Rankin, a 6-3, 200-pounder, toted the ball 26 times for a team-high 133 yards.
The Hawks found more good fortune on the Patriots next possession. When the home team was forced to punt Hanover senior Parker Chenault, who plans to walk-on at Virginia, blocked the punt from Gavin Roland and scooped it up and took it in 25 yards for the team’s second score and less than three minutes.
More importantly for the visitors, the Hawks pulled to within two points at 14-12.
But the quarterback duo of Hart and sophomore Alex Sikkar went to work and poured on two more touchdowns – a 15-yard run by Hart and then a 3-yard run for Sikkar that gave the Patriot a 28-12 lead with 3:53 left to play.
Hart, who has committed to play baseball at William and Mary, led all rushers with 159 yards on 15 carries while Oxendine ended with 89 yards on five carries.
However, Hanover would not go away, and junior quarterback Tyler Elrod, a 5-8, 175-pounder, marched his troops down the field.
With 35.4 seconds left in the game, the nimble Elrod leaped for the end zone and was spun around like a helicopter propeller before landing across the goal line for the score. Rankin would add the two-point conversion for which would be the final margin at 28-20.
With the win, Patrick Henry improved to 4-3 while Hanover fell to 1-6. The Patriots travel to Armstrong on Friday and the Hawks are back home against Varina.