By Justin Jarrett | LowcoSports@gmail.com
SEABROOK — One point or 100 points, just get the ‘W.’
That was Whale Branch coach Jerry Hatcher’s message to his team after the Warriors survived a night when they were far from their best but still managed to hold on for a 21-16 win over visiting North Charleston on Friday.
Irvin Mulligan and C.J. Brown each went over 100 yards rushing, and Kyshon Hipp and Jaheem Hazel each had two interceptions to help the Warriors remain in command of the Region 6-2A title race.
“It was a rough one, but we came out with the ‘W’ somehow, some way,” Brown said. “We’ve got to cut down on the turnovers. We turned the ball over twice inside the 5-yard line. That’s easy points. We could’ve put this game away a long time ago.”
The Warriors actually fumbled three times inside the 5, but offensive lineman Jahiem Fripp recovered one in the end zone for a touchdown that pulled Whale Branch within 8-7 with 16 seconds left in the first quarter.
That was the halftime score before Mulligan, who was limited to eight yards in the first half, popped a 75-yard touchdown run on the first play from scrimmage in the second half to give the Warriors a 14-8 lead.
Hipp’s second interception of the game came with two minutes left in the third quarter, when he jumped a middle screen and walked into the end zone from 2 yards out to make it 21-8.
The Warriors had a chance to ice it when Brown broke a 59-yard run, but a North Charleston defender caught him just short of the goal line and forced a fumble that the Cougars recovered in the end zone for a touchback. North Charleston promptly drove 80 yards and pulled within 21-16 on Yancey Washington’s 58-yard touchdown pass to Ahmaud King with 8:53 remaining.
Whale Branch again seemed poised to seal it when Mulligan’s 41-yard run set them up with first-and-goal from the 7, but Mulligan fumbled on the 1-yard line two plays later.
The defense came up with two more stops, though, and the Warriors improved to 2-0 in region play to stay tied atop the region standings with Garrett Tech, which knocked off Academic Magnet on Friday.
Whale Branch travels to Academic Magnet on Friday to face a Raptors team that shocked North Charleston last week.
“We’ve just got to be 100 percent,” Hipp said. “We underestimated our opponent (tonight). We didn’t come out here fired up. Next game we’ll be fired up.”