By Tommy Wells
Seward Phoenix LOG 

'Hawks keep playoff hopes alive

 

September 28, 2017 | View PDF

Tommy Wells/Seward Phoenix LOG

SSeward's Brandon Lynch scrambles for a big gain during the first half of the Seahawks' 12-0 win over Voznesenka.

The Seward Seahawks desperately needed a spark to keep their hopes of securing a postseason berth alive on Saturday afternoon on a rain-soaked Steinbrecher Field.

Derek Hirschman and the Seward High School defense delivered it.

Hirschman return an interception for a touchdown and the Seward defense thwarted several Voznesenka threats en route to helping the Seahawks claim a 12-0 victory in a key Peninsula Conference showdown.

With the victory, Seward snapped a 5-game losing streak and, more importantly, kept their playoff hopes alive. The win sends the Seahawks into the final week of the regular season needing a victory over rival Nikiski to garner the conference's runner-up spot.

All those playoff dreams can be credited to one slippery football falling into Hirschman's hands early in the second quarter.

Now 2-5 for the season, the Seahawks struggled to get their offense untracked against a tough Voznesenka defense early on. Seward saw both of its first-quarter drives end inside the Cougars' 10.

The SHS defense put Voznesenka in a hole moments into the game. The Seahawks blocked a VHS punt just 2:23 into the match. Brandon Lynch scooped up the blocked punt at the Cougar 30.

The Seahawks looked as if they were going to make Voznesenka pay dearly for the error. On first down, Beau Freiberg took a handoff from Chris Kingsland and sprinted around the right end for 14 yards. After back-to-back runs from Gabe Schrock and Freiberg that pushed the ball to the 10, the Seahawks hit a wall. Voznesenka pulled down the SHS running backs for losses on third and fourth down and forced Seward to turn the ball over on downs at the 14.

The Cougars didn't find moving the ball any easier against the SHS defense on their second possession. Voznesenka moved the ball just five yards on its next three plays before having to punt for a second time.

The Seahawks threatened to put the Cougars in a hole again from there. Sparked by a 16-yard scamper by Schrock on first down, Seward marched to the Voznesenka 17. From there, Schrock powered his way through the middle for 5 yards and a first down at the VHS 12.

Unfortunately for the Seahawks, the threat fell apart again. Despite a 9-yard run by Schrock that took the ball to the Cougars' 5, Seward watched on as the effort sputtered, Voznesenka's David Kuzmin dragged down Schrock for no gain on a 4th-and-3 play.

Hirschman and the Seahawk defense made up for the offense's struggles moments later. The SHS linebacker stepped in front of a short screen pass attempt by the Cougars' Savio Anufriev at the VHS 23 and scampered into the end zone.

Hirschman's pick-six return staked Seward to a 6-0 cushion with 10:03 remaining in the first half.

Voznesenka's defense turned in a big play of its own midway through the second. The Cougars stymied a faked punting attempt by the Seahawks on a 4th-and-13 call, giving Voznesenka the ball inside the SHS 35.

The Seahawks turned back the threat, however. Seward allowed the Cougars to gain just 2 yards on their first three plays and then forced Anufriev to hurry a pass on fourth down that fell incomplete.

Lynch, one of several Seward seniors honored before the start of the game during Senior Day activities, helped Seward seal the victory in the second half. He scored on a short 4-yard plunge in the third that pushed the SHS lead to 12-0.

Voznesenka fell to 1-5 with the loss.

Seward will return to action on Saturday when they travel to Nikiski to face the Bulldogs. A Seward victory would force a tie for second in the conference standings. Seward, by virtue of its win, would secure the tie-breaker.

Homer secured the Peninsula Conference champion on Friday.

with a 55-0 victory over Redington.

 

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