Daily Press (Sunday)

Hinton’s late TD caps Braves’ upset win in game of big plays

- By Jim McGrath Staff writer Jim McGrath, 757-813-3809, james. mcgrath@virginiame­dia.com

SUFFOLK — In a game that featured the longest play possible from scrimmage in football, it was the second-longest play of the night that captured a transforma­tional win for No. 14 Indian River, which defeated No. 6 Nansemond River 45-38.

The slugfest ended up similar to a track meet.

Late in the third quarter, after a Tyler Allison pooch punt backed the Braves to their 1-yard line, Nansemond River’s Alkendric Overton threw a safe flare pass to Immanuel Ezeogu in the left flat. Ezeogu (six receptions, 168 yards) gained steam and outran the Indian River defense down the left sideline for a 99-yard touchdown pass.

But as the game wound down into the final four minutes and the score tied at 38, Indian River’s Malachi Hinton had ideas of his own. Hinton took a pitch left, found some open ground toward the secondary and then found trouble.

“I just used my instincts. I saw a guy on my left and another on my right. I had to trust my speed,” said Hinton, who finished with 207 yards on seven carries.

With an ankle-breaking juke to the left, Hinton faked out both defenders, leaving him with plenty of open real estate. He used it to his advantage, outrunning the defenders to the end zone for an 82-yard touchdown.

It would be the winning score in the Southeaste­rn District game.

“We have had some battles over the past few weeks,” said Indian River coach Brandon Carr, whose team is now 4-3. “The best part was how our guys stood up, connected for each other and we came out on the other side.”

The Braves’ offense totaled 501 yards.

The game played like a chess match in the opening periods as Nansemond River would score, only to be countered by the visitors from Chesapeake. Ezeogu opened the scoring for the Warriors (5-2) with a 20-yard reception from Overton, only to see Indian River’s Davion Turns grab a pass from Tyler Allison (11 of 18, 189 yards, four TDs) and sprint 67 yards for a quick touchdown.

A fumble recovery by Anthony Morris gave the Braves the ball at the Nansemond River 15, but Indian River could only muster a 25-yard field goal by Noah Martinez. When Overton found Najae Jones for a 10-yard TD pass a few minutes later, the Warriors had a 14-10 lead at home.

Nick Grier found a seam in the offensive line and darted 31 yards for another touchdown, and Nansemond River appeared to take control with a 21-10 lead.

The Warriors would be denied by Indian River, which stormed back to score three touchdowns in the remainder of the second quarter.

Morris snared a 19-yard scoring pass from Allison to cut the lead to 21-17. After an intercepti­on by Tra’veion Slaughter gave the Braves the ball at their 23, Hinton broke free on a handoff and sprinted 77 yards for a go-ahead touchdown.

Another TD pass to Morris, who was wide open in front of the end zone, put the Braves ahead 31-21 at halftime.

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