Hough High coach DeShawn Baker knew that his Huskies would have to get past Chambers High to have a shot at winning the Queen City 3A/4A Conference title – and more – this season.
Thanks to Nolan Hauser and some tough defense Friday night, the Huskies are in a better position to do just that.
Hauser made a career-high four field goals and Hough’s defense came up with a score itself in holding off the Cougars 19-13 in an early-season battle of Observer Sweet 16 teams and potential state title contenders.
Hauser, a Clemson commit who set the national record for career field goals last week, added to his total by making attempts of 29, 26, 53 and 24 yards for the Huskies, No. 8 in the latest Sweet 16 rankings.
The 53-yarder, coming in the third quarter to put Hough (4-1, 1-0) ahead 16-7, also was a personal best and school records for the senior.
“What more can you say about Nolan?” Baker said after the game. “He’s proving to everybody that he’s probably the best (high school) kicker in the nation.”
Hauser also made up for a Huskies offense that was able to drive into Chambers’ red zone – but couldn’t seal the deal with a touchdown.
Hough’s only TD came after linebacker Chris Hilliard knocked the ball out of Cougars’ quarterback Tre Robinson’s hands late in the first quarter. Xavier McIntyre came up with the loose ball and took it 52 yards for a touchdown and a 10-0 Huskies lead with 2 minutes, 38 seconds left.
That’s not saying Hough’s offense couldn’t move the ball – far from it. The Huskies finished with 16 first downs and 219 yards total offense.
But Hough also needed its defense to help shut down Chambers, No. 5 in the Sweet 16. The Cougars finished with 14 first downs and 232 yards total offense, and scored twice to pull back in contention.
Chambers’ first score came at the end of a 14-play, 91-yard drive, with Robinson capping the drive with a one-yard power play up the middle with 9:18 left in the second quarter, followed by Saul Carvona’s extra-point kick.
The Cougars’ next touchdown made the game interesting, and put Hough in danger of losing the lead.
Another long Chambers drive ended with Zierre Brooks’ one-yard keeper with 8:13 left in the fourth quarter to pull within 16-13. Cougars head coach Brandon Wiggins then opted to go for two points – only for a delay penalty pushing the ball back five yards.
But another five-yard penalty – this one against Hough, for encroachment – gave Chambers another chance at a two-pointer, with Hough’s defense stuffing Braylon Vinson’s sweep around right end for a loss.
“We knew it was going to be a close game,” Wiggins said. “It was going to come down to field position and turnovers, and making plays when we needed to make them. Our guys fought hard; we just need to fight harder next week.”
Three who made a difference
Nolan Hauser, Hough: Added to his national record with four field goals (in five attempts) – more than he’s made for the Huskies in their first four games this season.
Trey Blakeney, Hough: Threw for 157 yards on 19 of 28 attempts, with one interception in the first quarter – the Huskies’ only turnover in the game. He threw for 102 yards in the second half.
Braylon Vinson, Chambers: The senior back finished with a game-high 60 rushing yards on 14 carries after averaging 117 yards per game in the Cougars’ first four games.
Chambers goes on the road to Charlotte to play conference rival Harding University on Friday. Meanwhile, Hough is also on the road, traveling to West Mecklenburg for a Queen City 3A/4A matchup.
CHAMBERS 0 7 0 6 -- 13
HOUGH 10 0 6 3 -- 19
H—Nolan Hauser 29 FG.
H—Xavier McIntyre 52 fumble return (Hauser kick).
C—Tre Robinson 1 run (Saul Carvona kick).
H—Hauser 26 FG.
H--Hauser 53 FG.
C—Zierre Brooks 1 run (run failed).
H—Hauser 24 FG.