JACKSON (Belhaven Athletics) – The Belhaven football team couldn't slow down 15th ranked Faulkner University on Saturday afternoon, falling 66-14 in a Mid-South Conference West Division contest at H.T. Newell Field. The Blazers knew they had their hands full with one of the top offenses in the country. The Eagles lived up to their reputation exploding for 663 yards of total offense.
Belhaven (2-7, 0-4 MSC) started the game in control of the football and arguably turned in the best offensive drive of the season. After being pinned back on their own 11 yard line following the kickoff, the Blazers began their march down the field that covered 89 yards on 12 plays. Quarterback Ian McGinnis had some key completions including a 31 yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Justin Kenyon. Linebacker Gregory Goree also ran for a first down on a fake punt to keep the drive alive.
Faulkner (7-2, 3-1 MSC) didn't waste much time in knotting the score at 7-7. The Eagles found the end zone just under a minute and a half later on a 32 yard touchdown pass from quarterback Josh Hollingsworth to running back Triston McCathern. With 3:40 left in the first, Faulkner grabbed the lead at 10-7 on a 20 yard field goal by Cameron Golob which was setup on a muffed punt return by Belhaven.
Faulkner's defense stopped Belhaven on three plays and quickly went back to work on the offensive side of the ball. This time Hollingsworth used his legs, scrambling three times on the drive. One generated a first down and another put six points on the board from three yards out.
Trailing 17-7 to start the second quarter, Belhaven fought back to within one score thanks again to the arm of McGinnis and the hands of wide receiver Jesse Gibson, Jr. On a first and 10 play from his own 25, McGinnis delivered a 51 yard pass to Gibson after scrambling away from pressure in the pocket. Five plays later from the Eagles 12, Gibson got open in the end zone and McGinnis hit him for the touchdown. The extra point from kicker Kyler Ainley made it 17-14 game.
Unfortunately, things went Faulkner's way for the rest of the afternoon. The Eagles closed the second quarter with two more touchdown throws from Hollingsworth. The first went for 19 yards to A.J. Stevenson and the other was a 29 yard strike to Steve Dawson.
Belhaven also missed some opportunities to add points themselves. Interceptions by Gregory Goree and Shawn Paul setup up the offense in Faulkner's red zone, but neither led to points. The Blazers turned the ball over on downs at the Eagles 21 and then as running back Alvin Fairley appeared to be crossing the goal line on the next drive, the ball was pried loose and Faulkner recovered.
Leading 31-14 at the half, Faulkner came out in the second half and continued to fire on all cylinders offensively. Hollingsworth threw three more touchdown passes, giving him six for the game. One was a 75 yarder to running back David Amos out of the backfield followed by a 30 yard TD to wide receiver Trump Harrison. Harrison also grabbed the third and used his legs to go 92 yards for the score.
Faulkner's other two touchdowns to close the game came on a 15 yard fumble return by Tony Threatt and a 45 yard touchdown pass from backup quarterback Damon Baca to David Cochran.
McGinnis anchored the Belhaven offense completing 20 passes for 224 yards and two touchdowns. He performed well under pressure, despite being sacked twice and hurried four other times by Faulkner defenders. Kenyon was his favorite target, hauling in eight receptions for 81 yards and score. As a team, the Blazers ended the day with 341 total yards.
Defensively, Goree was all over the field with a game high 11 tackles to go along with his interception and a forced fumble. Darius Wren had seven stops including a sack.
Hollingsworth completed 19 pass attempts for 441 yards and six touchdowns. He was sacked once and threw a pair of interceptions. Trump Harrison caught three passes for 131 yards and two scores. McCathern kept the Belhaven defense honest with his feet, carrying the ball seven times for 58 yards.
Marte Sears collected nine tackles to lead Faulkner on defense followed by Mitchell Hoskins with eight tackles, including one for a loss. Tre Whitaker had one interception for the Eagles secondary.
Belhaven will be on the road for the final two weeks of the season starting next week at the University of Pikeville (KY). The kickoff is slated for 1:30 PM.
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