By Ronn Rowland
Phoenix Sports Writer
TAHLEQUAH – It took the Hulbert Riders one series to get going, and go they did as they closed out the 2012 season with a 46-26 win over the Ketchum Warriors on Thursday at Doc Wadley Stadium in Tahlequah.
After each school had a possession to start the game, the Riders (3-7, 2-5 District 2A-8) mounted a 10-play, 90-yard drive that culminated in a 9-yard touchdown run by senior Chris Vance to put Hulbert up 7-0.
The Riders held that advantage until the 9:52 mark of the second quarter when they began a drive on the Warriors (2-8, 0-7 2A-8) 39-yard line after a Spencer Frye interception and took four plays to score when Vance hit Frye on a 32-yard touchdown pass to give the Riders a 13-0 lead.
“The first drive didn’t end the way we wanted it to,” said Hulbert coach Mitchell Crittenden. “But the second drive kind of sparked us and we took control.”
After Hulbert’s John Hamby returned a Ketchum punt to the Warriors’ 33-yard line, Brandon Thompson connected with Craig Potts on the next play with 3:19 remaining in the half to give Hulbert a 20-0 advantage.
The Riders closed out the scoring in the first half with 2.7 seconds remaining when Vance hit Hamby from two yards out to give Hulbert a 26-0 lead heading into the locker room.
“Our offensive was creating holes all night long,” said Vance, who finished with a game-high 69 yards rushing on 21 carries and two touchdowns while completing 3 of 5 passes for 49 yards and three scores. “That made it hard for their defense to key on just one of us. It’s a nice way to go out in my final game.”
The third quarter began with Ketchum successfully converting an onside kick, recovering at Hulbert’s 40-yard line and taking five plays before Ketchum’s Chase Monroe busted in from 2-yards out to make the score 26-6.
Hulbert regained the momentum on the ensuing drive, going 52 yards on four plays and ending the drive when Vance came clean through the middle and raced 45 yards to give the Riders a 33-6 advantage with 7:43 left in the third quarter.
Five minutes later, Vance would hit Potts on a 15-yard strike to give the Riders a 39-6 lead.
“The key was to follow the big boys ahead of us and run as fast as we can,” said Hamby, who finished with 54 yards rushing on 11 carries and 41 yards on three punt returns. “It boiled down to good blocking and good teammate play.”
Potts finished as the team’s leading receiver with two catches for 48 yards and two touchdowns. Ketchum’s Tanner Mouse led all receivers with 104 yards on six receptions and touchdown receptions of 50 and 25 yards.
“They hit us a couple of times for big strikes,” Crittenden said. “They came out a grabbed that onside kick to start the second half. Our youth showed up in the second half but our seniors gathered everything back.”
HULBERT 46, KETCHUM 26
Ketchum 0 0 12 14—26
Hulbert 7 19 13 7—46
HHS- Chris Vance 9-yard run (Craig Potts kick), 1:36.
HHS- Spencer Frye 32-yard pass from Vance (Kick failed), 9:52
HHS-Potts 33-yard pass from Brandon Thompson (Potts kick), 3:19
HHS-John Hamby 2-yard pass from Vance (Kick failed), 0:02.7
KHS- Chase Monroe 1-yard run (Kick failed), 9:59
HHS-Vance 45-yard run (Vance kick), 7:43
HHS-Potts 15-yard pass from Vance (Pass failed), 2:20
KHS-Zach Royal 92-yard kickoff return (Kick failed), 2:05
HHS-Hamby 5-yard run (Potts kick), 9:26
KHS-Tanner Mouse 50-yard pass from Royal (Monroe run), 7:26
KHS-Mouse 25-yard pass from Royal (run failed), 1:57
First Downs 10 18
Rushes-Yards 26-72 47-192
Passing Yards 137 82
Passes CAI 11-17-2 4-7-0
Punts-Avg 1-30 3-31.3
Fumbles-Lost 1-0 1-1
Penalties-Yards 4-40 7-65
Rushing: HHS, Chris Vance 21-69 (2TDs). KHS, Chase Monroe 13-55 (TD).
Passing: HHS, Vance 3-5-49-0 (3 TDs). KHS, Zach Royal 7-12-120-2 (2 TDs).
Receiving: HHS, Craig Potts 2-48 (2 TDs). KHS, Tanner Mouse 6-104 (2 TDs).