Creek Wood running back Danny Stansberry scored two touchdowns in his final game as a Red Hawk
Photo: Marty Allison/Dickson Sports Media
By Casey Patrick
SAVANNAH, TN – Hardin County defeated Creek Wood 28-14 on Friday night in the second round of the 4A TSSAA football playoffs. The Tigers won by two touchdowns, but the game was much closer than that throughout until the waning seconds of the game.
Both teams finished the first quarter scoreless, as Creek Wood missed a 37 yard field goal on its first drive, but then forced a Hardin County punt. The Red Hawks then charged down the field only to give the ball right back via fumble right before the end of the first quarter.
Turnovers would be the difference in the game as Creek Wood lost one fumble, threw two interceptions, and turned it over on downs once as well.
Hardin County running back John Whitley would go on to score after the initial fumble and take a 7-0 lead with a little under 10 minutes remaining in the second quarter.
Creek Wood responded on the next drive, as Danny Stansberry took the first play from scrimmage all the way to the house for 64 yards. With that score, the Red Hawks evened the score at 7-7 going into halftime.
Both Hardin County and Creek Wood would take their first drive in the second half and get in the end zone as the Tigers took a 14-7 lead from a six yard scramble by quarterback Rivers Hunt. Creek Wood answered, however, with another Danny Stansberry touchdown to even it back up at 14 apiece with 35 seconds left in the third quarter. Hardin County’s offense would continue to have success while Creek Wood’s would go scoreless for the rest of the game.
Hardin County took a 21-14 lead early in the fourth quarter and added another late touchdown with only two minutes remaining to get the score to the 28-14 final.
Creek Wood had chances to come back after forcing Hardin County to punt and turning the Tigers over on downs, but the Red Hawk offense handed the ball back each time with two separate interceptions.
Creek Wood finishes the season with a 9-3 record and the first playoff victory in 14 years.
“Hardin County’s a really good football team,” Creek Wood coach Houston Thiel said. “They’re really physical up front and they did a few things that really messed with our reads. It was just one of those nights where when it felt like we took a step forward we would take two or three back.”
This senior group has been with Thiel for many years, including his coaching days back in middle school. There were obviously some broken hearts and hurt young men on the Creek Wood sideline after the game, but Thiel had nothing but good things to say about his upperclassmen.
“I got them all to stand up there at the end in the huddle just so really I could thank them,” Thiel stated. “Those guys have helped build this program into something that people can be proud of and come out and watch.
“They helped reestablish Creek Wood Football.”
“Really the only word I have for this season is magical,” Creek Wood senior Adam Vickery said.
“I thought we played really hard tonight and all season,” Creek Wood senior James Daugherty said. “It really sucks right now. We had a lot of things not go our way but we battled through it. There are a lot of mixed emotions right now; a lot of us have played together since kindergarten, so this is really tough.”
“These guys are good football players and great men,” Thiel added. “This season is a credit to our seniors. We were senior heavy this season, and they laid a foundation for this program, but we had some younger guys step up and make plays when we needed them. \
“It’s hard to think about all that right now, but I’m always going to be positive looking towards the future.”