MORGANTOWN — Clay Maholic struggled to find his niche during the University’s first two games of the season against John Marshall and Parkersburg South.
As a first-year starter on defense, he bounced around from position to position trying to find a home along the Hawks’ front 7 and it may have finally clicked in Friday night’s 40-20 win over Brooke at Mylan Pharmeceuticals Stadium. To no surprise of his head coach.
“He worked his ass off this summer and he put on a show tonight — that’s how you play defense, that’s how you want to win and I’ve never been more proud as a coach,” John Kelley said. “He made big play after big play and is so fundamentally sound.”
Maholic, a junior, manned a linebacker spot and also played some fullback, but the highlight of his night was blocking a punt in the third quarter, followed by being mobbed by his teammates on the sideline.
Kelley started to see Maholic’s worth ethic over the summer during the Hawks’ 3-week workout period in June. Besides football practice in the morning, there is also weight lifting and other voluntary sessions.
Maholic didn’t miss a single one, and while that’s not abnormal for most, he also played American Legion baseball for Morgantown Post 2. That team played a 28-game schedule from the beginning of June through the middle of July, and just like in football, Maholic didn’t miss a game.
“I like to stay in shape and just play football for the fun of it — I like to hit people and can’t get arrested for it,” he said. “I love baseball and it’s my passion, but I love doing this, too.
“It’s hard to juggle both, but I find time for it. It’s all worth it in the end.”
Kelley hoped Maholic’s attitude rubbed off on his teammates.
“He played Legion baseball but was here every day in the summer and there were some who tried to come up with excuses — he never had one,” Kelley said. “He was here and he just wants to make this team win.”
Wide receiver Amir Richardson and quarterback Logan Holgorsen helped the Hawks (2-1) get off to a fast start against the Bruins (0-2). Holgorsen tossed an out pass to Richardson on UHS’s second drive and Richardson danced his way 54 yards for a touchdown. On the next series, Richardson scurried 25 yards for another touchdown.
Holgorsen had first-half problems, though. Other than nearly having his head ripped off on a facemask penalty, he also threw three interceptions, allowing Brooke back into it.
After tying the score at 14, though, the Bruins struggled to get anything going offensively in the second half. After Ben Gribble scored toward the end of the second quarter, UHS didn’t look back.
Holgorsen finished with 276 yards and three touchdowns. Receiver Evan Parow had four catches for 112 yards and two scores.
Brooke quarterbackGage Yost completed just four passes but two went for touchdowns — a 14-yarder to Aleksey Rasz and a 66-yarder over the middle to Logan Williams.
UHS will host Wheeling Park at 7:30 p.m. next Friday, while Brooke hosts Morgantown at 7:30 p.m.