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Battered and bruised, but not beaten: MHS defense shows resiliency in Mohawk Bowl victory

MORGANTOWN – The Morgantown Mohigans won the 2022 Mohawk Bowl by defeating University 21-20 at Pony Lewis Field Friday night behind some tough defensive play.

Despite having some injuries, most notably senior safety Drew Boczek who missed the game with a high-ankle sprain, the Mohigan defense held tough down the stretch after allowing a touchdown on the second UHS drive of the game.

Following the win, MHS head coach Sean Biser spoke of his players’ ability to not give up throughout the game, particularly on the defensive side of the ball.

“You just have to keep coaching them,” Biser said. “It’s just what you do. You keep believing in your players and tell them to not give up on themselves. We didn’t do anything special but we played the way that we have coached them to play. Coach (Adam) King stayed on their case and they responded.”

After being down 13-0 in the first quarter, MHS scored a touchdown to cut the deficit to 13-7 after an extra point.

That was when the secondary of MHS stepped up as Bobby Powell intercepted a pass from UHS quarterback Luke Hudson. Powell hid behind the intended receiver before making a jump on the ball and picking it off.

Both offenses would stagnate a bit in the second quarter, putting the task of stopping the other team on the shoulders of the defenses.

Once again, it would be the second level of the Mohigan defense to make a play, particularly Powell, as he snatched another pass from Hudson out of the air for his second interception of the night with less than a minute until halftime. The play gave MHS the ball back, and the offense scored a touchdown at the buzzer to the lead 14-13 at the break.

That response Biser mentioned was crucial to the second half and the Mohigans taking home the victory. MHS held the Hawks to just six points in the second half, impacting the game in the backfield after causing a disturbance in the secondary in the opening half. Multiple times MHS put pressure on Hudson, who had a lot of time to throw in the first half.

“It seemed like he could’ve knit a sweater back there in the first half,” Biser said.

MHS junior defensive lineman Braylon Brown said the message in the locker room at halftime was to clean up the easy mistakes, and everything else would fall into place.

“We just had to hold them and give the ball back to our offense,” said the 280-pound junior. “We allowed two unanswered scores that shouldn’t have been given up, but all you can do is try and get it back. We were on the field too much (Friday), but you have to dig deep and keep it pushing. We need to get healthy and stay that way to keep it rolling into the last week.”

Despite essentially clinching a playoff spot with the win, MHS still has one game to go, and it won’t be an easy task as 8-1 Linsly comes to visit next week. A win would give the Mohigans a much-needed momentum boost going into the postseason, and would also help them toward hosting in the first round.

“I’m just proud of the way our defense responded tonight,” Biser said. “When you coach a kid hard and they respond to you in a positive way, that tells you as a coach that they have respect for you and they believe in what you’re doing.”

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