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Tag Archive | "Brant Brooks"

Hawks fall on Saturday, still clinch playoff spot


Brant Brooks celebrates after scoring a touchdown in the second quarter. Photo by Marcie Crouch.

Brant Brooks celebrates after scoring a touchdown in the second quarter. Photo by Marcie Crouch.

By Shae Brophy

With the top spot in the MLFA’s Big Eight division on the line, the West Michigan Hawks hosted the Toledo Thunder on Saturday evening at Skinner Field. The teams shared identical 4-1 records coming into the game, and a win for either team would put them in the drivers seat for the top seed in the division.

A tough, hard fought game saw the Thunder come out on top with a 12-7 victory. After returning the game’s opening kickoff 99 yards to the one-yard line, Toledo opened the scoring with a one yard scamper on the game’s first play from scrimmage. After missing the extra point, the score remained 6-0.

The Hawks responded late in the second quarter, when Brant Brooks hauled in a five yard pass for a touchdown from quarterback Charles Manny Hodges. The extra point gave the Hawks a 7-6 lead, which they took into halftime.

Toledo was able to answer early in the third quarter, regaining the lead on a 26 yard touchdown run. Their two-point attempt was stuffed by the Hawks, keeping the score at a reasonable 12-7 margin.

With the score still the same late in the fourth quarter, the Hawks got the ball back at their own nine-yard line with just over a minute remaining. A big play brought them out to the Toledo 45-yard line with 24 seconds left, but a holding penalty and the subsequent 10-second run off put the Hawks in a tough spot, with the ball on their own 45-yard line and seven seconds remaining. On the final play of the game, they completed a long pass down field, but they were not able to find the end zone. Overall, Toledo outscored West Michigan by a margin of 393-242.

Cornerback Omar Haynes finished the game with three interceptions for the Hawks, while linebacker JaVon Welch had 12.5 tackles.

Despite the loss, the Hawks still clinched the franchise’s first appearance in the playoffs as a result of losses from other teams across the league.

“I thought we played a solid football game,” said head coach David Lange. “We missed a few opportunities to take the lead, but overall I thought we adjusted nicely. All we can do is look to the next game.”

The Hawks will be in action again this Saturday at Skinner Field when they host the West Michigan Force. Tickets are $6 a piece, with children eight and under free. The Hawks will be raffling off numerous items from local businesses, such as pizza from Hungry Howies and Vitale’s, gift cards to KC’s, and much much more! We hope to see you there!

FROM OWNER DAVID LANGE:

“An incident occurred in the stands of Saturday evening’s West Michigan Hawks game. Members from the West Michigan Force attended the game to scout our team before our game against them this upcoming weekend. I’d like to personally and formally apologize to the fans who witnessed this incident. The actions from these players were unacceptable, and will not be tolerated by the Hawks or Skinner Field. The Force were reprimanded by the league for their actions, with eight of their players being suspended for this weekend’s game. I have also ensured that there will be a heightened police presence at the game, and a security presence on the field. Our fans and the safety of our fans is our highest priority when we play at home, and we have taken steps to ensure that the integrity of the upcoming game will be of the highest quality.”

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West Michigan Hawks improve to 2-0 in conference play


Running back Brant Brooks running to the end zone. Photo by M Crouch.

Running back Brant Brooks running to the end zone. Photo by M Crouch.

Fresh off a 50-8 drubbing of the Kalamazoo Grizzlies to open the conference portion of their schedule, the Hawks welcomed highly touted Southern Michigan Timberwolves to Skinner Field on Saturday. The Timberwolves had scored 84 points in a non-conference game this season, and were coming off a 62-24 victory the week prior. To say the odds were against the Hawks would be an understatement.

With emotions running high, the Hawks took the field on a mission to make a statement. In the end, they did just that. West Michigan squeaked out a 19-18 victory in double overtime, officially putting the rest of the Minor League Football Alliance on notice.

Running back Brant Brooks started the scoring on a 30-yard touchdown catch on a pass from quarterback Charles Manny Hodges, putting the Hawks up 6-0 in the first quarter. From that point on, the game turned into an intense battle for field position. The score remained 6-0 at halftime.

Both teams continued their defensive intensity in the second half. The Timberwolves were finally able to break into the end zone with 12 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, evening the score at 6-6.

Fireworks ensued in the final minute of regulation. With the Hawks pinned down at their own one-yard line, Hodges found wide receiver Monta Swanigan on a deep pass for a 99-yard touchdown with 43 seconds remaining, the longest scoring play in team history. That made the score 12-6 in favor of the Hawks. Southern Michigan responded by marching down the field and scoring the tying touchdown seconds later, but opted to go for the two-point conversion for the win, which was stuffed by the Hawks.

The overtime session was played under NCAA rules, with both teams getting a chance with the ball. Neither team scored in the first overtime. The Timberwolves found the end zone in the second overtime period, pushing the score to 18-12 in favor of Southern Michigan. On the following Hawks possession, Hodges found the end zone on a one-yard quarterback sneak, tying the score at 18, and setting up a dramatic extra point attempt for kicker Dontae Ensley. After missing on his first attempt, a penalty on the Timberwolves gave him another chance to seal the deal. His second attempt was up and good, securing the 19-18 Hawks victory.

“We knew this game was going to be a tough one,” said Ensley.  We were facing the best opponent we have seen yet. We stuck to our game plan, and blocked out all of the predictions saying that we would be blown out. We showed them that we are not a push over team. It may have taken us two overtimes to do it, but we came home with the win.”

Omar Haynes, Robert Bell, and Darnell Madison all had interceptions for the Hawks, and Javon Welch also secured a fumble recovery.

“I think all questions concerning the heart and dedication of the Hawks have been answered,” said head coach/owner David Lange. “We played against a team with a 56-man roster who had fresh legs almost every play, and still found a way to win in. It was very inspiring.”

This week, the Hawks will find themselves playing in enemy territory for the first time this season. The team will travel to Kalamazoo for a matchup with the West Michigan Bulls. For information on this matchup, be sure to follow the team on Facebook.

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