SEQUOYAH — Logan Hattaway underwent a noticeable change in the second half.
It was as if his proverbial internal fire suddenly exploded, releasing a scorching fury upon his defensive adversaries. And for Sequoyah, that firestorm resulted in some much-needed points.
The 5-foot-10, 170-pound junior running back accounted for 113 of his 124 yards and two touchdowns in the second half alone, leading the Eagles to a 34-15 victory over Salina on Friday night at the Pope Athletic Complex.
Hattaway's second carry of the half went for a 42-yard gain on third down, and he scored from 18 yards out two plays later to increase the Sequoyah lead to 21-7 at the 9:36 mark of the third quarter. He scored the next touchdown as well less than three minutes later from 1 yard out, increasing the advantage to 27-7.
His 8.3 yards per carry in the second half — up from 2.2 in the first half — seemed to have also snapped the Eagles out of their recent offensive slump, in which they scored 33 points through six quarters.
“I don’t really think it was the plan (to get me more carries in the second half), but we just have that set that we do, and we knew it works because not a lot of teams see it,” said Hattaway, who carried the ball 15 times in the second half. “So we run it, and we surprise them with it and make yards on it. It was kind of a surprise for them, not for us. We just kept running the ball over and over.”
Hattaway saw the ball only five times in the first half, and he was tackled for a loss on three of those occasions. In the second half, however, he was caught in the backfield only twice despite tripling his number of touches.
Sequoyah coach Rob Gilbreath attributed the improved success rate to his staff’s halftime adjustments.
“We figured out what we were doing and got some points on the board, finally,” Gilbreath said. “Kudos to the coaches and the players for being able to adjust on the field. We went to our single-wing set and just whipped them up front, mainly in that third quarter. They were doing a lot of blitzing and confusing our linemen in the first half.”
Of course, Hattaway wasn’t the only ball carrier to reap the successes of those adjustments.
Josh Harwell, a senior running back, tallied most of his yards in the second half as well, finishing with 112 yards on 11 carries — a whopping 10.2 yards per carry. His 22-yard touchdown run with 8:07 remaining in the second quarter ended a scoreless deadlock between the teams.
“He just runs hard,” Gilbreath said.
Quarterback Landon Gilbreath had success on the ground as well, accumulating 73 yards on 10 carries. He also completed 4 of 5 passes for 125 yards and two touchdowns.
Salina’s Jack Wilkins gave the Wildcats a 7-6 lead on a 7-yard run out of the wildcat formation with 1:10 remaining in the second quarter, but Landon Gilbreath responded quickly with a 60-yard scoring strike to Dylan Piguet, who notched two catches for 64 yards. After Hattaway tacked on the 2-point conversion, the Eagles found themselves back in front 14-7 at the 0:24 mark.
Sequoyah (4-1, 2-0 2A-8) never trailed again.
Hattaway scored twice in the third quarter to blow things open, and a 27-yard touchdown pass from Landon Gilbreath to Dylan Burks with 9:51 remaining made it a 34-7 spread. Burks had two receptions for 61 yards.
Salina (2-3, 0-2) answered less than a minute later, for quarterback Conner Johnson moved it downfield quickly with a 70-yard pass to JT Kelley, and Payton Burns capped the drive two plays later with a 5-yard run.
Johnson threw for 218 yards on 14-of-22 passing with two interceptions.
The Wildcats recovered the ensuing onside kick, but nothing came of it. They simply couldn’t overcome their two turnovers in addition to a 2-of-12 third-down conversion rate while managing only 35 yards rushing on about 1.3 yards per carry.
In contrast, Sequoyah rushed for 319 yards at about 6.3 yards per carry and finished with 444 yards total.
The Eagles now turn their attention to ninth-ranked Rejoice Christian (4-1, 2-0), which is averaging 48.6 points per game. Sequoyah won last year’s matchup 56-49.
“I’m not really scared (of Rejoice Christian),” Hattaway said. “I feel that if our team plays the way we can, we can play a lot of teams.”