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Defense lifts Currituck past Hickory w/Video

Currituck 12 Hickory (Va.) 6

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Currituck's Trent Walker (center) holds the football player of the game shield with his teammates after Currituck defeated Hickory (Va.) 12-6, Thursday, August 30, 2018 at Currituck County High School.

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By Malcolm Shields
Sports Editor

Saturday, September 1, 2018

BARCO — Three weeks into the 2018 high school football season, the Currituck defense has been the strength of the team.

When the Knights needed a stop against Hickory, the unit came through.

The Currituck defense held Hickory to a yard run on 4th-and-four at their own 11-yard line late in the fourth quarter as the Knights defeated Hickory 12-6 Thursday night at Currituck County High School.

On the deciding play on fourth down, Hickory quarterback Cam Manning took the snap from shotgun to pass.

Because of the pass rush from Currituck’s Collin Jennings up the middle and Kentrial “KJ” Harvey from Manning’s right, the quarterback had to step up in the pocket to run.

Jennings and Harvey got a piece of the Hawks quarterback, but Josh Aubuchon rushed over from Manning’s left to bring down the Hickory quarterback three-yards short of the first down marker to force the turnover on downs with 24 seconds to go.

“I saw a clear path to him,” Aubuchon said.

It was a great feeling for Aubuchon to play a role in the deciding play, while giving credit to his teammates.

“I can’t do it without my boys,” he said.

Currituck interim coach Paul Bossi credited his team’s hard work and conditioning that paid off in the contest.

“If you are out of shape, you just fold,” he said. “We had a tough one with Manteo. This was definitely a tough one. They were bending, but they didn’t break. I’m really, really proud of these guys.”

It was a standout performance for Aubuchon, who also recorded a safety in the first half and blocked and extra-point attempt in the fourth.

“He’s a tremendous player for us,” Bossi said of Aubuchon.

The coach added that the senior, listed at 6-foot-3, 245 pounds, played key roles on offense and defense.

“He’s a real good universal player for us,” Bossi said. “I’m really happy to have him.”

It was definitely a bend but don’t break performance for the Currituck defense.

Leading up to the fourth down play, the Hawks — from Chesapeake, Virginia — began their final offensive drive of the game at their own 20-yard line with 3:29 to go.

Hickory moved into Currituck territory on a Manning 30-yard pass to Trevontae Harper. Manning hit Michael Evans Jr. on a 14-yard pass.

A pair of runs by Jaramis Council moved the Hawks closer to the end zone.

The game featured multiple big plays.

Currituck took a 3-0 lead in the first quarter on an Egan Mansfield 33-yard field goal.

The kick was set up on a Jayden Calloway 47-yard run.

The Currituck defense got in on the scoring as on Hickory’s next drive.

On a Hickory run, Trent Walker dislodged the football from the running back and returned it 33 yards for a touchdown to increase the Knights’ lead to 10-0 with 29 seconds to go in the first.

“It was a gang tackle,” Walker said. “I saw the ball and I grabbed it and ran. I really have to thank my teammates for holding him up for me.”

For his efforts, Walker was given the team player of the game award, which is a Medieval-style knight shield.

Aubuchon’s safety with less than four minutes to go in the second gave the Knights a 12-0 lead.

The Currituck offense had its ups-and-downs in the game.

The Knights had an interception in the end zone late in the second quarter and had a blocked field goal in the third.

A kickoff return for a touchdown was negated by an illegal block.

Many of the penalties called on Currituck were alignment or holding penalties.

Currituck committed more than 10 penalties in the contest.

Hickory got on the scoreboard in the fourth quarter on a Manning 12-yard touchdown run.

The win had meaning for Walker, who is a junior.

“It was a great team win,” Walker said. He added that it was special to beat a Hickory team that the Knights had lost to the previous three seasons.

The Knights are off to their first 3-0 start to a season since the 2013 campaign when Currituck won its first four games.

“Each win is giving us momentum,” Bossi said. “We are gelling more as a team.”

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