Nation Ford’s Quadier Hand runs up field after catching a pass during the Falcons game against Indian Land.

INDIAN LAND – A 28-yard touchdown reception from Drew Hardin gave the Indian Land Warriors a lead with 62 seconds left in the game as they won a slugfest against the Nation Ford Falcons 34-27 to open the 2021 football season.

The game looked to be an Indian Land run away in the first half, but Nation Ford came back in the second half as the two teams put together a more competitive game. Quarterback Carson Black for the Falcons unofficially passed for 225 yards and four touchdowns – two to Kenan Bowman and two to Quadier Hand, all of which came in the second half. Bowman caught seven passes for 65 yards and Hand caught six passes for 99 yards. Black was 19-for-35 with one interception to go with the four scores.

Despite the back-and-forth game in the second half, Nation Ford head coach Michael Allen said his team has a lot to improve on as they start the season 0-1.

“We were sloppy all night,” he said. “We were sloppy across the board. We didn’t execute. We have got work to do. We were on the field a lot. We just run out of gas.”

The days of the Reservation was supposed to be behind the Indian Land Warriors, but they took advantage of a return trip there to open the season against the Falcons. 

Indian Land got the opening kickoff and made the most of their opportunity. On their first drive, quarterback Blake Goode scored on a five-yard touchdown run eating 4:30 off the clock to give them an early 7-0 lead after the extra point.

Nation Ford aided Indian Land in the first quarter by multiple penalties which gave the Warriors extra chances. On the Falcons first drive, Nation Ford was able to move the ball, but penalties hurt them and they were forced to punt. 

The second series for Nation Ford was as much of a struggle as they were again forced to punt. 

Both team’s defenses did well for the most part in the opening quarter. The Falcons were able to contain Indian Land despite the opening series in the first half.

Nation Ford finally found its groove in the second quarter as they picked up two consecutive first downs and got in the red zone with a 40-yard reception by Brooks Johnson who got the Falcons to the eight-yard line. Nation Ford moved to the five, but couldn’t punch it in and turned the ball over on downs after two dropped passes. 

Despite the early play of Warriors’ Goode, Indian Land kept the ball on the ground a lot and went to a running back by committee using multiple players to get the job done. Indian Land’s backs kept Nation Ford’s defense on the field a lot as they struggled to stop them allowing the Warriors to eat up the clock for most of the first half.

On Nation Ford’s second drive for the second quarter, Black threw an interception that was returned 20-yards for the second score of the game for the Warriors, this time by Foster Lambert giving them a 13-0 lead that they would take into the locker room. 

Nation Ford got the ball to open the second half, but again penalties hurt their momentum. 

With as many personal fouls in the game between each team, you would have thought the two were bitter rivals. Indian Land kept the ball on the ground in the second half to open their first series. 

The Falcons second drive was more productive as Indian Land’s unsportsmanlike conduct penalty allowed them to cross midfield. Nation Ford then got on the board as Black hit a streaking Hand over the middle for a 44-yard touchdown with 4:30 left in the third quarter. 

On the ensuing return, Indian Land coughed up the ball on the 15-yard line. Nation Ford wasted no time taking advantage of the Warriors’ miscue as Black hit Bowman for a 15-yard touchdown on the next play to tie the game at 13-13 with 4:12 left in the third quarter. 

Indian Land fumbled again on the next kickoff and Nation Ford recovered at the one-yard line. Black connected with Hand again three plays later to give the Falcons the lead at 20-13 with a about three minutes left in the quarter. 

Indian Land was able to recover in the fourth quarter as they took their opening possession and tied the game 20-20 on a 23-yard touchdown run by Jaden Singletary. 

In the fourth, the Warriors outscored Nation Ford 21-7 as they again took advantage of Falcons’ penalties. Nation Ford unofficially had 18 penalties for 185 yards in the game.

Nation Ford will host Catawba Ridge next week for their first ever match-up.

Mac Banks:, @fortprep

A group of Falcons players tackle Indian Land running back Jaden Singletary.