The Hastings Saxons were having a season for the history books through the first seven weeks. They won their last six games, and that earned them a date with Paw Paw in the district semifinals. This was a tremendous football game, as Hastings put together a late charge. The Saxons had an opportunity to tie the game with a conversion, but the Red Wolves’ defense held serve for a 24-22 victory.
In the first half of this game, Paw Paw was in complete control. The Red Wolves scored all seventeen first half points. Kolby Hindenach ran in the lone touchdown in the first quarter from two yards out. With just under two minutes to play in the half, Jose Valverde booted a 49-yard field goal. Finally, on the last play of the first half, Zeyan Davis rumbled his way into the end zone from three yards out.
Hastings was able to take a bite into the Paw Paw lead when TJ Russell maneuvered through the defense for a twelve yard touchdown. Robby Slaughter converted the two-point try with a run of his own, and the Saxons were within nine headed into the fourth quarter.
Paw Paw scored a crucial touchdown with just under ten minutes to play. Will Marshall carried the football and crossed the goal line from twenty-nine yards out. The extra point made it 24-8 Red Wolves.
On the ensuing kickoff, Robby Slaughter fielded the football at the seven yard line. After some great blocks and an impressive display of speed, Slaughter was in the end zone for a ninety-three yard touchdown return. TJ Russell ran in the two-point conversion that brought the score to 24-16 in favor of Paw Paw with 9:37 to go.
After getting a defensive stop, Hastings continued to ride their wave of momentum. With just over five minutes to play, Robby Slaughter ran for a two-yard touchdown to bring the Saxons within two points. They lined up for a two-point conversion and the attempt at the tie. Mason Denton, the Saxons quarterback, tried to find an open receiver, but was unable to connect with anyone. This left Hastings behind by two points.
In the final five minutes, Hastings was unable to mount a comeback drive. The Red Wolves escaped this contest in a narrow manner. Turnovers were crucial in this game, as Hastings committed two costly fumbles. Paw Paw, meanwhile, did not turn the football over. In terms of yardage, the Saxons actually outgained Paw Paw 220-218.
Robby Slaughter earns tonight’s Saxon of the Game Honors, brought to you by The Other Body Shop. He carried the football 22 times for 97 yards and a touchdown. Slaughter made an impact on special teams with an explosive 93-yard kickoff return touchdown.
Next week, Paw Paw will travel to Edwardsburg to take on the Eddies in the district finals. These two teams met in the regular season finale, a game in which Edwardsburg won 60-6.
Hastings ends 2020 at 6-2. This season saw the Saxons win their first conference title since 2001, and they racked up their most wins since 2012. This was an extremely successful season for the team.