Whale Branch outlasts Lake View to clear 2nd-round hurdle

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The second-round curse has been vanquished in Seabrook.

Whale Branch gave a gritty performance on the road Friday, winning 27-12 at Lake View to advance to the third round of the playoffs for the first time since 2015.

The Warriors are technically in the Class 1A Lower State semifinal for the second straight year, but last year’s condensed playoff format meant that round came a week earlier. The second round had been a stumbling block in five consecutive seasons, and things got off to a shaky start Friday.

Lake View struck first on a pick-six before senior star Joseph Hicks took over for the Warriors. Hicks scored on a 10-yard run to give Whale Branch the lead, then picked off a pass and returned it to the Gators’ 15 before finding the end zone on a 10-yard pass from Kai’Shawn Jenkins.

Darrell Cummings tacked on a 10-yard touchdown run to make it 21-6 at halftime, and the Warriors were in command.

Lake View’s Marvin Gordon finished off a drive with a 1-yard touchdown run to get the Gators within striking distance, but the Warriors stopped the two-point conversion to keep it a two-score game. Whale Branch sealed it by pinning the Gators deep and forcing a fumble inside the 5 before Jakhi Pusha punched it in from the 1 in the final minute to seal it.

Whale Branch (8-1) will travel to Region 4-1A champion C.E. Murray on Friday. The War Eagles (5-1) beat Branchville 58-36 in the second round.

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