GRETNA — Cameron Mabins sped to the edge to wait for a pass from quarterback Ryder Brooks late in the first quarter Friday night, when the senior felt that all-too-familiar twinge of a cramp.
Mabins fought through the pain. He caught the pass, turned and sped to the end zone, avoiding tackles the entire time for a 30-yard touchdown reception that gave the Hawks an early lead over rival William Campbell.
"Caught a cramp on it, so I don't know how I got there, but I got to it," Mabins said. "Going through adversity, that's how I be."
Gretna had gone 21 days without playing a game before suiting up here Friday, but the Hawks didn't miss a beat, getting strong performances from Mabins and Brooks in a 38-14 victory over the Generals at Lester Bond Field.
Mabins finished with 96 receiving yards and 59 rushing yards, while Brooks threw for a career-high 205 yards for Gretna (2-2).
Brooks, a sophomore, went 6 for 14 with two touchdown passes and a 21-yard scoring run.
"I just had great playmakers to catch the ball and get open in the open field and just make moves on defenders to make them miss and get yards," Brooks said.
His 83-yard touchdown pass to Matthew Roman with 4:27 left in the first half gave Gretna an 18-6 lead heading into halftime. Gretna was at the 17-yard line when Brooks spied Roman lurking on the outer right edge, with two William Campbell defensive backs laying off him. Roman reeled it in and around the 28-yard line and then sprinted down the right sideline, leading two Campbell defenders the entire way.
"I knew Roman had [his defender] beat when he took that inside step and then went back out," Brooks said. "So I just threw it up and let him make a play on the ball."
Gretna put up 438 yards of total offense to William Campbell's 242. The Generals (1-3) committed three turnovers off fumbles, and Gretna turned two of those errors into touchdowns in the first half. The Hawks then poured on 20 points in the third quarter to blow the game open.
"We didn't deserve to win," Generals coach Danny Broggin said. "We got beat by a team that was more prepared, a team that was hungry and a team that deserved to win. My kids were real selfish and they showed it in the school building all week long. We did not deserve to win, and it showed up."
Broggin used the loss as a lesson in the post-game huddle.
"I'm trying to teach these kids about life," he added. "We had kids that wanted to make selfish decisions Monday through Thursday and they came out here this was the result, and I'm glad it happened. Hopefully we can grow up from it."
The Generals were led by sophomore running back Xavier Daye, who rushed for 99 yards as part of a ground attack that ate up 203 yards on the night. JaCoriyous Graves scored a 6-yard touchdown at the 9:58 mark of the second quarter that tied the game at 6, but Gretna responded a little more than 2 minutes later with a 7-yard run by Haden Moon, who also punched in a 2-yard touchdown in the third quarter.
Moon's first score jumpstarted a stretch in which the Hawks reeled off 32 straight points. Meanwhile, mistakes killed the Generals. After their first drive of the second half stalled, Gretna scored three plays later off a 21-yard up-the-gut touchdown run by LaDonta Davis. The Hawks then recovered an onside kick and scored four plays after that on a 19-yard run by Brooks.
"Mature up," Generals senior defensive end and fullback Payton Mason said of his young squad when asked how his team needs to improve.
The victory was the first in the Gretna-William Campbell rivalry for Hawks head coach Shaun Miller.
"It was just exciting for the kids to get back and play on Friday night," he said. A COVID protocol by Chatham caused Gretna to miss one game, and the Hawks had a bye as well. This was their first time on the gridiron since a Sept. 10 loss to Magna Vista. "The kids have been working really hard, so I was just proud of them."
Gretna decided at halftime it wanted to turn things up a notch.
"It's very special," Mabins said of the win. "We're coming off two big Ls back to back, and we're coming off two, three weeks of not playing, so we were just glad to get back on the field and do our thing."