MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Prep Sports

September 28, 2013

Hilldale stings again: Hornets pull away to take down Jay

Hilldale’s run game worked again —  especially in the first half when everything else seemed flat.

Everything else caught up after the break.

Woods had 101 of his 142 yards rushing before intermission, scoring two of his three touchdowns. Quarterback Chandler Puckett and receiver Bradley Campbell combined on TD passes of 57 and 37 yards in the second half, sparked by a renewed defensive vigor and the Hornets cruised past the Jay Bulldogs 36-14 to open District 3A-7 play Friday night at Hornet Field.

Hilldale moved to 3-1 and 1-0 in league. Jay is now 2-2, 0-1.

Woods, who had his first career 100-yard effort last week against Beggs with 150 yards on 29 carries, was the workhorse again. He had eight carries on a 13-play, 68-yard opening march, scoring from 5 yards out with 6:10 to go in the opening quarter. His second came on a 15-play, 75-yard drive started by his own recovery of a Jay fumble. He had 12 carries, an 11-yarder to start it and a 2-yarder to finish it. Hilldale led 15-0.

“The line worked good again, like last week. We’ve just got to keep going like we are,” said Woods, who had his first start after being called upon a week ago when Seth Reheard injured an ankle. And he proved that the ground game is in capable hands until Reheard’s healthy.

Jay quarterback Brandon Weaver lived up to the scouting reports as a predominant passer, completing 20 of 31 passes for 174 yards. He hit Kongmong Vang for 34 yards and a first-and-goal at the Hilldale 8. Brooks Carroll’s 4-yard run cut the margin to 15-7 with :38.9 left until halftime.

Hilldale almost made the most of what time was left. Puckett hit Dakota Holmes for 15 and again on the next play in the corner of the end zone but mere feet out of bounds. A 12-yard burst by Woods and a timeout had Hilldale at the 24, then Puckett found Bradley Campbell at the 1 with 1.1 seconds on the clock, leading to another Hornets’ timeout.

Woods didn’t get the call. Hilldale coach Chad Kirkhart went with a two-tight lineup with Bradley Campbell in shotgun. It was a formation that worked last week. Jay would have none of it, stopping Campbell for no gain.

Woods wasn’t surprised he didn’t get it. And Kirkhart stayed with his gut.

“It worked last week, it didn’t this week,” he said.

With a mulligan, would he have gone to his running back instead of his top receiver?

“No, I’d probably run it in the other direction,” he said.

He had better luck at the half as he and defensive coordinator Ryan Keenom talked to the defense about picking up the intensity. They took it in.

The Bulldogs took the ball from the 20 to open the second half and drove to the Hilldale 12. There, its cornerback Dylan Duncan killed the drive with an interception. On the ensuing Jay drive, the Bulldogs moved from midfield to the Hilldale 18. On a second and 11, Duncan had a key hit to break up a pass, the hit knocking Vang out of the game, and defensive end Justin Sanders had a sack for a loss of seven.

Then it was Holmes’ turn to make a pick, returning it 28 yards to the Hornets’ 41. From there, Puckett tossed to Campbell just past midfield. Campbell turned it into a 57-yard TD with 2:00 on the clock, making it 21-7.

“Coaches told us to take better angles on our tackling and when we get a shot, take it,” said Duncan. “I took it. I liked it better than the interception because I love to hit.”

“We just knew we had to play a lot better the second half,” Holmes said.

A strange fourth-and-2 gamble by Weaver, who kept for Jay from his 28, was snuffed out by defensive end C.J. Hunnicutt. Woods answered it with a 23-yard touchdown run.

Puckett found Campbell for 37 yards with 7:09 left which made it 36-7.

“We seemed, I don’t know, kind of flat the first half,” Kirkhart said. “We were flying around with a lot more intensity on defense the second half.”

“We should have been up two touchdowns but offensively we came back and played well. We’ll take it and move to next week.”

Hilldale hosts Inola for homecoming next Friday.

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