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November 2, 2013

Hilldale dominates: Hornets blank Sequoyah 57-0

TAHLEQUAH – Hilldale linebacker Jake Adams admitted his team was aware of their postseason fate when the Hornets took the field for the second half here at Thompson Field on Friday night.

With Locust Grove in command against Lincoln Christian and on its way to a District 3A-7-clinching 80-41 win, the Hornets went out and with methodical ball-control work, put the period on a rout of their own with a 57-0 blowout of Sequoyah's Indians.

"We heard the score and that's what we figured would happen," Adams said. "We're still in the playoffs and we just came back out played hard, and got the shutout."

Adams had a fumble recovery that led to a Hornets touchdown in what became a 31-point second quarter onslaught. Interceptions by Kaden Weaver and Dakota Holmes gave the defense three turnovers.

But give the offense equal credit. Quarterback Chandler Puckett ran for one touchdown and threw for two of his four touchdowns on the night as Hilldale (7-2, 4-1) raised a 6-0 first quarter lead to 37-0 at the half. His third touchdown pass to Bradley Campbell early on the first series of the third quarter was his fourth TD pass of the night.

And as Puckett would say, the dagger, both emotionally and numerically, came after Holmes' interception on Sequoyah's best drive since their opening series of the game.

Indians running back Justin Hooper had three consecutive runs for double-digit yards (21, 13 and 13) to give the Indians (4-5, 2-3) a first-and-goal at the 2. Holmes stepped into the path of a Zach Parish delivery in the flat, then Hilldale embarked on a 14-play, length-of-the-field excursion.

Campbell, who had the biggest gainer of the drive on a 33-yard reception to the Sequoyah 41, converted on a fourth-and-5 stop route when Puckett hit him square in the numbers for a pickup of 20 to the Indians' 23-yard line.

Seth Reheard, who was stopped for a loss of 1 on the ensuing play to end the third quarter, opened the fourth quarter with a blast up the middle for 24 yards, making it 51-0.

A 10-play, 52-yard march capped it and helped limit Sequoyah to 13 second-half plays to Hilldale's 33 after the break.

But the hole in the heart was already there.

"That was a dagger for sure," Puckett said of the 98-yard drive. "We wanted to come out and put some more points up but I got to say that was impressive and it chewed up clock."

So was Campbell, who finished with eight catches for 149 yards. and the three TDs.

"We just know," Puckett said, referring to the chemistry between he and his primary receiver the last two years. "Same with him. When the ball is coming in his direction, he's got a nose for it. He's the kind of guy you know you can find on a fourth-down situation. If you get it close, he's going to make something of it."

Puckett rushed 10 times for 100 yards and was 15-of-21 for 181 yards and the four TDs.  A couple of interceptions in the final minutes of the half were about the only flaws to his or the Hornets' effort.

"Except for that, we probably couldn't have played any better," Hilldale coach Chad Kirkhart said. "And that's the way you should be playing at this time of the year."

Even the Hornets' special teams got into the act, setting up their first score. Sequoyah had moved from its 15 to midfield but after a holding penalty slowed the drive, the Indians' Nick Kingfisher saw his punt blocked by Justin Sanders. Six plays later, it was Puckett to Campbell for 17 yards and a 6-0 lead as the pass for two points failed.

Kingfisher's luck continued that way as he dropped a pass from quarterback Zach Parish just past midfield on the Indians' second possession. Adams' recovery ended the next drive, then Parish had a wide open Caisen Green behind coverage at the Hilldale 35 on the next series but overthrew him slightly The same thing ended the next drive.

"When you get beat this bad you can point to so many things," said Sequoyah coach Shane Richardson. "Give them credit though. They're going to go far. I just don't think this was indicative of both of us. We've just got to learn how to overcome bad things happening to us."

Hilldale had a 25-6 edge in first downs and a 441-105 edge in total yards and is now set to play the third-place team from District 3A-8 in two weeks. The Hornets, locked in as the district runner-up, close with winless Westville at home next Friday.

Sequoyah still has a shot at the postseason but the Indians have to beat Lincoln Christian on the road next week by five points or more and could depending on the margin could jump into third on the three-way tiebreaker with Jay

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