Hilldale’s defense put forth another dominating performance Friday night, celebrating Homecoming with a 40-0 shutout of Checotah.
It got things started with sophomore Jace Walker’s 80-yard interception return for a score. Outside of that, it clamped down on Checotah’s standout junior running back, Dontierre Fisher, holding him to 58 yards on 20 carries after back-to-back 100-yard games against the Hornets.
Hilldale was methodical on offense, scoring four rushing touchdowns and accumulating 196 of its 330 total yards on the ground.
But it was the defense that showed big, following up last week’s 54-0 win over Rogers with another goose egg. The Hornets held the Wildcats to 127 total yards.
“We’re flying around and tackling pretty well, not perfect play, but I think we’re stepping in the right direction,” said Hilldale head coach David Blevins.
Checotah passed midfield twice. The first time, junior quarterback Jake Vernnon, who did not play there in last week’s 30-14 win over Hugo, had just connected on the biggest gain of the night for the Wildcats’ a 34-yard pass which put Checotah at the Hornet 24. Moments later, Walker made a late adjustment on coverage and got the interception in the flat, and behind an escort of his senior brother Dylan Walker, Jaden McWilliams and Darrin Hays, the younger Walker took it to the house.
Hilldale led 7-0 and never looked back.
“A little miscommunication problem on my part, I sat on my side and had to get over on the tight end,” Jace Walker said. “I got it, starting running and Dylan yelled out ‘follow me.’”
Hilldale then made a fourth-and-3 stop in the second quarter with McWilliams applying the initial pressure before Evan Keefe came up with the stop for a loss of five.
Fisher had three carries for more than 10 yards, the longest going for 18, but was met behind the line of scrimmage six times.
“We just did what we practiced all week. We gang tackled, we hit him in the backfield and as soon as one person hit him two more were hitting him,” McWilliams said. “He broke a few but we did a fantastic job gang-tackling him.”
Vernnon was 5-of-13 in his first start.
“A lot of inexperience players on offense and we’re just trying to find the right fit,” said Checotah head coach Zac Ross. “Dontierre ran hard. Hilldale was prepared, give a lot of credit to them. They came out physical, played hard and we just didn’t execute.”
Eric Virgil scored on a 2-yard run on a drive that got extended after Hornet punter Jaxson Whittaker rolled out of formation and found Jace Walker for 8 yards and a first down on a fourth-and-5 play to the Checotah 31.
The older Walker then came up with what looked like a big play, returning a shanked punt 47 yards to paydirt, but an illegal block brought it back. Hilldale would shake that off and with under four minutes to play, Logan Harper took an end around handoff, set, and threw to Brayson Lawson for a 27-yard gain on third-and-10 to the Checotah 44.
Two plays later, Hays scored the first of his two TDs on a 5-yard run. Hays’ second was on a 1-yarder, a play set up by Durossette connecting with Dylan Walker for 35 yards to the Wildcat 30, then hitting Harper on a 30-yard pass.
Durrosette, who finished with 56 yards on four carries, scored on a 25-yard keeper on Hilldale’s first possession of the third quarter.
Virgil’s 3-yard run came on the next drive and ended the scoring. He finished with 77 yards on 18 rushes.
Hilldale will go for a 3-0 start and a non-district sweep when it travels to meet 0-2 Oologah next Friday. Checotah (1-1) hosts Eufaula in the McIntosh County War.
HILLDALE 40, CHECOTAH 0
Checotah 0 0 0 0—0
Hilldale`14 12 14 0—40
HIL-Jace Walker 80 interception return (Jaxson Whittiker kick), 6:20.
HIL-Eric Virgil 2 run (Whittiker kick), 1:47.
HIL-Darrin Hays 5 run (kick failed), 3:14.
HIL-Hays 1 run (kick failed), 1:29.
HIL-Johnnie Durossette 25 run (Whittiker kick), 7:04.
HIL-Virgil 3 run (Whittiker kick), :23.7
First Downs 8 15
Rushes-Yards 38-80 36-196
Passing Yards 47 134
Passes C-A-I 5-13-1 7-13-0
Punts-Avg. 7-27 3-46
Fumbles-Lost 2-0 0-0
Penalties-Yards 8-60 9-95
Rushing: Che, Dontierre Fisher 20-58, Hill, Virgil 18-77 (2 TD).
Passing: Che, Jake Vernnon 5-13-47-1. Hill, Durossette 8-14-113-0.
Receiving: Che, Trenton Dan, 1-34. Hill, Dylan Walker 2-44.