HILLCREST EARNS 32-14 VICTORY OVER TUSCALOOSA COUNTY
With his team only leading by three late in the third quarter, Hillcrest quarterback Ethan Crawford dropped back near his own 15-yard line and lofted a pass over the outstretched hand of a Tuscaloosa County defensive back and into the arms of wide receiver Andre Siler. With no player standing between him and the end zone, Siler sprinted to the rest of the way for a 79-yard touchdown as the Hillcrest student section erupted in a frenzy.
The miraculous touchdown helped Hillcrest pull away for a 32-14 win over cross-town rival Tuscaloosa County on Friday night.
In his first official start, Crawford threw for over 150 yards and two touchdowns in an impressive performance.
“I really thought he played well,” Hillcrest coach Sam Adams said. “It wasn’t necessarily a really flashy kind of game. We ran the ball well and a lot of guys played really well around him, which has got to happen for us to win. I thought he did show some flashes, he made some plays with his feet … extended some plays. I thought he played with a lot of poise.”
The freshman quarterback’s night ended in victory, but it got off to a rocky start.
After Hillcrest’s De’Anthony Green returned the opening kickoff for an electrifying touchdown, Crawford threw an interception on his team’s next drive. The turnover led to a touchdown for Tuscaloosa County when quarterback Brax Garrison connected with Cedric Williams in the back corner of the end zone for a 25-yard score.
It didn’t take long for the Patriots to respond, scoring on a 17-yard scamper by running back Kyah Moore just minutes later. Neither team could find the end zone again for the rest of the half, but Hillcrest’s Seth Martin booted a 42-yard kick through the uprights to give the Patriots a 17-7 lead at the break.
Tuscaloosa County’s offense was revitalized in the third quarter by its powerful running game. The Tigers steamrolled down the field and scored on a 2-yard run by Phil Jackson to pull within three on its second drive of the half. However, Jackson’s touchdown was the last time the Wildcats managed able to score. Tuscaloosa County consistently moved the ball down the field, usually behind powerful running by Damien Taylor.
“[Taylor’s] a good player,” Tuscaloosa County coach Jay Todd said. “Phenomenal work ethic, phenomenal drive – he’s just a phenomenal talent. How key is he? I’d say he is the key that unlocks the game … without him we’re locked out. He’s pretty important to us.”
But red-zone woes plagued the Wildcats, who turned it over multiple times after they crossed into Hillcrest’s side of the field.
Adams was proud of his defense for clamping down when it needed to most.
“Anytime you hold a team to 14, you’ve got a really good chance to win,” Adams said. “Was it as pretty as we would like all the time? The answer is no on that, and we got plenty of things we’ve got to clean up, we’ve got to tackle better, really make them earn things all the way down the field, but overall if you only give up 14, that’s what matters the most. We can win a lot of games if we only hold people to 14.”
Hillcrest furthered its lead on a 10-yard scoring pass from Crawford to Tyler Smith in the fourth quarter.
The Patriots (1-1) will host Hueytown next Friday night while Tuscaloosa County (0-2) will travel to Mountain Brook.