The win was the sixth in a row in the series for the fourth-ranked Hilltoppers (3-0, 1-0 Region 1-6A) who handed coach Stacy Carter his 63rd career victory on the Hill, equaling the 63 wins earned at his alma mater, Sullivan South.
The Indians rolled to a pair of long, methodical touchdown drives on their first two possessions to take a 14-0 lead late in the first quarter.
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The Indians used 14 plays to navigate 71 yards in 6 minutes, 43 seconds, capped by a Keyo Taylor dive from a yard out. After Matt Diminick intercepted Science Hill quarterback Jaylan Adams on the Hilltoppers’ fourth play from scrimmage, the Indians marched 89 yards in seven plays, scoring on a Nic Bristol 33-yard jaunt.
“We ran the ball very well, go up two touchdowns,” said D-B coach Graham Clark. “First quarter played out pretty well.”
With 31.1 seconds to go in the opening stanza, the Tribe had run 21 plays, gained 160 yards and possessed the ball for 10:06. The ’Toppers had 18 yards on four plays and a turnover.
“They stayed patient, used the entire play clock,” Carter said. “No penalties, no mistakes. Pretty much perfection the whole two first drives.”
So much so, Carter gambled on fourth down in his own territory on a Science Hill drive in the second quarter. After Adams galloped in from 5 yards out and the ’Toppers denied a fourth-down conversion attempt by the Indians, Carter went for it on fourth-and-2 from his own 42.
Ahmik Watterson bulled for the first down and the ’Toppers went on to score again, this time on 3-yard Adams keeper.
“The way D-B was playing and having success moving the football, it had us to make a big fourth-down call to change the momentum,” Carter said.
The game changed dramatically after another failed fourth-down conversion attempt by D-B. With 33 seconds left to go in the half, Adams ran a delayed quarterback draw up the middle 66 yards for the go-ahead touchdown.
“We had a couple of good shots but didn’t get the first down picked up and he goes all the way with it,” Clark said. “I thought that was the biggest play of the game, the quarterback draw right before half.”
Adams had a sparkling 27-yard run on third-and-10 on Science Hill’s drive.
“I thought we had a shot at tackling him one of those, the other one we didn’t touch him,” Clark said.
Despite not completing a pass in the first half, Adams dominated the second quarter, finishing with 113 yards and three touchdowns rushing in the period alone.
“I’m not going to call him Jaylan anymore, I’m going to call him Mr. Adams,” Clark said. “He’s a special player and he made two plays that got us behind the 8-ball. You know he plays for them and not for us, and that’s about the gist of it.”
The late first-half touchdown also forced the Indians to alter their ball-control style to begin the second half.
“We didn’t start playing fast after that, but we had to speed up just a little bit,” Clark said.
The Tribe got the defensive stop it needed to start the second half, but the offense picked up 2 yards on fourth-and-3 at the Science Hill 27 and for the third time in the game, the ’Toppers answered a failed fourth-down conversion with a touchdown.
On a fourth-and-3 for Science Hill, Aundre Butler ripped off a 22-yard touchdown run on a jet sweep around left end to extend the advantage to 28-14.
Another remarkable Adams play capped the scoring in the fourth. Escaping the grasp of a Tribe rusher on third-and-4 from D-B’s 10, Adams retreated to the 25 before firing a laser to a crossing Butler in the end zone.
Adams was 0-for-4 passing in the first half but completed 6 of 9 in the second half for 72 yards. Each completion went to Butler.
“Jaylan missed some people he usually doesn’t miss,” Carter noted. “It was gutsy to keep doing what he could do. He missed the easy ones but made the hard one like that one to Aundre.”
Adams also finished with 181 of Science Hill’s 367 yards rushing. Watterson added 85 yards on six attempts and Drew Morrison ran 14 times for 46 tough yards.
After the 160-yard first quarter, the Indians gained 173 over the final three stanzas. Ian Hicks ran 14 times for 84 yards, Taylor nine times for 52 yards and Bristol compiled 58 yards on five attempts.
“They were road-grading us a little bit early,” Carter said. “Our defense hung in there until their line got tired a little bit and then we got some stops.
“I really like their running backs. They are tough and run hard. They did about everything they could do right early; we just had some players start making plays.”
D-B quarterback Lendon Redwine completed 15 of 36 passes for 150 yards. Caleb Whetsell had nine receptions for 102 yards.
“Credit our kids for fighting,” Clark said. “Not their fault we didn’t score more than 14 points. I’ve got to call plays on third and fourth down to help them make another play or two.
“We’ll go back to work and we’ll keep getting better.”