Battle of the Patriots: Hillcrest Runs Past Pike Road in Season Opener
On a pleasant, Friday evening in Tuscaloosa, Ala., the lights shined down on the brand new Hillcrest Patriots football field as the team beat the Pike Road Patriots 28-21 to open its season.
Hillcrest got on the board first with a seven-yard rushing touchdown from running back Jamarian Johnson. On the next drive, the dominant Hillcrest defense held Pike Road to negative four yards and Hillcrest linebacker Kendrick Davis recovered the punt fumble in the end zone to put the Tuscaloosa team up two scores.
Hillcrest quarterback Ethan Crawford went 1-of-4 for 35 yards, 29 rushing yards, and a fumble.
Pike Road quarterback Caleb Foster went 1-of-2 in the first half, mainly handing the ball off to running back Anthony Rogers, who racked up 22 rushing yards, a half-high for the team. Hillcrest held Pike Road to 17 total yards in the half.
Hillcrest received the ball to start the second half, but fumbled it down the field, giving Pike Road the ball inside the 35. Pike Road gets on the board in its opening drive of the second half, thanks to a 28-yard run by running back Marcus Hambrick.
The Pike Road defense looked to have stopped Hillcrest’s drive, but a special teams fumble on Hillcrest’s punt, resulted in a free possession in the red zone for Hillcrest and a four-yard touchdown run by Johnson, his second of the night, giving Hillcrest a two-score cushion.
The Hillcrest defense held Pike Road to a three-and-out but fumbled on its next drive, giving Pike Road the ball back inside the 50-yard line. Running back Anthony Rogers scored on a 47-yard pass to cut the deficit to one score. Pike Road attempted a two-point conversion and missed.
The Pike Road defense held Hillcrest to negative three yards on its next drive and forced the punt. Pike Road quarterback Caleb Foster ran in a one-yard touchdown and a two-point conversion to tie the game.
“There ain't no quit in these guys. They fought back, we tied the ballgame, went for two and tied it and I'm excited. I'm excited. I'm thankful that I'm blessed enough to be their coach. The kids on this team, they got something special about him. I plan on meeting those guys right there again in the playoffs. And that's why I was so happy about us getting to play them tonight,” said Pike Road head coach Ed Rigby.
With a tied game and under two minutes to go, quarterback Ethan Crawford showed what he was made of, leading a 72-yard drive in 1 minute and 38 seconds. Crawford scored the game-winning drive on a three-yard run with 17.9 seconds. Crawford went a perfect 2-of-2 for 12 passing yards, and 27 rushing yards on the drive.
“I really didn't know whether we wanted to play for overtime or trying to get in field goal range and we ran a jet sweep game some, and then we just kept running the same way over and over and over. And thank goodness it worked,” said Hillcrest head coach Jamie Mitchell.
Next week, Hillcrest hosts Armwood Fla., and Pike Road hosts Marist, Ga. Both kickoffs are set for 7 p.m. CST.