MADISON – Redemption.
After a miserable 2013 season that saw the Scott Skyhawks pick up just three wins, a large crowd watched the home team come from behind to defeat Herbert Hoover, 28-27, in the 2014 season-opener Friday. Enthusiasm for the new season has been running high among Skyhawk fans and the final outcome on a balmy August night kept things rolling.
Redemption came in more ways than one as Scott also earned revenge for a damaging loss last year at Falling Rock. In that one, Hoover trailed by 15 points at the half only to come back and dominate the second phase for a 40-35 victory. This year was the same story – in reverse.
This time, it was the Huskies who led by 13 at the half, only to face defeat in the end.
A defensive adjustment at halftime and the fact that the oppressive heat and humidity “simply wore them down more than it did us,” were credited by Scott Head Coach Shane Griffith for the win.
Griffith said he “was surprised by all of that. I didn’t expect them to be as tired in the second half but they clearly were.”
Playing under the theme, “Let’s Move Mountains,” the Skyhawks were greeted by enthusiastic fans as they took the field. A small contingent of Hoover stalwarts sat in the visitors’ bleachers.
Scott won the toss and elected to receive to get things started. The opening drive began at the 37-yard-line. But 19 seconds later, on the second play of the game, Hoover’s Tyler Harper intercepted the pass to gain the early momentum. Operating from the HH 47, the Huskies began their first offensive series. Inside eight minutes, Shaun Dotson carried the to a first down at the 13. Colton Thomas then worked his way to the one-foot mark, stopped by Logan Webb. With 7:50 showing, Thomas carried it in for the touchdown and it was quickly 6-0. The extra-point kick by Brett Strickland made it 7-0.
But Scott did not take it lying down. They methodically worked the ball downfield over the next four minutes culminating in a touchdown pass from senior quarterback Bo Jeffrey to Webb from two yards out. A running play failed on the extra-points and it was 7-6 with 3:16 on the clock.
Hoover was not done, either, as it looked for awhile like the last team with the ball might win this one. With just over a minute left in the quarter, Hoover worked the ball to a first-and-goal at the nine. This time, Thomas again took it in for the Huskies to make it 13-6 with 59.7 seconds flashing. In what would become an important miss, the extra-point kick sailed wide right.
A fumbled snap at the 10:11 mark set up the next Skyhawk score. When the ball settled, Scott had it at the Hoover 26-yard-line. After three plays brought up a third and three, Jeffrey connected with Cody Harvey for a 17-yard catch and run touchdown. Hunter Bradley’s two-point conversion made put Scott up, 14-13.
Hoover appeared to take control for the remainder of the half. They marched quickly down field in a little over four minutes to see quarterback Tyler Americo score on a two-yard run and it was 19-14. This time, Strickland’s kick was true to make it 20-14 with 5:42 left in the half.
Scott drove the next possession to the Hoover five but a fumble with 3:24 remaining gave the ball back to the Huskies. It didn’t take long for Colton Thomas to set up a first-and-goal at the eight. With 58.6 seconds remaining, Americo went in from the one to take the air out of the Scott balloon. The kick was again true and Hoover took a 27-14 lead into the halftime locker room.
The defensive switch adding a lineman may have been a key for Griffith as Hoover simply shut down in the second half. The Huskies were frustrated on their first offensive series after lining up for a punt at fourth and eight. Punter Cole Weese tucked the ball and appeared to run for a first down but the play was called back. The next time, Weese put his foot into the ball but Scott brought it to their own 48.
At 8:54, Bradley brought Scott to a first-and-goal at the eight. A minute-and-a-half later, Jeffrey went in from a foot out to cut the margin to 27-20. The Huskies brought the ball back to their 37 on the ensuing kick.
The home crowd went wild as they watched the Skyhawks jump on a Hoover fumble to take over the ball at the 17 with 7:09 blinking on the clock. Following a Husky timeout to regroup, Scott appeared to score on a pass from Jeffrey but it was ruled incomplete by officials. Then, the Scott quarterback was sacked on fourth down, turning the all over to the visitors with 5:38 to show.
After trading possessions, Scott took the lead to stay with 11:03 on the game clock. Elijah Price ran it in from 14 yards out to start the Hawk celebration. Bradley’s two-point conversion made it
That was all the scoring for the night, as Hoover never really threatened and Scott controlled the ball for the final minutes.
Griffith called the game a “huge win for us.” He said his team tried to exploit Hoover’s fatigue by running multiple sweeps. “They had trouble with that all night,” he said. Griffith said he believes “Hoover is a good football team this year. They just ran out of steam.”
Hoover Head Coach Tim Meyer agreed. “We had some problems there with cramps and it took a toll on us,” he said. “We just ran out of gas down the stretch.”
Leg cramps were a factor on the humid night, as several players suffered on and off the field. Scott running back Garrett Roberts was carted from the field early in the game, suffering from heat-related symptoms.
Bradley led Scott on the ground, with 82 yards on 12 carries. Jeffrey completed six-of-ten passes for 69 yards. Thomas topped Hoover with 78 yards on 12 totes. Americo was five-of-12 passing for 109 yards.
Total offense was 255 for Scott and 253 for the visiting team from Kanawha County.
This week, Scott travels to Hamlin to take on Lincoln County. Kickoff for the contest with the Class AAA doormats will be 7:30 p.m., Friday. LCHS lost to Point Pleasant, 55-0, to start the season last week.