The Hillwood offense delivered a prolific performance in a 66-0 win over Glencliff last week.
On Thursday night, it was the Hilltopper defense and special teams that put on a show to help Hillwood beat Hunters Lane 35-22 on the road. The victory gave Hillwood (2-0) he inside track for a playoff berth in Region 6-5A.
After a slow start offensively, Debo Kinnard returned a kickoff for a touchdown in the second quarter. Then the Hillwood special teams came up with a fumble recovery on the ensuing kickoff at the Hunters Lane 29-yard line.
Hillwood’s defense never allowed the Warriors to find a rhythm. The Toppers forced two turnovers, numerous punts and several turnovers on downs.
“We struggled at first,” said Hillwood coach Tom Moore said. “We started rotating some guys trying to keep the defense fresh and get more speed on the field, and it paid off.”
Short fields were a common theme for Hillwood. This included four possessions that began inside the Hunters Lane 30-yard line. The offense did its part by scoring 35 points.
After last week’s five-touchdown performance, junior quarterback Cameron Davis added two more scores through the air to Avion Brown, who leads the team with four receiving touchdowns this season.
The Hilltopper offense also got contributions from fullback Cesare Randazzo and Kinnard, who added touchdowns on the ground.
Even after the victory, Moore gave praise to Hunters Lane, which beat Hillwood 27-24 last year to edge the Hilltoppers for the No. 4 seed in Region 6-5A.
“They’ve got a good team,” he said. “They are very physical. The coach (Preston Scott) has done a great job. They are organized and they play hard.”
Hunters Lane took an early 14-0 lead in the first quarter with a 6:29-minute scoring drive on its first possession and a 60-yard interception return for a touchdown by De’ontay Ramey.
Everything seemed to go wrong from there.
Hunters Lane did not score again until the 1:02 mark in the fourth quarter. The Warriors’ turnovers led to 14 Hillwood points.
Junior QB A’shun Motley ran for both of Hunters Lane’s offensive touchdowns.
“Not being able to throw the ball really hurt us, because (Hillwood) focused on the run,” said Scott. “Our strength is the run, so they stepped up as far as stuffing the box (with) stunts. Our guys couldn’t handle it up front. We have to get better (passing), and we knew that coming in.”
Scott said the Warriors (1-2) will try to adjust before next week’s region contest against Glencliff (0-3). Hillwood will travel to Cheatham County (0-6).
“We’ve got to get back to the basics, picking up blitzes and blockers.” Scott said. “Somehow, we have to be able to throw the ball, because teams are going to stack the box against us. We just have to step up and make plays.”