Toppers Lose Shoutout to Creek Wood
By Craig Ladd
In a game that featured a 200-yard passer and rusher, 698 yards total offense and 35 points in the fourth quarter, Hillwood came up on the short end of the score losing at Creek Wood, 36-34.
The game began as Hillwood coach Kurt Page scripted. The Toppers used a potent ground attack to march down the field 65 yards on 11 plays in 4:54 that was capped off by quarterback Hale Page’s 1-yard touchdown run.
“Our players executed the first drive to perfection. It was important for us to set the tone early and score on our first possession, especially being on the road,” said Page, in his second year at Hillwood.
The Red Hawks would answer with a 41-yard scoring strike from quarterback Devin Higgins to wide receiver Braxton Horner on third and 25 to tie the score.
Hale Page would put the Hilltoppers back on top with another 1-yard TD run, which would end the scoring for the first half with Hillwood leading, 14-7.
It was the best first half overall of the year for the Hilltoppers as they out-gained Creek Wood 223-92 and ran 39 total plays to just 14 for the Red Hawks.
Of the 223 yards of offense, 165 would be rushing yards led by Thaddeus Clay with 61 followed by Antonio Walton with 58 and Lamont Jordan with 38.
The Hillwood defense also limited talented Creek Wood running back Quinton Poole to just six carries for 22 yards.
Unfortunately for the Hilltoppers, the second half would not prove to be the same.
Creek Wood cracked the scoreboard first as Poole scored on a 5-yard run to tie the game at 14.
Hillwood quickly regained the lead just a 1:55 later as Page found Kenneth Redd on a 22-yard scoring strike to put the Toppers back up by a touchdown.
The fourth quarter would begin with the Red Hawks scoring on a 20-yard run by Higgins and the subsequent two-point conversion gave Creek Wood its first lead of the night, 22-21.
Poole scored his second TD of the night on an 18-yard run to extend the Creek Wood lead to 29-21.
As the Hillwood offense began to sputter, the defense came up with a huge play as Thaddeus Clay intercepted an attempted screen pass and raced 25 yards to paydirt.
Hillwood would go for two points to try and tie the game, but Page’s pass attempt to Kendrick Gordon fell incomplete and the Toppers would trail, 29-27.
Creek Wood immediately took the ensuing kickoff and behind the rushing exploits of Poole, raced 61 yards down field scoring on a Higgins 1-yard run to put the Red Hawks ahead, 36-27.
Hillwood came right back as Page connected with Gordon on a 38-yard scoring strike with a 1:14 remaining and with the extra point, cut the margin to 36-34.
Kicker Liam Dougherty’s onside kick would be recovered by Creek Wood, which allowed the Red Hawks to run out the clock for the final margin.
Hillwood’s inability to stop Poole in the second half proved to be the difference in the game as he rushed for 207 yards, with 185 coming in the second half.
“Poole is an outstanding back with terrific size, Page said. “He just imposed his will in the second half,” Page added.
Hillwood finished the night with 353 yards total offense as Hale Page completed 16 of his 31 passes for 204 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions.
Page now has passed for 1,183 yards this season and 13 TDs.
Wide receiver Kenneth Redd had another banner night receiving with nine receptions for 115 yards. The last two games, Redd has 14 catches for 268 yards and two touchdowns. For the season, the senior has 28 receptions for 502 yards and five TDs.
The run game that produced 165 yards in the first half was limited to minus-16 in the second half.
“They put an extra man in the box in the second half, which is difficult to run against and forced us to pass the ball,” said Page.
Defensively, Walton and Cameron Porter posted seven tackles each to lead the team. T.J. Spain and Clay each had interceptions with the latter being returned 25 yards for a touchdown.
Gordon had a pass breakup and recovered a pair of fumbles and Daniel Bonner had a pass breakup and forced a fumble.
The loss drops the Hilltoppers record to 3-4 on the season and 1-2 in Region 6-4A.
Hillwood will have the week off but resume region play in two weeks when they travel to region-leading Lipscomb Academy.