Hillwood Can't Hold Lead Against Gallatin
By Craig Ladd
For the second straight game, Hillwood scored on its opening possession only to have the opponent tally 42 unanswered points. This time it was region foe Gallatin, as the Green Wave defended home turf in knocking off the Hilltoppers, 42-6.
Once again a big play on special teams ignited the initial scoring drive for Hillwood. Two weeks ago against Clarksville, it was an 82-yard kickoff return by Trevon Wade. This week it was Hillwood coach Kurt Page electing to attempt an onside kick on the opening kickoff. Kicker Donny Ha perfectly squibbed the kick to the left side of the Gallatin formation and Cymitrius Addison recovered. Addison also would aid the scoring drive with a 42-yard run and eventually cap it off with a 2-yard TD run. Ha was wide right on the extra point attempt and with 11:02 remaining in the first quarter, the Toppers led 6-0.
“We felt the onside kick was a great way to start the game. It was terrific execution by Donny and our cover squad,” said Page.
The Green Wave quickly answered as running back Ladarius Stewart scored from two- yards out and with kicker Austin Wright’s extra point, Gallatin led 7-6.
The Green Wave would tack on another touchdown in the first quarter on a 1-yard run by Jalen Porter, who proceeded to score again in the second quarter on a 4-yard run. Stewart followed with his second touchdown of the first half on a 22-yard gallop to push the Gallatin lead to 28-6 at the half.
Stewart would score the last of his three-touchdown performance in the third quarter on a 34-yard run and running back Spencer Briggs would end the scoring for the game with a 50-yard TD run in the final quarter.
Offensively for Hillwood the game would mark several team and individual bests for the season. The Hilltoppers passing game set a season-high for yardage as Hale Page and Zion Tate combined to pass for 206 yards. Page would enjoy his most accurate passing performance of the season completing 12 of his 22 throws for 160 yards. Tate connected on five of his 10 passes for 46 yards.
The ground game would also produce some individual highs for 2017 with Addison’s 70 yards rushing and 42-yard run. “Our offensive line was the most consistent it has been all season in opening up running lanes. We worked last week in practice on being more efficient and consistent. It showed as Cymitrius had some nice holes to run through,” said the third-year coach at Hillwood.
Sophomore wide receiver TJ Spain enjoyed his best game of the season with four catches for 64 yards, including a season-best 44-yard reception. Fellow classmate James Gallaway also corralled four receptions for 46 yards, both season-bests.
“TJ and James both had very good practices last week. For young guys they have learned quickly that hard work in practice brings results on Friday nights,” said Page.
Linebacker Daniel Bonner continued his torrid pace posting his third-straight double-digit tackling performance with 11 stops, including a tackle for loss and a sack. Bonner now has a total of 45 tackles this season with six for loss and a sack. Out of state transfer TyVay Wine, has continued to flourish since his move to the defensive line and finished the night with six tackles and a pair of quarterback hurries.
“TyVay is laser-focused on being better daily in everything he does. He has been a tremendous addition to our team,” Page said.
It’s homecoming week for the Toppers as they take on non-region foe Cheatham County.
“Cheatham County has won three games in a row and exploded for 52 points against Harpeth last Friday night. We will have a tall order trying to slow them down,” said Page.