By Mark Carpenter –
It was Senior Night on Friday, Oct. 28 at Greyhound Stadium as the Hounds football program welcomed the Hillcrest Rams to town for the 2016 regular season finale, at least for the Hounds. The two teams came into the game with much different goals on the line, with the Hounds looking to pick up a win that would carry over some momentum into next season, while the Rams were looking for a win that might propel them into the OHSAA playoffs.
With upset on their minds, the Hounds battled the talented Rams to a 12-12 tie at the half, but the second half spelled doom as Hillcrest scored 30 unanswered points to leave with a 42-12, one that did qualify them for the playoffs.
Hillcrest got on the board first with just 45 seconds left in the first quarter when strong-armed quarterback Bennie Allen found receiver Kevin Reid behind the defense and hit him with a perfect strike from 40 yards out for the touchdown that gave the Rams a 6-0 lead after one.
The Hounds muffed the ensuing kickoff and the Rams recovered but the Hounds’ defense made a goal-line stand with Jacob Stamper making a big stop on fourth down to force the Rams to turn the ball over on downs. The manchester offense went three and out and Hillcrest took over in great field position at the Greyhound 15. After a scoring pass was nullified by penalty, the Rams got a second Allen TD pass when he found Ladd Dubose over the middle for a 25-yard score and a 12-0 Hillcrest advantage with 6:42 left in the first half.
That lead was short-lived, however, as the Hounds scored two touchdowns in a span of nine seconds to tie the score. After a 71-yard, eight-play drive, fueled by a long pass completion from quarterback Marcus Neeley to running back James Arias, the home team got on the board when Neeley found Nick Huron in the back of the end zone and Huron got his feet down inbounds for the touchdown that made it 12-6. The Rams muffed the ensuing kickoff and it was recovered by Manchester’s Luke Thompson, and one play later the game was all even when Neeley found receiver Bryan Young down the left sideline for a 62-yard scoring pass and the two teams went to the halftime break deadlocked at 12 apiece.
The momentum that the Hounds had built going into the intermission quickly disappeared when the Rams scored on their first two possessions of the third quarter and then turned a Manchester turnover into another score. A seven-play, 55 -yard drive, culminated with Allen again hitting Reid with along touchdown pass, this time from 36 yards out to make it 18-12. After a Greyhound offense three-and-out, the Rams proceeded to march 43 yards and got a two-yard scoring run from Dubose. A two-point conversion run by Reid put the Rams up 26-12. Hillcrest added to that advantage when they picked off a Neeley pass and returned it all the way for a score that left them with a 34-12 lead after three quarters.
The icing on the cake in the fourth quarter for the Rams came in the form of another two-yard touchdown run by Dubose. A two-point conversion pass was successful and the Rams were on their way to the playoffs after knocking off the Greyhounds by a final score of 42-12.
The win improved Hillcrest to 8-2 on the season while a young and rebuilding Greyhound squad finishes 2016 at 1-9.
Before the fame, the school honored their senior players and cheerleaders. Senior football players included Jase Thatcher, Bryan Young, Ryan Henderson, Patrick Baldwin, Gavin Baldwin, and Nick Huron.
Senior cheerleaders recognized were: Shyanne Tucker, Cassie Campbell, Miranda Schiltz, Kylie Lucas, Hannah Grimes, Summer Grundy, and Justin Franklin.
Hillcrest 6 6 22 8 –42
MHS 0 12 0 0 –12