Photo: Hokes Bluff’s Braydon Hill catches a pass over Central-Florence’s Ethan Looney during the Eagles’ 38-14 win in the first round of the Class 4A state football playoffs on Nov. 9. (Alex Chaney)
By Mike Goodson/Sports Correspondent
Junior running back Darrian Meads (pictured above) and junior quarterback Ashton Gulledge led third-ranked Hokes Bluff to a 38-14 win over Central-Florence (6-5) last Friday (Nov. 9).
Meads rushed for 164 yards on 24 carries and scored two touchdowns, while Gulledge completed 4-of-6 passes for 92 yards and a rushing touchdown.
Hokes Bluff jumped out to a 24-0 halftime lead on the way to the 24-point win.
Hokes Bluff (10-1) visits undefeated and No. 5 North Jackson (11-0) this Friday in Stevenson.
“I thought we played pretty good in the first half,” said Hokes Bluff head coach Mike Robertson. “It was a physical game, and [Central-Florence] started mixing it up on us. Meads had another big night, and our offensive line is playing pretty good right now. It’s going to take that next week.
“I was really proud of our guys. (Assistant coaches) Brian Sexton, Jake Ball, Taylor Morgan and Jeff Noah, have worked their butts off this year and have done a super job.”
Hokes Bluff took the lead for good at 7:32 of the first quarter on Meads’ 20-yard TD run. Ethan Whitcomb pushed through the first of his five PATs on the night. Later in the quarter, Gulldege took it in from 13 yards out for a 14-0 advantage.
The Eagle defense put six points on the scoreboard when Braydon Hill ran back an interception 20 yards for a touchdown on the next Wildcat possession.
Whitcomb’s 31-yard field goal at 5:53 of the second quarter sent the hots into halftime with a 24-point advantage.
Hokes Bluff took the second half kickoff and found pay dirt once again. The Eagles moved 37 yards in five plays, with Meads scoring on a 17-yard run with 9:33 to go in the third period. Connor Faulkner added another score on a 2-yard run with 2:18 to go in the third. That brought the score to 38-0.
The Wildcats (6-5) managed a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns against Hokes Bluff reserves.
Hokes Bluff finished with 291 yards of offense, while Central-Florence had 250.
Hill Caught four passes for 92 yards. Will Clemons led the way defensively with 6.5 tackles, followed by Jackson Fielding and Carson Eubanks with six each.
“Defensively, we played pretty well and basically shut them out,” said Robertson. “We played pretty sound. They were throwing everything but the kitchen sink at us, every trick play and formation they could do, but I thought our guys reacted pretty well.”