By Chris McCarthy/Editor
For the first time in 36 months, Hokes Bluff senior football players can say that their final season included a victory over their longtime Etowah County rivals.
Sparked by a defense that pitched a shutout over the final 43 minutes and allowed just 45 yards after halftime, the Eagles posted first win over Glencoe in three years with a 21-6 win at HBHS. Hokes Bluff, which had dropped seven of the past eight games to the Yellow Jackets, improved to 30-42-1 overall in the series.
Junior quarterback Landon Johnson scored all three of the Eagles’ touchdowns, two coming in the first half and the other early in the fourth quarter off an interception by Ashton Gulledge.
“I though that our kids hung in there during the first quarter, which was the key to the game,” said Hokes Bluff head coach Mike Robertson. “They just kept playing football, and once we got a little momentum, we were able to make some plays. It’s a big win that keeps our momentum going, and I’m real proud of our guys.”
Johnson finished with 165 combined yards. He rushed eight times for 51 yards while completing 5-of-10 passes for 110 yards. Darrian Meads ran for 78 yards on 22 attempts, while Fisher Simmons added 28 yards on eight carries.
After Glencoe’s eight-play, 50-yard opening drive resulted in Austin Bush’s 1-yard touchdown run at 6:57 of the first quarter, seven of the remaining eight Yellow Jacket possessions ended in five punts and two interceptions. Glencoe also was penalized six times for 55 yards.
“We’re just not very good offensively right now, and that’s my fault,” said Glencoe head coach Rusty Davis. “We’ve got to find an identity and find out who we are and what we need to be. Our defense has played every week, and we pretty much shut down the run tonight.
“We have to help our defense out, and not going three-and-out and three-and out doesn’t help. [Defensive coordinator] Charlie [Robertson] does and great job, and we’re not doing our part on the offensive side of the ball right now. We just shoot ourselves in the foot with a penalty here and a misread there. We had things we thought we could do and just didn’t read it right, and again, that’s my fault. We’ve just got to find some answers.”
The hosts got on the scoreboard with their third drive of the game. The nine-play, 74-yard possession was highlighted by Johnson’s 40-yard pass to Braydon Hill, a reception that set the Eagles up with a first down and goal. Johnson soon scored from three yards out, and Andrew Colley’s PAT made it 7-6 at 7:29 of the second period.
Following a Yellow Jacket punt, Johnson once more went deep, this time to Colley for 35 yards and a first down at the GHS 25-yard line. Six plays later, Johnson ran it in from a yard out. Colley tacked on the PAT providing Hokes Bluff with a 14-6 advantage 23 seconds before halftime.
“They didn’t get anything deep on us in the secondary, and we had a pretty good four-man rush,” said Robertson. “We wanted to keep [Holbrooks] in the pocket, which we didn’t do early in the game. It feels good when you can play defense and sit on it a little bit with field position.”
Hill’s interception on Glencoe’s second series of the third quarter did not result in points, but Gulledge’s pick resulted in Johnson’s 1-yard TD keeper six seconds into the final quarter.
The Yellow Jackets went three-and-out on their final two possessions, allowing Hokes Bluff to keep the ball on the ground and drain the game clock.
Austin Bush finished with 55 yards on 11 carries. Holbrooks rushed eight times for 30 yards and was 5-for-11 in passing for 16 yards. Micah Sizemore and T.J. Woelfel each had two catches.
Noah Huff led Glencoe in tackles with 11, followed by Bradley Scott with nine and Austin Bush, Aaron Bush and Coleman Morris with six each.
“It’s always a hard-fought game between Hokes Bluff and Glencoe, and I’ve been on both ends of the score,” said Robertson. “The team that’s supposed to win doesn’t always win. “I’ve got great seniors and a great coaching staff, and they just did a super job tonight.”
Both teams return to region play this week. Hokes Bluff hosts Oneonta in Class 4A, Region 5 action, while Glencoe has a home game against Class 3A, Region 5 rival Pleasant Valley.