Photo: Hokes Bluff’s Braydon Hill (10) gains yardage after a catch during the Eagles’ 41-21 victory over Glencoe last Friday (Sept. 29) at Glencoe. (Gary Wells)
By Chris McCarthy, Publisher/Editor
Darrian Meads’ No. 6 jersey number was never more appropriate than on Sept. 29 at Glencoe.
The Hokes Bluff sophomore running back scored six touchdowns to lead the No. 9 Eagles (4-1, 2-1) to a 41-21 victory over their Etowah County rivals in the 74th meeting of the two schools.
Meads, who finished with 170 yards on 25 carries, was at his best after the host Yellow Jackets (2-3, 0-2) pulled within 28-14 with just under four minutes left in the third quarter. From that point on, he gashed the Glencoe defense for 102 yards and two touchdowns to put the game away and narrow the series gap for Hokes Bluff to 31-42-1.
“I think Darrian must have broken a million tackles tonight,” said Hokes Bluff head coach Mike Robertson. “If he gets to the second level, he’s going to make somebody pay the price. He’s also such a really good kid who is unselfish and keeps his mouth shut. I though he showed some poise and maturity tonight.”
Robertson also singled out senior quarterback Landon Johnson, who rushed eight times for 49 yards and completed 3 of 6 passes for 51 yards.
“Landon [Johnson] played a great game. He didn’t complete a lot of passes but he got us in the right places. He’s playing great football for us right now.”
Braydon Hill caught all three of Johnson’s passes.
Levi Taliaferro and Jackson Evans each finished with nine tackles for the Eagles, followed by Carson Eubanks and Ashton Gulledge with nine each.
For the Yellow Jackets, halfback Cade Alred rushed for 120 yards on 22 carries, while quarterback Jacob Amberson ran 18 times for 78 yards. Amberson was 9 for 17 in passing for 58 yards.
Noah Huff had 11 tackles, followed by Bradley Scott with 10, Nathan Kuykendall with seven and Tyler Palomares and Andrew Massaro with six each.
“I think that we’re a better football team than what we showed tonight,” said Glencoe head coach Rusty Davis. “Our youth and inexperience hurt us at times, but I like how our kids fought and battled all night. Our defense created a couple of turnovers that we didn’t take advantage of. But Coach Rob has three special players over there, and he uses them well.”
Meads made his presence felt on the game’s opening kickoff, which he took 81 yards to the Eagle 2-yard line. Johnson took it on the next play. Dane Driskell then kicked the first of his four extra points on the night, providing the visitors with a 7-0 lead 22 seconds into the game.
Two of Johnson’s three completions came on the next Eagle drive. Passes of 18 and 20 yards to Hill helped Hokes Bluff get to the Yellow Jacket 24, but the drive was snuffed out on an interception.
The hosts proceeded to go three-and-out, however, and two plays into the next Eagle possession, Meads took it to the house from 40 yards out for a 14-0 advantage with 1:27 remaining in the first quarter.
Later on, a short punt by Glencoe combined with a 15-yard penalty gave Hokes Bluff a short field to work with at the Yellow Jacket 15. Meads polished off the ensuing three-play drive with a two-yard touchdown run at 11:50 of the second period.
Glencoe responded with a 16-play, 73-yards series that included a successful fourth down conversion attempt from the Eagle 16. Amberson went 7 for 8 for 55 yards on the drive, his final pass completion being a three-yard touchdown strike to Alred. Katie Smith pushed through the PAT, drawing Glencoe within 20-7 with five minutes left in the first half.
Following an exchange of punts, Hokes Bluff drove deep inside Yellow Jacket territory, but on third and goal form the 5, Ethan Foreman picked off a pass keep the hosts within 13 points at halftime.
“We should have been up more at halftime, but overall I thought our kids played extremely hard,” said Robertson. “We haven’t won over here in a few years, so this is a big win for us.”
Any momentum that the hosts gained from Foreman’s pick vanished four plays into the second half when Eubanks intercepted a pass. Three plays later, Meads reached the end zone from two yards out, and Johnson’s two-point conversion run put the Eagles ahead 28-7.
The Yellow Jackets found a groove on the next drive with on designed runs for Amberson. The senior quarterback gained 36 yards on nine carries, and his lone pass completion was a five-yard touchdown pass to Alred at 9:45 of the third quarter. With Smith’s extra point, Glencoe pulled within 28-14.
Once again, however, Meads dashed cold water on a possible Yellow Jacket rally with a 34-yard TD scamper with 1:52 left in the third. A nine-yard touchdown run by Alred midway through the fourth narrowed the gap to 35-21, but by then Meads actually was gaining steam, and he capped his stellar performance with a four-yard touchdown run with a 1:30 left on the game clock.
“We’ve just got to go back to work and stay positive,” said Davis. “I really feel that we have the potential to make the playoffs. It’s out there for us; we just have find a way to get there.”
Both teams resume region play this week. Hokes Bluff visits Oneonta, while Glencoe travels to Pleasant Valley.
“I think that we had the better players and that the better team won tonight,” said Robertson. “But Coach Davis did a tremendous job of keeping his players together after a couple of tough losses. I tell our kids that I don’t care who scores or who blocks or who tackles; as long as Hokes Bluff is doing it, it’s good. That’s the way I approach every game.”