HATLEY – Hatley used the dual threat ground game of tailback Nick Washington and quarterbcak Markhel Hunt, who had a hand in all five touchdowns, and a strong overall defensive effort to grab another win in the “H-Game” rivalry against Hamilton on Friday night.
The Tigers rode a 20-0 halftime advantage to a 35-7 win, their fifth straight win over their rival Lions.
“It feels amazing to get this win. We have worked so hard Monday through Thursday to come out here and show everybody what we’ve been doing,” said Washington, who rushed for 153 yards and two touchdowns. “It’s a pride thing, and it’s amazing to come out here and beat one of our rivals. We want to win the county, and we have Smithville next week.”
Hatley came out clicking on its opening drive, marching 61 yards behind the legs of Washington and Hunt to take a 7-0 lead on Hunt’s 9-yard QB keeper.
The Tigers’ defense forced a three-and-out, and a good punt return by Micah Turner set them up with key field position. Hunt completed the only pass of the game he would throw, a 30-yard scoring strike to Keller Wren to extend the advantage to 14-0 after Luke Moffett’s extra point.
“You work all summer, and when the game finally gets here, there’s so much put into it. We talk about being the best version of us and playing against us, and I felt like we competed at a high level and were physical,” Hatley coach Ken Adams said. “Our offensive line did a great job, and all of our backs ran it well. Markhel did a great job running the offense. It was a great team win, but the best thing is did we play to our expectations, and I felt like we came out and played well.”
The Lions found a little bit of momentum when Peyton Flanery recovered a muffed punt, putting them near midfield. B.J. Jones ripped off a 22-yard run, but the drive came to an end on a Heyden Parker tackle in the backfield on fourth down. Parker finished with 14 tackles, six for loss.
“Our defense played well. Heyden Parker had a great game, and our linebackers played well overall,” Adams said. “If our linebackers have a good game, then that means our tackles and our ends are doing a great job. There are some things we have to work on and will continue to work on. The penalties, we can’t do that, and we had the turnovers on the two punts.”
Hatley took over on downs at their own 33-yard line, and penalties threatened to stall the drive before Washington broke free for a big 59-yard touchdown run.
“We were having problems because the linebackers were right in my face, so we bumped them over to tackle over which shifts the line down and opens it up,” Washington said. “We got good blocks, and I could just see that I could drive a truck through it. The next thing you know, everything clicks.”
The Lions had a promising drive after that, led by Jones and Ty Hall, but ran out of time in the second quarter.
The Tigers extended their lead on their first drive of the third quarter on a 14-yard scoring run by Washington.
Hatley’s defense came up with a stop after that, but Flanery had another big play on special teams, recovering a fumble on the ensuing punt and taking it 30 yards to the house for the Lions’ lone touchdown.
“Peyton stepped in and made two great plays on special teams, and he also had a big run back on kickoff,” Hamilton coach Wade Pierce said. “He had a huge night on special teams for us.”
Hunt iced the win with a 34-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter.
“It feels good to be 1-0 as a starting quarterback,” Hunt said. “We have worked so hard, and Mondays through Thursdays are most important. Our offensive line has worked really hard in practice, and they did really good tonight.”
Washington led the way with 153 yards on 12 carries, while Hunt added 108 yards on eight carries. For Hamilton, Jones finished with 73 yards.
“We’re disappointed that we lost, but I thought there were definitely some things we had to build on. B.J. had some great runs, and Ty Hall had some great runs. We have to learn to trust our blocks a little better,” Pierce said. “Defensively, we have to learn to adjust a little bit more, and that’s on us as coaches some and also on the players for reaching some too. Hatley is a good football team, and we knew going in they would be big and physical. I thought for the most part we competed, and there were times that our lack of depth got to us. I think overall there’s a lot to build off of. First game, and there were several players that stood out that made some big runs, good blocks and big tackles.”
The Tigers have another rivalry game this Friday, traveling to Smithville and looking to break up the Seminoles’ seven-game winning streak in the rivalry.
“Next week is another rivalry week. It’s a big week but every week is a big week,” Adams said. “We have to put in a lot of work Monday through Thursday to be ready for Friday, and if you do that, you give yourself a chance to be successful.”
Hamilton hosts its first home game against J.Z. George.
“JZ George is going to be a good ball team, and we know they will have athletes all over the field. I think it’s a game we can compete in,” Pierce said. “I told the kids that a few minutes ago that we think about this one tonight, and the good Lord willing, tomorrow the sun comes up and we forget about it, come in on Monday, forget it and get better and look to open up at home against JZ George.”