Then came the final 50 seconds of the game. With his team trailing, Hunt returned a kickoff 67 yards for a touchdown and then intercepted a pass deep downfield on the final play to lift his No. 11 Bulldogs to a 20-15 home win.
Woodbridge had taken a 15-14 lead in the AAA Cardinal District matchup with 50 seconds left on a 20-yard field goal by senior Jose Hernandez. Hylton Coach Tony Lilly said his team expected Woodbridge to kick off in Hunt’s direction on the left sideline because the Vikings had directed the ball that way on their previous kickoff and because the Bulldogs’ deep men are game breakers. So that’s where they set their wedge.
Hunt, on the kick return team mainly as a “hands” player, scooped up the ball on the hop and darted upfield, shaking one last attempt at an ankle tackle around the 30-yard line and motoring into the end zone, stunning the Vikings, who seconds earlier had celebrated what they thought might be their game-winning field goal.
Prior to Friday night, Hunt had not fielded a kickoff all season.
“At first, I was going to fall on it,” he said, “but it came right to me. I saw the hole and took off.”
The Bulldogs fussed over Hunt in the postgame huddle, a gesture that seemed to please him as much as his game-winning return.
“It meant the world to me,” he said. “With those last two plays, I really stepped up and made up for my [mistakes].”
Woodbridge started its final possession at its own 40-yard line. Sophomore quarterback Mike Majette completed a pass to senior Jason Eaglin at the Hylton 43. After a spike and an incompletion, Majette lofted a pass downfield that Hunt leaped to grab at around the 10-yard line as time expired.
Woodbridge dominated the first half but led only 12-7. Hylton (7-1, 4-0) was just about as dominant thereafter, retaking the lead on the opening possession of the second half on a 14-yard run by junior quarterback Travon McMillian.
“In the first half, they were throwing the blows and we were taking them,” Lilly said. “We weren’t on the attack. I challenged them to be the aggressor.”
The Vikings recovered three Hylton fumbles in the fourth quarter, two by McMillian, starting possessions at their own 37, the Hylton 14 and their own 37 again. Those takeaways yielded only the field goal, by the left-footed Hernandez, who joined the team midseason. He is the Vikings’ third kicker of the fall.
Woodbridge (5-3, 3-2) indeed was the aggressor early. Twice in the first half on fourth downs at midfield the Vikings went for a first down and were denied. After the first of those, on Hylton’s first possession, McMillian popped through the line for a 43-yard pickup and scored on a two-yard run three plays later.
Duke recruit Evrett Edwards returned the ensuing kickoff 48 yards to the Hylton 39. Junior LeVar Francis carried three times to the one, and Majette punched it in from there. The kick failed, so the Vikings still trailed, 7-6.
Woodbridge went ahead 12-7 late in the first half, when on a double reverse flea-flicker, Majette handed to senior Logan Farrar, who handed to Francis, who tossed it back to Majette, who hit Farrar for a 47-yard catch and run.
Woodbridge totaled 260 yards in the first half. Hylton had not allowed more than 198 in a game this season. The teams’ last four games in the series have been decided by a touchdown or less.