* Hylton 31, Oakton 9
As a reserve in a veteran Hylton defensive backfield last season, Delondre Simpson might have felt like he was in the wrong place at the wrong time. The senior, now a starter, was anything but out of position last night. He intercepted two passes and returned both for touchdowns to pace the No. 2 Bulldogs to a 31-9 homecoming win over Oakton.
Simpson's 45-yard pickoff return down the left sideline in the second quarter and 95-yarder off a deflection in the fourth quarter came on a night when Hylton's offense was not as prolific as in recent weeks. Even so, the Bulldogs (7-0) rattled off their 23rd consecutive win headed into their Cardinal District home showdown next week with Gar-Field.
Though the interceptions were Simpson's first of the season, he knew what to do once he snared them.
"Pretty much when I intercepted, I didn't see anything but grass and white lines, so I just went off to the races with it," he said.
"The type of coverage we run, we don't see the quarterback a lot," Hylton Coach Bill Brown said. "We run with the receivers, so we don't make a lot of interceptions, but we don't give up a lot of completions, either."
Simpson's first pickoff could not have come at a better time. The Bulldogs were clinging to a 7-0 lead when he stepped in front of senior receiver Matt Kirkpatrick for a perfectly timed snag in front of the Hylton bench. He raced for the touchdown with 5:19 left in the first half.
"I knew we were getting good pressure from our defensive ends, and I played the out route pretty well," Simpson said.
"That was a tremendous boost to the whole team," Brown said. "We're used to seeing some points up there by that point in the game. He did everything textbook. He kept his hips down and made a great break on the ball at a great time in the game for us. We had shot ourselves in the foot enough on offense that we were getting a little frustrated."
Hylton scored on its first possession by driving at will 77 yards on eight plays, with the help of 15 of the Cougars' 100 penalty yards. The Bulldogs never even needed a third down. Senior Quintin Beltran squirted through a hole in the left side for a 14-yard touchdown run.
While Simpson was "off to the races," as he put it, the Cougars (3-4) were more plodding. Senior quarterback Tom Ridley, mostly on option keepers, carried 24 times for 99 yards to lead a 271-yard rushing attack that could not find the end zone until the game's final minute. Oakton often penetrated Hylton territory but could not come up with the clutch offensive play on fourth down other than a successful fake punt that sustained a drive.
After Hylton took the 7-0 lead, Oakton responded with a drive of its own and would have reached the Hylton 23-yard line if not for a double penalty (encroachment and a personal foul) that killed the possession. The Cougars moved the ball on their next series as well, when junior Scott Turner, son of Redskins Coach Norv Turner, took the snap on a fake punt and gained the necessary yardage. Oakton later turned the ball over on downs for the first of three times in the game.
The Cougars sacked senior quarterback Kenny Irby to force a fumble at midfield, but penalties again cost the Cougars, with a 15-yard run by junior Edward Hodge negated by a motion infraction.
With 1:02 to play in the first half, senior Andy Wilfong kicked a 36-yard field goal to bump the lead to 17-0.
To start the second half, Oakton drove from its own 26 to first and goal at the 7 but had to settle for a 25-yard field goal by junior Nick Hoefer.
Hylton increased the lead when junior D.J. Walton capped a 72-yard drive midway through the fourth quarter, and Simpson picked off a pass deflected by senior Melvin Butler and returned it for the final touchdown.
Some Hylton fans might have fretted about the Cougars coming to town. It was Oakton that had snapped the Bulldogs' boys soccer team's 27-game unbeaten streak last April.
Hylton is the fourth ranked team to beat the Cougars. They also have lost to No. 12 Robinson, No. 13 Lake Braddock and No. 16 Centreville.
Meanwhile, Hylton keeps rolling.
"We're about where we hoped we'd be," Brown said.
H--Beltran 14 run (Wilfong kick)
H--Simpson 45 interception return (Wilfong kick)
H--Wilfong 36 FG
O--Hoefer 25 FG
H--Walton 7 run (Wilfong kick)
H--Simpson 95 interception return (Wilfong kick)
O--Prentice 4 run (kick blocked)
RUSHING: Oakton: Ridley 24-99, Hodge 13-63, Turner 1-10, Hackley-Hough 1-(-1), Prentice 7-56, Rector 5-44; Hylton: Walton 8-46, Kaminski 5-20, Beltran 8-52, Brooks 1-7, Irby 2-(-19), DeDe 2-1, Harrison 1-1.
PASSING: Oakton: Ridley 4-15-2 23; Hylton: Irby 6-13-0 57.
RECEIVING: Oakton: Hackley-Hough 1-6, Hodge 1-5, Miller 1-7, Chin 1-5; Hylton: Brooks 3-26, Feldman 1-16, Simpson 1-11, DeDe 1-4.