Hylton 24, Stonewall Jackson 7
With no full-time starters returning on Hylton's defense, Bulldogs Coach Lou Sorrentino was eager to see how that unit would do in its season opener against Stonewall Jackson.
On Friday night at Hylton, the Bulldogs did just fine. They held standout running back Chris Garrett to 31 yards on 12 carries, limited the Raiders to 10 first downs, made a goal-line stand and grabbed an interception.
Tailback Courtney Anderson (21 carries, 155 yards) and quarterback Tristen Simmons (three touchdown passes) took care of the offense as Hylton cruised to a 24-7 victory, their eighth straight over Stonewall.
"It feels good," Hylton defensive back Aaron Adusei said. "But we can't rest. There's a lot more to come."
Adusei started at times last season, but he is the only defensive player on the team with that experience. Sorrentino often assigned Adusei to shadow Garrett -- who rushed for 1,369 yards last season -- a tactic that helped the Bulldogs corral him for a one-yard loss on a second-and-goal play at the 1 late in the first quarter.
With Hylton up 10-0, the Raiders also failed to score on third down. On fourth down from the 4, quarterback Ricky Milbourne threw toward Chris Lancaster on a quick slant. But Antonio Smith broke up the play up for the Bulldogs.
The goal-line stand proved critical. Hylton soon seized a 17-0 lead on an 11-yard touchdown pass from Simmons to Marshall Dill just before halftime.
The defensive stand "shows our kids' toughness and tenacity," Sorrentino said. "I was really happy with that."
"After that," Adusei said, "we were really confident they weren't going to score at all."
Stonewall did, though, on an 80-yard run by John Carter on the first play from scrimmage in the second half. The Bulldogs defense tightened again after that play, holding the Raiders to 75 yards for the rest of the game and not allowing them to cross the Hylton 45 again.
Late in the third quarter, Hylton put the game away. After an interception by defensive back A.J. Murray, the Bulldogs drove 43 yards in eight plays. Simmons capped the drive by throwing a 13-yard touchdown pass to Carlos Segarra, who dived to make the catch in the back left corner of the end zone.
Sorrentino said he was pleased to see his defense play so aggressively. Adusei thinks there's more of that to come.
"Everybody's talking us down, saying this is a new defense," Adusei said. "We will surprise everybody."