The game that looked so eye-popping on the schedule turned out to be an eyesore for defending Maryland 3A state champion Friendly and a welcome sight for Virginia AAA Division 6 state champion Hylton last night. The No. 2 Bulldogs flaunted their returning talent against the depleted Patriots in a 30-6 home win in a rare meeting between interstate title-holders.
Hylton senior quarterback Kenny Irby attempted just seven passes, but three of them went for touchdowns to three receivers. In addition, three Hylton running backs finished with close to 50 rushing yards apiece as the Bulldogs won their 18th straight.
Neither team entered the game at the level it left off at last season. Hylton, coming off a bye week, narrowly pulled out its season opener at Petersburg. No. 20 Friendly, which returned just two starters, was still smarting from a 35-0 loss last week to High Point.
Hylton stuck to the ground much of the game, with Quintin Beltran, Karibi DeDe and D.J. Walton combining for 155 yards on 22 carries. But when Irby dropped back to pass, he made the most of his opportunities, hitting Alex Mason on a 28-yard fade, Walton on a 19-yard swing pass and Drew Feldman on a 20-yard toss into the end zone. The Bulldogs also benefited from 85 yards worth of penalties.
"They had man-to-man [coverage], so if you have a little bit of speed, you're always going to beat somebody," said Irby, who completed just 1 of 6 passes at Petersburg, in large part because of weak protection.
"They play with four secondary people, and if they have one of those four up on the line, then we have got to throw the ball," Hylton Coach Bill Brown said. "It's a numbers thing there. We just try to make them keep four back so the run would be a little more effective."
Irby got the time to throw last night, even though the Bulldogs were playing without all-Cardinal District lineman Billy Reyers, who is out with a knee injury.
Hylton muffed two punts in the first half to give Friendly prime opportunities to score, but the Patriots turned the ball over on downs each time. The first time they moved from the Hylton 26-yard line to the 10, and the second time they stalled at the Hylton 35, where they had taken possession.
Friendly also drove to the Hylton 15 at the end of the first half but again turned the ball over on downs. On fourth and three, Hylton junior Jason Kaminski and sophomore Stephen Ball recorded a crunching sack to halt the drive.
Hylton was able to weather its own special teams mistakes while at the same time exploiting a Friendly special teams breakdown. Trying to collect a bounced snap, Patriots senior punter Brandon Crumpler inadvertently touched a knee to the ground, giving the Bulldogs possession--their first of the game--at the Friendly 21. Two plays later, Walton darted up the middle for a 12-yard score. (In the second half, Crumpler was taken away with what was believed to be a separated shoulder, Friendly Coach George Earley said).
Hylton's second touchdown capped a speedy trip down the field--94 yards in seven plays, aided by a late hit penalty. Beltran broke off a 39-yard run to start the possession, which ended when Irby tossed a 28-yard touchdown pass to Mason early in the second quarter. Mason fully extended his arms but scarcely had to leave his feet to haul in the throw while running toward the left corner of the end zone.
Yet another Hylton game-breaker set up the Bulldogs' final score of the first half. DeDe rattled off 19 yards on a third-and-17 draw play to sustain a drive capped by a 29-yard field goal by senior Andy Wilfong with 2 minutes 9 seconds remaining in the half.