It would be difficult to choose which one of senior Kenny Irby's limbs best served No. 2 Hylton last night in the Bulldogs' 20-0 home win over No. 16 Gar-Field in a Virginia AAA Northwestern Region Division 6 semifinal.
Irby threw for 50 yards, scrambled for crucial gains and alternately boomed and pooched punts that either helped pin the Indians or set up a touchdown drive in the Bulldogs' 27th consecutive win.
The dominating victory--Hylton gained 17 first downs and allowed four, thanks in part to three interceptions--contrasted with the teams' tight regular season game of a few weeks ago. In that game, the Bulldogs rallied for 10 points in the fourth quarter to force overtime, then eventually won on an extra-point kick.
This time, Hylton Coach Bill Brown said, his team was better prepared, and some reshuffling in the backfield worked to the Bulldogs' advantage in what was a rematch of last year's region finalists.
"History will tell you when we play somebody twice, we do better the second time," Brown said. "It really helps us to get a real feel of what they do. I don't think any of the players or me thought coming in [to the first meeting] that Gar-Field was as good as they are."
Hylton will play North Stafford (10-1) next week for the Division 6 Northwestern Region crown. North Stafford defeated GW-Danville, 23-21, yesterday in the other semifinal.
Last night, Hylton (11-0) limited Gar-Field's Atkinson brothers, Jamar and Larry, to 37 yards on 18 carries. The duo had gained almost 1,900 yards during the regular season. In addition, the Bulldogs added their own backfield wrinkle by using sophomore linebacker-wide receiver Ahmad Brooks at fullback and senior Chris Fields, who had injured his ankle on his first carry of the season and had been used sparingly since, at halfback.
A 35-yard run by Fields set up the second touchdown (by Brooks), and Brooks picked up 31 yards on nine carries, a deceptively valuable performance. Junior D.J. Walton rushed for 94 yards and scored the final touchdown, with 18 seconds left.
"We moved [Brooks] to fullback to give us another punch, and he certainly did that," said Brown, whose offense played without its second-leading rusher, Quintin Beltran, who is out with an ankle injury. "He's a distraction. He runs the ball a couple of times and gets the eyes on him . . .
"It was [a switch] I wasn't smart enough to do earlier, and the season didn't run out before the light came on for me," added Brown, a 1970 Gar-Field graduate.