For the seventh time this season, the Hylton football coaches will reward their players with doughnuts for posting yet another shutout with a 14-0 home win over Gar-Field in the Virginia AAA Division 6 Northwestern Region semifinals last night.
But for a while it appeared as if turnovers would be the pastry of the day.
The No. 7 Bulldogs (10-1) coughed up the ball twice in their own territory in the first half, but the defense stiffened each time to push the four-time defending region champions into the final for a fifth straight year.
Hylton will face No. 17 Osbourn Park, which defeated visiting Franklin County, 21-15, for the first playoff win in school history. The Yellow Jackets (10-1) get another shot at Hylton, the only team to beat them this year. The Bulldogs won, 49-0, on Sept. 13.
Gar-Field (7-4) picked up 10 first downs, including eight in the first half, but drove as far as Hylton's 15-yard line just once in being blanked by their rivals for the second time this season -- and beaten for a third time. The Bulldogs now have beaten the Indians 10 straight times.
After losing those two fumbles, Hylton senior quarterback Jeff Overton more than made up for his mistakes by setting up the Bulldogs' second touchdown with a 41-yard run. He scored from one yard two plays later. Then, on Gar-Field's final drive, he intercepted a pass near the goal line and returned it to midfield.
A two-way standout also helped Osbourn Park advance.
In the second quarter, senior running back-defensive back Roland Hilliard scored on a 14-yard run six seconds after he caused and recovered a fumble deep in Franklin County territory. He scored again four minutes later on a 14-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Doug Suliga to give the Jackets a 21-6 halftime lead.
"I guess I was feeling it today," said Hilliard, who rushed 31 times for 107 yards. "We all were pretty confident coming into this game and things just went our way. I knew we were going to score that next drive" after the fumble recovery.
Osbourn Park's staunch defense, which like Hylton has seven shutouts this season, intercepted a pass and forced three fumbles.
Still, the Eagles (9-2) made it interesting late in the game. After Osbourn Park took a safety with 50 seconds left, Patrick Preston caught a 38-yard touchdown pass 25 seconds later, but the ensuing onsides kick went out of bounds.