When his team trailed Stonewall Jackson by 22 points late in the first half Friday, there was one thing Hylton quarterback Travon McMillian just wasn’t concerned about: the lights-out play of his Raiders’ counterpart — Greg Stroman.
“I don’t play against quarterbacks,” said McMillian. “I play against defenses. So I wasn’t worried about him.”
With that singular focus, the Virginia Tech recruit led the comeback of his career, accounting for four touchdowns while leading the Bulldogs to five unanswered scores and a 36-22 victory.
It was a complete 180 from a first quarter that saw the Bulldogs (2-0, 2-0 Cardinal District) fumble on their first two possessions. The second gaffe — when McMillian dropped the ball on a designed run to the left — was scooped up by Stonewall Jackson’s Richard Burkes for the game’s first touchdown.
Stroman rushed for Stonewall’s next two touchdowns, second-quarter scampers of 32 and 29 yards. Also a Virginia Tech recruit, Stroman finished the night with 117 yards on 21 carries.
“We spotted them all of their points,” McMillian said. “We just need to learn how to play all four quarters and not come out flat in the first half.”
The hard-nosed running of junior Codie Bowers helped the Bulldogs to shake off the lethargic start.
Bowers — a fullback — is usually relegated to lead blocking duties for McMillian. But he wasn’t about to shy away from primetime carries.
On his first attempt, he rumbled up the middle for 16 yards for Hylton’s first touchdown of the night.
“I run hard when I do get the ball,” said Bowers, who finished with 51 yards on five carries.
McMillian found more running room in the third quarter. His five-yard touchdown with 7:16 to play in the third proved the game-winner.
Hylton Coach Tony Lilly cited his team’s conditioning as a factor in the second half against the Raiders (1-1, 1-1).
“Our kids are in really good shape,” Lilly said. “We’ve talked about playing our best ball in the fourth quarter, and it showed tonight.”
Fittingly, the cherry on McMillian’s evening came on a fourth-down snap late in the final stanza.
The senior captain rolled right on a designed boot. When the linebacker clamped down, McMillian cut across the grain, scrambling left and heaving a 16-yard pass across his body to sophomore wide receiver Yannis Nguetta for the score.
Stroman’s chance to incite a comeback bid was cut short. He exited with 7:23 left in the fourth quarter after suffering an apparent leg injury and didn’t return.