HUEYTOWN, Alabama -- The #4 Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa Patriots went on the road and defeated #10 Hueytown 55-45 in a big Class 6A, Region 4 game at Hueytown Stadium on Thursday night. The Patriots win is the first over the Gophers since 2013 and is one game they had on the calendar since last season.
Quarterbacks Ethan Crawford (Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa) and Earl Woods (Hueytown) kept making big plays for their teams, and the game kept going back and forth like a boxing title match. Crawford ended the night completing 10-of-16 passes for 177 yards and four touchdowns with 173 yards on 18 carries and two touchdowns. Woods had 336 total yards and five touchdowns on the night.
"We had a lot of fight tonight," said Patriots QB Crawford. "Every Friday, we will bring it till the horn goes off. This shows how much we are working. We put a lot in the off-season, and coming into this game, we knew what we wanted. We marked this game on the calendar from last season. This game will not be forgotten because they have got us every year since I've been playing them. We had to do this my last year going out. I told Earl, you better come prepared, but man, he is so dynamic. He can bring everything to the table. Punch for punch, blow for blow. I know he will give our defense a stern test of what they need for the playoffs down the road. Big shout out to Hueytown for a good game."
There were a lot of points in this shootout. With 8:52 left in the first quarter, Crawford found Bryson Kimbrough on a 20-yard touchdown pass play, and the Patriots took an early 7-0 lead. Great pass and catch in the middle of the field for a Patriots score. Hillcrest came back again early in the game when with 5:31 left in the first quarter, running back Ja'Marian Johnson ran 38-yards for a score, and Hillcrest took a 13-0 lead.
Here comes Hueytown; with 10:41 left in the second quarter, Woods scored on a 1-yard run, and the Gophers cut the lead down to 13-6. With 7:53 left in the second quarter, running back Elijia Hudson scored on an 8-yard touchdown run. Woods scored the two-point conversion, and the Gophers led 14-13.
Hillcrest (4-0, 2-0) came right back after the Hueytown score. With 6:07 left in half, Crawford hit Chamar Moore on a 17-yard touchdown pass play, and Hillcrest took back the lead at 20-14. Again, here comes Hueytown. With 2:12 left in half, Woods scored on a 10-yard run up the middle of the defense. Woods scored on the two-point conversion, and the Gophers took back a 22-20 lead late in the first half.
With only :14 seconds in half, Crawford found Jamarcus Prince in the middle of the end zone for a touchdown, and the Patriots took a 28-22 lead into the half. "These guys deserve all the credit in the world for running through the region these past years," said Patriots head coach Jamie Mitchell. "To be the best, you have to beat the best. We knew in places we played well but giving up 40, and we need to go back to the drawing board."
Starting the second half, Hueytown made a critical mistake of not covering a long kickoff and the Patriots jumping on the ball deep inside the Gophers' territory. A few plays later, Crawford scored on a 1-yard run, and Hillcrest took a 34-22 lead. With 6:08 left in the third quarter, the Gophers made a comeback as Woods scored on a 6-yard touchdown run. With the score, Hillcrest led 34-28.
With 3:53 left in the third quarter, Crawford found Prince on a short pass that rolled over a Gophers defensive player while not hitting the ground, and the referees continued the play, and Prince scored on a 41-yard touchdown reception. With the score, Hillcrest led 42-28 late in the third quarter. Again though, here comes Hueytown. With 5:20 left in the fourth quarter, Woods scored on a 5-yard touchdown run to cut the Patriots' lead down to 40-36.
Needing another big play due to the Hueytown score, here comes the Patriots and Crawford. The Southern Mississippi commitment ripped off an 82-yard touchdown run late in the game, and the Patriots went up 47-36 with only 4:57 left. "There are no words you can say about Ethan," added Mitchell. "If there is a better quarterback in this state, please show them to me. I don't know what else the guy can do. He can run and throw and intercepted the game's last play. His heart and the person are better than the player he is. There couldn't be a better example of a Patriot, and I love that guy."
With 1:41 left in the game, Hueytown scored again. This time Woods converted a long touchdown pass to wide receiver DeAndre Franklin for a 42-yard touchdown. With the score, Hillcrest led 47-42, and an onside kick was coming. On the onside kick, the ball bounced straight up to Preston Clendenin, and he raced to the end zone for a Patriots score to close the game out. With the touchdown, Hillcrest led 54-44. As Hueytown was driving, Crawford entered the game as a defensive back and picked off the last Hueytown pass of the game.
Next for both teams, Hillcrest will host Brookwood while Hueytown will travel to Bessemer City.