PHENIX CITY, Alabama - After trailing by seven points at the half, the #2 Hoover Bucs outscored #4 Central-Phenix City 24-7 to get their first win of the season. Hoover won 45-35 at Garrison-Harrison Stadium on Friday night and kept Central in check for most of the second half.
Hoover didn't take their first lead of the game until midway through the third quarter but kept it close at 28-21 at the half to make some necessary adjustments. Last season, Central played with a two quarterback system but first-year Central Head coach Patrick Nix didn't show any two quarterbacks at his time with Pinson Valley. The Red Devils came in with Caleb Nix to start the game, then after two series Trey Miles came in at quarterback and it seemed to rattle the Bucs defense in the first half as Central scored four touchdowns in the half. Miles was part of a two quarterback system last year.
The Bucs preparation for Central was very little due to the game was just announced on Tuesday of this week but both teams were grateful to have a game on Friday night. Central only had three home games and Hoover was willing to travel just to have a game. "Both quarterbacks are very good and we thought that they might play," said Bucs Head coach Josh Niblett. "We figured we would see them both and when you only have two days to prepare it can be tough, but early on the year you have to make it about you. It can't be about your opponent, it is about how we are going to play. So whatever we have done well over the last four weeks, we are not going to change it now. I thought we played with good tempo on offense."
Central (0-1) scored first in the game on a 8 play 80-yard drive on a Nix 17-yard touchdown pass to Jackson Meeks. With 9:57 left in the first quarter, the Red Devils led 7-0. After a Hoover punt, Central drove again on a 7-play 75-yard touchdown drive as Nix called his own number around the right end for a 19-yard touchdown run. With 4:33 left in the first quarter, the Red Devils led 14-0.
With 3:41 left in the first quarter, Hoover scored on a Josh Lundy to RJ Hamilton 11-yard touchdown pass. With the score, the Bucs cut the Red Devils lead to 14-7. With 11:42 left in the second quarter, Lundy struck again but this time to Joseph Lundy in the left corner of the end zone for a 22-yard touchdown pass. With the score, the game was tied at 14-14.
Central came right back and scored on a Miles to Meeks 21-yard touchdown pass play for the Red Devils. With 9:43 left in the first half, Central took the lead back at 21-14 on a 6-play 71-yard drive. With 7:57 left in the second quarter, Hoover scored on a 6-play 67-yard drive on a Lundy to Hamilton 26-yard touchdown pass play. With the Hoover score the game was tied again at 21-21. Hamilton had 8 receptions for 223 yards and two touchdowns.
With 1:02 left in the half, Central scored on a Meeks 30-yard touchdown pass play from Nix and Central took the 28-21 halftime lead, their last lead of the night. Meeks had 233 yards on 13 receptions and three touchdowns.
In the second half it was Hoover that turned the game around. With 10:35 left in the third quarter, the Bucs went on a 5-play, 61-yard drive out of halftime to tie the game at 28. Dylan Pauley scored on a 5-yard touchdown run for the Bucs and the game was tied for the third time in the game.
With 5:11 left in the third quarter, Hoover took the lead for good when sophomore running back Ahamari Williams scored on a 1-yard touchdown run. With the score, the Bucs led 35-28. "We had to throw the ball in the first half the way they were playing us," said Bucs QB Lundy. "In the second half, we made some adjustments and felt like we could run the ball more and the offensive line did a great job of getting a good push." Lundy completed 15-of-28 passing for 311 yards and three touchdowns.
With 2:59 left in the game, Dylan Betts-Pauley scores on a 25-yard touchdown around the left end for a Bucs score. With the touchdown, Hoover led 45-28. With 1:08 left in the game, Nix scored on a 2-yard run and that made the final score 45-35 Hoover. Nix completed 16-of-32 passing for 240 yards with three touchdowns with 70 yards on 7 carries and a touchdown.
"We needed to give the defense a little shot in the arm in the second half and I think we did that," added Niblett. "The defense cut loose and brought great pressure in the second half."
Up next for both teams, Hoover will host Bessemer City while Central will travel to Eufaula.