HAMPTON -- Hampton chose the right Lane to get an easy victory over Unicoi County on Friday night at J.C. Campbell Stadium.
Senior quarterback Lane Smith completed 9 of 13 passes for 192 yards and three touchdowns, and rushed for two more touchdowns to lead Hampton (2-1) to a 33-8 non-conference win over the Blue Devils.
It was the Bulldogs’ eighth straight win in the rivalry and their 11th win over Unicoi County in the last 12 tries.
Smith was at the forefront of the attack using spot-on accuracy to hit favorite receiver Mark Ailport five times for 152 yards and two scores.
“Mark runs great routes,” Smith said. “In practice, we practice those every day from 45 minutes to an hour. He’s got great hands, pretty good speed. He played really well tonight.”
The passing game complemented a strong running game which the Bulldogs piled up 240 yards on 44 carries. B.J. Taylor led the way with 16 rushes for 129 yards, while Smith had 14 carries for 47 yards.
“It was one of those nights where everything worked pretty good,” Hampton head coach Mike Lunsford said after his team racked up 432 yards of total offense. “We hit on a lot of things. We caught them blitzing a couple of times and hurt them, but the kids made the plays.
“Some kids, like Jacob Smith, it was the first pass ever throwed to him and he made a big catch. The kids who ran the ball, ran extremely hard. They made plays, broke tackles and on the other side, we played defense.”
The Blue Devils (2-2) showed life early, taking the game’s opening drive from their own-25 to the Hampton-6 before the drive stalled. A turnover at the Hampton 22 on their next drive turned the tide clearly in the Bulldogs’ favor.
“We just couldn’t finish drives,” Unicoi County head coach Jerad Huskins said. “We had running lanes and Hunter Abbott ran the ball really hard. We just could not finish drives to save our lives. When your offense isn’t scoring, defensively it puts you in a bind, especially against a Hampton team as explosive as this one is.”
The Bulldogs went 94 yards on their first possession with the largest chunk coming on a 58-yard pass play from Smith to Ailport. Two plays after the long completion, Smith hit Tristan Robinson for an eight-yard touchdown pass.
Smith accounted for the second touchdown with an 18-yard run to the left sideline. It came with just 55 seconds left in the half and Hampton took the 14-0 lead into the intermission.
On the opening drive of the second half, the Bulldogs broke the game open by going 72 yards on eight plays. Smith connected with a wide-open Ailport on a 32-yard pass down the left side for the three-touchdown lead.
Smith wasn’t done.
After a Blue Devil fumble, he led Hampton on a 41-yard drive where he finished with a five-yard run and a 27-0 lead.
Unicoi County finally got on the scoreboard with 5:55 left in the game. Thomas Tipton took a swing pass from Cody Jack Rogers five yards for a touchdown. Tipton ran in the two-point conversion as the Blue Devils trailed 27-8.
The final score came when Ailport was wide open on the slant pattern and Smith hit him in stride for a 42-yard touchdown.
“That’s all we do, running routes and catching balls,” Ailport said. “We’ve got good chemistry, great timing. It’s pretty close to being a brotherhood. But, it’s not just one player. You can’t have a good passing game without setting it up with the run. There is no ‘I’ in team.”
For Unicoi County, Abbott led all rushers with 142 yards on 21 carries. Rogers ended up with 79 passing yards on 18 attempts.
Hampton will travel to Hancock County in Mountain East Conference action next Friday, while Unicoi County has its big rivalry game at Three Rivers Conference foe Happy Valley.
“We’re sitting 2-2 with a lot of football left,” Huskins said. “We have a lot of tough, resilient kids and we have to get to work on Sunday and get ready for Happy Valley.”