Morristown West lost its key weapon Friday night, and it lost track of one of Science Hill’s.
Senior running back Will Adams rushed for two touchdowns and returned a kickoff 93 yards for another which gave Science Hill a 35-24 lead with 7:19 remaining, and the Hilltoppers held on for a 41-27 victory in a battle of unbeatens at Kermit Tipton Stadium.
The Trojans (3-1), ranked No. 2 in Class 5A, lost running back Malachi Horton to an ankle sprain in the first half. He carried nine times for 58 yards, which gives him 815 on the season, and he’s expected back next week. But West’s offensive line still did damage, helping Isiah Dial rush for 84 yards on 19 carries.
Zippy Capps’ 26-yard field goal got West within 28-24 with 7:39 to go, and Science Hill coach Stacy Carter was thinking of how to get Adams the ball.
“Yeah, I was glad to see them kick it to him,” said Carter, whose Hilltoppers improved to 4-0. “I didn’t really think that was gonna happen. It was funny, we were talking about … (how) we needed to get the ball in Will’s hands and the next thing you know they put it in his hands for us.”
Adams ran the first 50 yards or so up the middle of the field, then veered toward the left pylon and had to make a move on one Trojan around the 10-yard line.
“We’ve been working a lot on kickoff returns, on getting the holes opened and stuff,” Adams said. “I just saw an opening and I hit it as hard as I could.”
Capps added a 38-yard field goal to make the score 35-27 with 3:04 left, but Science Hill sealed the victory on a 25-yard play-action touchdown pass from Reed Hayes to tight end Grant Janeway with 1:04 remaining. It was the second TD pass of the night for Hayes, who was 9 of 15 for 206 yards.
The TD was the third catch of the game for Janeway, who tallied 75 receiving yards.
“The line held their blocks great,” Janeway said. “It was just a perfect play all the way around – a great ball, great throw. It was drawn up and we just executed it.”
The late pass was an aggressive call in a one-score game, but West was crashing aggressively to help create the 3rd-and-7 situation.
“We thought it was there,” Carter said, “and it’s one of them things, if you miss it you look stupid and if you make it … But it was there. He took his time and made the right read on it, too.”
Hayes could’ve had three TD passes. Malik McGue (three catches, 58 yards) fumbled from the 1-yard line into the end zone after a 14-yard catch, and Science Hill lineman Nick Lindsay recovered it to give Science Hill a 7-0 lead with 6:25 left in the first qurter.
The Trojans tied it on Will Gardner’s 7-yard pass to tight end Hunter Carter with 1:42 left in the quarter.
Adams capped a seven-play, 65-yard drive to give the Hilltoppers a 14-7 lead with 6:45 left in the first half, but West answered with an 18-play, 76-yard TD drive that Tyler Brooks finished with a 1-yard run to tie the score 18 seconds before halftime.
Garner connected with Drew Epps for a 44-yard TD pass as the Trojans went up 21-14 with 10:41 left in the third quarter. Science Hill answered when Hayes scrambled to his left and found an open Jordan Olsen deep downfield for a 56-yard TD with 5:26 left in the third quarter.
“That’s Reed Hayes for you,” Adams said. “He’s a great player, and he can make plays like that any time.”
One of the game’s biggest plays came on West’s ensuing drive. Science Hill cornerback Trey Webster returned an interception 35 yards to the West 2, and Adams scored on the next play to give the ’Toppers a 28-21 lead with 4:28 left in the third quarter.
“That (interception) was huge,” Janeway said. “That was a turning point.”
Adams finished with 16 carries for 68 yards. Hayes had eight carries for 49 yards. Olsen had two catches for 68 yards.
O’Ryen Scott led Science Hill with nine tackles (unofficially). Adams and Janeway each had eight.
Gardner was 16 of 28 for 201 yards, two TDs and the interception. Tanner Lowery had six catches for 71 yards and Epps had four for 74.
“Their offensive line was tremendous,” Carter said . “The back’s good too. … I hate he got hurt, but that offensive line, I think, is the big difference in the game anyhow. … They kept the ball away from us.
“It feels great to be 4-0 … but we’ve got a lot of work to do. We know that. But we’re having athletes and people in the right spots to pull us through some big games. That’s a good football team.”
Science Hill hosts David Crockett on Friday at 7:30 p.m. for homecoming.”