On the opening day of Major League Baseball’s postseason, Science Hill’s defense pitched a shutout.
The Hilltoppers defense got interceptions from Grant Janeway, Will Adams and Tre Webster and big plays from Tate Isbell, Bryson DeJesus and Damien Hayes, among others, en route to a 17-0 victory Friday at Kermit Tipton Stadium.
Science Hill improved to 4-0 in the Big Eight Conference and 7-0 overall after sputtering past the Trailblazers (2-2, 5-2) in a hard-hitting, ugly game that included 30 penalties (supposedly) and eight turnovers.
“Our defense played outstanding,” Science Hill coach Stacy Carter said. “They couldn’t have played no better. The offense didn’t play very well. Yeah, we shot ourselves in the foot a few times, but it wasn’t horrible. Heck, when you can call ‘em (penalties) any time like that, you can’t get no rhythm. It was awful.”
Science Hill was penalized 18 times for 136 yards and Boone was flagged 12 times for 80 yards (unofficially).
Science Hill quarterback Reed Hayes accounted for 283 of Science Hill’s 335 yards of offense. He got the Hilltoppers on the board when he eluded pressure, rolled right and flipped an 8-yard TD pass to Will Adams on 4th-and-goal with 5:20 left in the first quarter.
“That wasn’t a designed play,” Hayes said. “We were supposed to roll left and I got pressure. So I rolled right and Will was just blocking and he just released.”
The big play on the 61-yard drive was a Hayes 17-yard run that became a 32-yard gain after a late hit out of bounds. Hayes then connected with Janeway, a senior linebacker/tight end, for a 17-yard pass to the Boone 8-yard line.
Hayes passed for 205 yards, two TDs and three interceptions, although two of those came on fourth-down throws on Boone’s end of the field.
Hayes’ second TD pass was a 20-yarder to sophomore Malik McGue that concluded the game’s scoring with 4:21 left in the first half. Hayes lofted a pass to the right side of the end zone and McGue dashed under it on the crowd-pleasing timing route.
McGue finished with seven catches for 145 yards, and it was the second straight year he had a big game against Boone.
“Some people call Will Craig the ‘Tribe Killer’ in baseball,” Hayes said. “I guess Malik’s the ‘Blazer Killer’ in football.”
The Trailblazers had a chance to score in the final minute of the half after converting a 3rd-and-25 with a 36-yard pass to Michael Osterman. A roughing the passer penalty added another seven yards to give Boone 1st-and-goal at the 7.
But Janeway intercepted Jake Littleton near the goal line and Science Hill took over at its 5-yard line with 42 seconds left. Little was flushed to his right and was hit near the sideline as he released the ball, and Janeway appeared to want the wobbly pass near the goal line the most.
“Grant can go up and get it,” said Hayes, who had a 3-yard TD pass to Janeway negated by an ineligible receiver downfield call. It was one of several completions Hayes had nullified by penalties. Carter was most perplexed by a pass interference on Adams.
There were also numerous false starts on Daniel Boone and Science Hill, which was using Nick Lindsay at center due to Ty Jones’ one-game suspension for being ejected last week at Sullivan South.
At any rate, Boone shut out the Hilltoppers for a half, and stymied the explosive offense better than any previous opponent had.
“I’ve never been prouder of my guys,” Boone coach Jeremy Jenkins said. “They fought hard and dug deep and shut them out the second half – one of the top offensive teams in the area. We did a good job of eliminating the big play and made them earn a lot of things.
“Coach Carter does a great job and the Hayes kid is such a phenomenal athlete. And McGue hurt us in crucial times … but he’s gonna do that.”
The interception by Janeway, who also had a sack, was the third turnover of the half for the Trailblazers. The other costly one was when Damien Hayes recovered a Dustin Chandler fumble forced by Bryson DeJesus at the Science Hill 39 after Boone had driven 39 yards on its opening drive.
Boone’s final turnover was Webster’s interception, which he returned 47 yards to the Boone 32 with 7:34 remaining.
“Turnovers and costly penalties hurt us,” Jenkins said. “You can’t give a good team the ball that many times, but we battled and hung in there. We just spun our wheels offensively, and I’ll take the blame for that.”
Cliff Sanders rushed for 91 yards on 19 carries for Boone. Littleton rushed for 41 yards and passed for 126 yards.
Isbell appeared to suffer a serious knee injury late in the game. Jenkins was uncertain about the status of linemen Trevor Duncan (ankle or foot) and Drew Davenport (leg), but said Ryan Gaitor appeared to be okay after leaving the game woozily in the fourth quarter.
Adams had a leaping interception deep downfield for Science Hill.
Boone hosts Sullivan Central on Friday, while Science Hill visits Volunteer.