First-year coach Jeremy Bosken has the David Crockett program pumped up, but Science Hill at least temporarily sprang some ‘Liks in it on Friday at Tipton Stadium.
Quarterback Malik McGue rushed for 267 yards and five touchdowns in the first half and fellow junior Malik Stephens opened the game by completing a 31-yard reverse flea-flicker and scored two first-half touchdowns and Science Hill dashed to a surreal 90-21 victory.
The Hilltoppers led 76-14 at the half, and one of their two second-half scores came on Addison Adams’ 10-yard interception return. Stephens returned an interception 39 yards for a TD with 8:07 left in the first quarter.
The ‘Toppers scored five times in a six-play span from scrimmage during one sequence in the first half.
Crockett came in 2-0 after beating Unicoi County 48-26, and Science Hill coach Stacy Carter wanted to set the tone with the flea-flicker pass (a 31-yarder to Ian Martin), which came after Trey Sutton returned the game’s opening kickoff to the Crockett 39.
“We wanted to get some momentum early,” said Carter, whose Hilltoppers (2-0) visit Morristown West on Friday. “They were coming off a lot of momentum, and we were trying to slow down some of that.”
Carter said Science Hill’s relatively inexperienced team was much crisper with a game in the books – last week’s 40-35 win against Elizabethton.
“I think you’re always gonna be sharper your second game,” Carter said. “And Elizabethton’s a good football team; we know that. They’re a real good football team.
“But we were sharper and we got that defensive score early. That turns things around. We had short fields, and we’ve got explosive players that made some plays.”
McGue scored on an 8-yard run on the game’s second play from scrimmage. He made it 13-0 with an 89-yard run with 9:09 left in the first quarter.
McGue finished the first half – and game – with eight carries for 267 yards and five TDs, was 2-of-3 passing for 35 yards and a TD and returned a punt 35 yards to the Crockett 12.
His other TD runs went for 10, 25 and 72 yards, and his TD pass was a 12-yarder to Stephens, whose talent impresses McGue on a daily basis.
“Malik’s been doing some phenomenal things, which he’s capable of,” McGue said. “But the thing about him is he can still get a lot better. He has a high ceiling – and he’s putting up good numbers right now.”
The Science Hill players apparently felt disrespected in the social media realm leading up to the game against Crockett.
“We kind of set a tone in practice this week,” McGue said.”Our leaders, like Gad Nagba and everyone, said stay off Twitter and those social networks … and just prove it on the field.”
Chance Pierce had a 55-yard run and a 62-yard TD. Nagba rushed for a 17-yard TD. Sutton (three carries, 74 yards) ended the first half with a 16-yard TD run. The Hilltoppers’ final score was a 6-yard run by Jacob Laughlin on the last play of the third quarter. Justin Bedard had two rushes for 75 yards.
According to Science Hill statistician Steve DeBaugh, the 90 points was a Big Seven Conference record, breaking the Hilltoppers’ mark of 76 set last season against Tennessee High. But the 90 was achieved with a running clock in the second half.
Science Hill rushed for 478 yards in the first half, and finished with 580 on the ground. The ‘Toppers passed for 66 yards.
Crockett moved the ball at times, and got a bad break when freshman running back TK Hill sprained an ankle in the first quarter. Hill left the game for a while, re-taped the ankle and returned to run for a 79-yard TD with 4:25 left in the third quarter. He finished with eight carries for 98 yards (unofficially), but Bosken said he reaggravated the sprain later in the game.
Crockett sophomore quarterback Ryan Burger passed for 232 yards and ran for a 1-yard TD.
The Pioneers’ Dalton Brown also rushed for a 1-yard TD.
Bosken worked under Carter at Science Hill until leaving for a job in South Carolina after the 2011 season, and was quick to credit Carter’s program. But he also wasn’t impressed with his own game-week in Jonesborough.
“It’s on me, it really is,” Bosken said. “We should’ve tackled better and we put some late adjustments in late in the week that probably complicated things for some of the kids. That’s on me.
“The 90 up there, I mean, he wasn’t running up the score. That was just us doing a poor job of special teams and, really, all aspects.”
Bosken was McGue’s receivers coach when he was a freshman, and Friday’s rout notwithstanding, McGue sees good things ahead for the Pioneers.
“They have a young team and a bright future,” McGue said. “They have their city behind them now. They have a good vibe behind their football program now. Their quarterback’s just, what, a sophomore? They have a bright future with Hill. I mean, he runs the ball really good. He had an injury tonight.”
There’s no rest for the ailing. Crockett visits Elizabethton on Friday and hosts Dobyns-Bennett on Sept. 20.