MORRISTOWN — Science Hill is known for athleticism and explosive plays, but it looked awfully physical while improving to 3-0 with a 42-0 victory on Friday at Morristown West.
Malik McGue rushed for two touchdowns and passed 51 yards to Malik Stephens for another while helping the Hilltoppers build a 35-0 halftime lead, and the mercy clock ran throughout the second half for the second straight week.
“That was a great game by our defense,” Science Hill coach Stacy Carter said.
Underscoring the Hilltoppers’ physicality was the fact that a cornerback and a running back delivered two of the more impressive blows on consecutive plays early in the second quarter.
With Science Hill leading 21-0, Tucker McPherson intercepted a Will Gardner pass and returned it 70 yards to the Morristown West 2-yard line with 8:03 left in the second quarter. McPherson stayed on his feet at the 5 after a collision that left Gardner needing assistance to wobble off the field.
On the ensuing play, after a false start, 5-foot-8, 230-pound Addison Adams ran over a would-be tackler while rumbling around left end for six yards. Adams scored on the next play, giving the Hilltoppers a 28-0 lead.
If McPherson couldn’t complete the pick-six, he was more than happy to leave a mark.
“Hey, I’m not too shifty … but I’m pretty tough,” McPherson said. “I wanted to send a message right there that we’re a good team. … To be honest, that was my first pick ever. … He basically threw it right at me. I froze; I didn’t know what to do at first. I thought, ‘Man, I better catch this ball.’
“And as I was running, my defenders did a great job blocking for me and I was gonna hold on to that football no matter what.”
Science Hill’s Mikey White returned the opening kickoff to the West 47, and the Hilltoppers drove for the initial touchdown in four plays.
Chance Pierce, who led Science Hill with eight carries for 91 yards, started the scoring with an 8-yard TD run. The key play on the drive was Isaac Story’s difficult one-handed reception while being hit low – a catch he took to the Trojans 4.
McGue connected with Stephens for the 51-yard TD with 7:39 left in the quarter.
“It feels good to know Coach Carter has trust in me and he feels like I can do something for this team,” said Stephens, who has three TDs in the past two games. “I saw the safety bite up and I knew what my job was. I saw the guy in front of me and I just cut back and saw my block on the outside.”
McGue scored on a 48-yard TD run with 15 seconds left in the first quarter and added a 6-yard TD with a minute remaining in the first half. He finished with seven carries for 65 yards and was 5-of-9 passing for 109 yards in limited duty.
Trey Sutton and Gad Nagba each ran four times for 48 yards for Science Hill. Nagba’s 9-yard TD run concluded the scoring with 1:11 left in the third quarter.
“Gad running the ball to seal the deal at the beginning of the third quarter really helped us out, too,” Carter said. “He’s a load. … Malik Stephens is doing a good job for us. He’s a weapon. He plays a good free safety for us and he’s playing awesome in the slot for us.”
Science Hill had 36 carries for 296 yards.
“I think our O-line is doing a super job,” Carter said. “We had some big runs, and really they never stopped us on the ground all night.”
Aaron Adams and Nagba were the Hilltoppers leading tacklers. One of Aaron Adams’ was a sack. Cornerback Brandon Westmoreland led the team with two breakups.
Gardner was 13-of-29 passing for 121 yards, Isiah Dial had 15 rushes for 44 yards and Zach Pell made three catches for 58 yards for the Trojans (1-3), who visit Sevier County next Friday.
Science Hill will travel to Murfreesboro to play Siegel (2-2), which has beaten Ooltewah and McCallie and lost to Blackman and Oakland.
“I’ve seen ‘em,” Carter said. “They’re a pretty good football team.”