Hampton’s Tristan Robinson rides down Stephen Barnette as Dalton Carden closes in. (Dave Boyd/Johnson City Press)
ELIZABETHTON — The young pups are growing up.
It’s how Hampton football coach Mike Lunsford described his young Bulldogs after a 33-20 victory over Happy Valley on Friday night on Warrior Hill.
Running behind an inspired offensive line, the Bulldogs (2-2) tallied 295 yards on 45 carries. They ended with 370 yards of total offense and 19 first downs.
“I can’t say enough about our kids,” Lunsford said. “We lost two of our best players, but that was the hardest we’ve played all year. Tristan Robinson was a man. Tommy Frazier was a man and Juan Pearson was a man. I’ve seen their line and they’re good, but they’re coach told me that we whipped them up front. The kids played really hard up there and I can’t be more proud of a group of kids.”
Adam McClain was one of the young pups whom Lunsford was proud of. The freshman tailback rushed for 113 yards on 20 carries and had three touchdowns in the first half.
“It was pretty easy when you have a good line like that,” McClain said. “When they block for you, you have holes and it’s easy to get yards. I liked that the coaches put so much faith in me. I know I’m a freshman, but I think it’s good.”
It wasn’t all ground and pound as Dylan Ford returned the opening kickoff of the second half 67 yards for a touchdown and a 27-14 Hampton lead. Like McClain, he made sure to pay homage to the boys up front.
“I couldn’t have done it without those people blocking in front of me,” Ford said. “I broke a couple of tackles, but it was all about the people who were blocking. That’s the only way I could have gotten it.”
Sophomore quarterback Coby Jones was another youngster who excelled for Hampton. He ran seven times for 71 yards and completed 5-of-9 passes for 75 yards.
Happy Valley fell to 1-3 despite an inspired effort by junior running back Phillip Garland, who ended with 142 rushing yards on 22 carries.
The Warriors simply couldn’t stop Hampton’s bruising attack as head coach Larry Shively said there were too many missed tackles.
“We had kids in the right spots and our kids played hard,” Shively said. “They had some good young backs, but we couldn’t tackle them. We missed way too many tackles and the kids will tell you that. That’s not acceptable for us.”
Hampton struck first on its first possession.
McClain followed his blockers one yard for a touchdown to cap off a seven-play, 62-yard drive with 7:57 left in the first quarter.
The Warriors responded with a 10-play, 62-yard drive. Quarterback Tyler Marlowe finished with a one-yard touchdown, but a missed the extra-point left Hampton with a one-point lead.
The Bulldogs marched back down the field with McClain’s second touchdown run, only to see Garland score on a three-yard run for the Warriors. Marlowe then hit Austin Hicks on a two-point conversion pass for a 14-13 Happy Valley lead.
It was the Warriors’ only lead as McClain scored his third touchdown with 2:37 left in the first half.
After Ford’s kickoff return to start the second half, the Bulldogs tacked on another score in the third quarter with a 13-yard run by Juan Olvera.
With Marlowe suffering a knee injury right before the half, any hopes of a Warrior comeback rested on the legs of Garland.
Garland scored on an eight-yard run with 10:23 left in the game, and Happy Valley drove to the Hampton-17 on its next possession before the threat was ended by Caleb West’s interception at the goal line.
The Warriors will get back to Three Rivers Conference action next Friday, hosting Johnson County. Hampton gets the week off before facing the Longhorns the following Friday.