HAMPTON — The song “Hampton” bounced off the stands full of baby blue. Hampton’s anticipated football season finally began Friday night at J.C. Campbell Field.
And despite a strong first-half challenge, the Bulldogs defeated Johnson County 30-7 to open their 2011 season with a solid, yet at times sloppy, win.
Behind a hat-trick of scoring from senior caption Justin Adkins and an off-tackle play that the Longhorns just couldn’t stop, Hampton outlasted a 14-7 halftime scare to pull away convincingly in the third.
“We have to play smarter and I think we will,” said Bulldogs coach Michael Lunsford, who watched his team put the ball on the ground four times while losing two. “The first game is really not an indication of your last game.”
Adkins stole momentum with a 65-yard interception return in the second and got a safety and a touchdown in the third while rushing 13 times for 89 yards.
Backfield mate Phillip Waters (12 carries, 104 yards) scored early in the third and quarterback Lane Smith connected with Cody Ingle on a play-action touchdown pass in the first while massive tackle Taylor Edwards dominated both sides of the ball.
“He’s just been playing tackle for three days and he was awesome,” said Lunsford.
Off a play-action, Smith found Ingle in stride down the right sideline and struck for a 37-yard touchdown and 7-0 lead with 5:30 left in the first.
The Longhorns moved the ball on the ensuing possession with success when quarterback Chase Kleine (13 carries, 69 yards) scrambled for 17 yards. But on third-and-nine, Adkins made a game-changing play.
Adkins picked a pass and followed a blue swarm of blockers the length of the field for the defensive score to put Johnson County in a 14-0 hole.
“The only thing I had to do was to read the quarterback,” said Adkins. “As soon as I got the ball everybody blocked perfectly.”
The ’Horns (0-2) responded well behind Kleine’s legs as an 18-yard rollout got Johnson County to Hampton’s 24-yard line.
And after fourth-and-one conversion by scat back Chris Stollings, Kleine took a quick count up the gut for a 12-yard score to cut the lead to 14-7.
Hampton looked to take command, but after an 18-yard carry by Waters and an 11-yarder by Adkins, Luke Poteet got a solid shot. Adkins coughed up the ball and Longhorn sophomore lineman Scottie Townsend quickly recovered.
The ’Horns looked to tied up the contest before half with Kleine getting the benefit of the doubt on a third-and-10 conversion where he was ruled down before the ball came out. On the next third-and-long, Kleine found Ryan Mahala for a 23-yard strike.
But at Hampton’s 24-yard-line the ball got away from Kleine again. This time Hampton’s Tyler Trussler covered the rock to hold the score at 14-7 at the half.
“That was probably the biggest play of the game,” said Johnson County coach Mike Atwood of the turnover. “That and the interception.”
After stuffing the ’Horns to a three-and-out to open the second half, Hampton was quick to tack on more.
On a third-and-12 Smith again found Ingle who got all the way to Johnson County’s 7-yard-line before he was taken down. From there Waters ran off tackle untouched and the lead was 20-7 for the ’Dogs.
“We never did adjust to that off tackle play,” said Atwood. “And they’ve ran it ever since I’ve been coaching. We practiced against it, but they run it well.
“Our boys played better so I’m not totally disheartened with the team, but they got to learn how to win,” said Atwood, whose team lost 52-0 to Tennessee High last week.
The Bulldogs’ defense was led Derek Lewis with seven tackles and Trussler had six including a sack. The Longhorns were led by Seth Little with nine tackles.