HAMPTON — While Phillip Waters was again spectacular, Hampton showed it had plenty of other stars in a 60-35 romp over Sullivan East Friday night at J.C. Campbell Stadium.
Waters ended with 17 carries for 137 rushing yards, a team-best 218 all-purpose yards and three touchdowns, including taking the game’s opening kickoff 81 yards for a touchdown.
However, it wasn’t a one-man show for the Bulldogs, who improved to 7-0 on the season.
Justin Adkins had a game-high 178 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 21 carries, while Tyler Trusler and Eddie Olvera turned in great all-around performances. Trusler had a fumble recovery and an interception which were game-changers in the first half, and added a late rushing touchdown. Olvera hauled in three of quarterback Lane Smith’s passes for 87 yards and two touchdowns, and was 6-for-6 on extra-point attempts.
Head coach Mike Lunsford liked how his Bulldogs, ranked No. 4 in Class 2A, responded to the challenge of facing the Patriors, ranked No. 10 in the latest Class 4A poll.
“I’m awful proud of my kids,” Lunsford said. “They answered the bell. The quarterback did a great job, Waters and Adkins did great, Trusler, “Beef” (Taylor Edwards), everybody I put in there. Of course if all those backs are doing a good job, those linemen must be doing something.”
The Patriots, who fell to 5-2, had a pair of big individual performances as well. Although held to 37 rushing yards, Austin Glover had 223 all-purpose yards with 146 return yards and 3-for-3 passing for another 40 yards.
Startng quarterback Daniel Truett added eight carries for 82 yards and another 52 yards passing.
However, the Patriots were no match for Hampton after Olvera’s two-touchdown catches in a 27-second span, set up by Trusler’s big plays on defense.
“I knew we needed the ball to put the game away,” Trusler said. “The players on that fumble recovery, they forced the fumble so I knew I had to get on it. The interception, they lined No. 4 (Glover) out there and he ran a post. I picked it right up, and everybody said I jumped about 10 foot high to get that.”
East head coach Mike Locke said the turnovers were a hugh momentum swing.
“If it was a tennis match, we needed to hold serve, and we didn’t,” Sullivan East head coach Mike Locke said. “They got up on us after those costly turnovers. That last minute and 30 seconds back in the second quarter, it got away from us.”
After Waters’ game-opening touchdown, Glover answered with a 98-yard return on the ensuing kickoff as the Patriots tied 7-7. On the next possession, Adkins powered in from six yards for a short-lived 14-7 Bulldog lead. Truett took a quarterback keeper 68 yards for a score on East’s next offensive play.
As the teams continued to pile up points, Adkins broke free on a 45-yard touchdown run only to see East tie the game at 21 apiece on a 21-yard pass from Truett to Rocky Gragg.
Following 42 points being scored in the first quarter, Waters put Hampton ahead for good on a 13-yard sweep to the right side early in the second quarter.
Hampton’s offense accounted for 383 rushing yards and 470 yards of total offense. Waters, alone, would have exceeded 250 all-purpose yards and four touchdowns if a 37-yard rush hadn’t been called back for a holding penalty.
Adkins, who totaled the big rushing numbers on Friday night, said the win showed the team has a lot more talent than just he and Waters.
“All of us are working hard in practice,” Adkins said. “It’s not a one-man or two-man team, it’s everybody. If everybody don’t click, then nothing is going to happen. Right now, we’re clicking as good as we have all year and I’m glad for it.”
Both teams return to league play next week.
East will host Unicoi County in a Three Rivers Conference affair, while Hampton looks to keep its perfect run in the Mountain East Conference against Unaka.