Dobyns-Bennett went streaking in the rain Thursday night at Kermit Tipton Stadium.
The Indians defeated Science Hill 47-14, beating the Hilltoppers for the 18th straight time while winning the Big Eight Conference title.
D-B (7-0, 10-0) will host a first-round playoff game next week. Science Hill (6-1, 7-3) could host or travel for its playoff opener.
A large crowd ignored the rain to see the matchup of Big Eight unbeatens, but Indians fullback Paul Slaughter scored from 70 yards out on D-B’s first play from scrimmage and and Devaun Swafford ran for a 50-yard TD on its second play from scrimmage.
“It wasn’t our night,” Science Hill coach Stacy Carter said. “But it also shows we’ve still got to bridge the gap. We’ve got to forget about it and move on for the playoffs.”
Science Hill elected to punt on 4th-and-2 at the 50-yard line on its opening possession. D-B’s Malik Foreman returned the punt 17 yards to the Indians 30 to set up Slaughter’s 70-yard burst through the middle basically untouched on a dive play.
After a Science Hill three-and-out, Foreman returned a punt 28 yards to the 50. Swafford then took a handoff and made would-be tacklers of seemingly half of the Hilltoppers while running for a 50-yard TD.
“What a way to start the game,” D-B coach Graham Clark said. ““We wanted to try to run the football tonight and move the chains and run the clock. What a great effort by our guys. The line must have blocked really well.”
Left guard Ty Hayworth, a Wake Forest commitment, anchors the D-B offensive line. Of course, Swafford’s athleticism makes about any hole look big, and he doesn’t go down easily when there isn’t an opening. Science Hill’s tackling discouraged its fans and coaches.
“It was disappointing,” Carter said. “But also, if you’ve got a good back you can’t get your hands on, it’s hard. He (Swafford) was probably the best back we’ve seen. He’s hurt (ankle), and he’s still a good player.”
Will Adams’ 11-yard TD run and Perry Murdaugh’s PAT cut Science Hill’s deficit to seven (14-7) with 5:11 left in the first quarter. Adams also converted a 3rd-and-8 with an 11-yard catch on the drive, and quarterback Justin Snyder scrambled 19 yards to the D-B 7 two plays before Adams’ TD run.
Science Hill jumped into the neutral zone twice in the first half on D-B fourth-down plays to move the chains. The most painful offside penalty was on 4th-and-2 at the Science Hill 9, Swafford scored from four yards out on the ensuing play for a 20-7 lead. (Chad Diminick’s PAT kick was wide right.)
D-B also converted a 4th-and-4 at the Science Hill 8 when Chris Cook’s play-action fake helped fullback Zach Casey get open for a 8-yard TD reception and a 26-7 lead with 1:06 left in the first half.
Science Hill drove to the D-B 35 late in the half, but Cook, the son of former East Tennessee State defensive back Donnie Cook, intercepted Snyder in the end zone for a touchback with 0.1 seconds left in the half.
Any hope Science Hill fans had of a comeback were surely doused when D-B drove 64 yards for an 8-yard Slaughter TD despite fumbling three times on the first possession of the second half.
“They fumbled three times and it bounced right back in their hands,” Carter said.
Snyder threw a 12-yard TD pass to Reed Hayes on a 4th-and-goal to make the score 33-14 with 4:42 left in the third quarter, but the Indians answered less than two minutes later when Seth Barger broke a tackle on a 38-yard TD run.
The Indians’ final scored came on Sam Taylor’s 24-yard interception return with 1:52 left in the third quarter.
D-B finished with 51 carries for 382 yards. Slaughter had 16 carries for 137 yards. Swafford had 15 rushes for 142 yards.
Cook completed 2 of 3 passes for 51 yards. One completion was a 43-yarder that Malik Foreman went up and caught between two Hilltoppers at the Science Hill 13 with 3 1/2 minutes left in the first half.
Science Hill had 30 carries for 177 yards. Will Adams ran 10 times for 54 yards – all in the first half. Jahmar Adams had 65 yards on eight rushes, and Snyder carried nine times for 58 yards.
Snyder was 9 of 16 for 76 yards, one TD and two interceptions.
Carter downplayed the series’ streak, although the Hilltoppers looked tight at times while jumping offsides, mishandling squib kicks and not going for the 4th-and-2 at the 50 on the game’s opening series. But Carter was more wary of the elements than the streak. Snyder’s hands aren’t exactly huge, and the wet ball influenced the play-calling.
“You’re handcuffed,” Carter said. “If we could run the dive and counter like they do … but we throw the ball and you can’t do it in this crap. It’d make some difference. But I mean they whooped us. Basically, that’s it. …
“That (streak) had nothing to do with it. They played good football … and we couldn’t run our (passing) offense. And we couldn’t push them around.”
The Hilltoppers had nine penalties for 100 yards. Science Hill punter Harrison Matteau punted five times for a 43.2-yard average.
Science Hill linemen Tyler Miles didn’t play in the second half, and had an ice pack on his neck on the bench some 15 minutes after the game’s end. Carter said his status is uncertain.