The Indians dominated time of possession behind their overpowering offensive and defensive lines, while Hicks finished with 29 carries for 182 yards in a 24-21 win over the Hilltoppers. He also caught a screen pass from quarterback Lendon Redwine and turned it into a 32-yard touchdown.
Hicks saved the best for last, breaking a 38-yard run to get D-B down to the Science Hill 10-yard line. He then scored the game-winning, seven-yard touchdown with 1:06 left.
“My coaches on the sideline told me to take control of the game and put the team on your back. That’s what I had to do,” Hicks said. “You just have to give 100 percent effort every play and trust in your teammates. I scored that touchdown and felt like I couldn’t breathe I was so excited. I’m just so excited for everybody on my team.”
It was the first win for head coach Joey Christian and it snapped a five-year, six-game losing streak against the Hilltoppers. Dobyns-Bennett improved 1-2 overall, to 1-0 in the Region 1-6A standings and 1— overall. Science Hill fell to 1-2, 0-1.
“If you’re going to have a first victory, this is the one to have,” Christian said. “We wanted to come out and establish the line of scrimmage. And Ian did a heck of a job running the football. This game showed how these guys have believed in what we’ve been teaching them. The second half, our defense played so good. They really made good things happen.”
Science Hill had some big moments offensively as quarterback AJ Stewart finished with 175 passing yards, but the Indians hemmed him in as a ball carrier, holding him to just 23 rushing yards.
Chris Thomas was Science Hill’s leading rusher with 88 yards, but the Hilltoppers had limited opportunities with Dobyns-Bennett controlling the tempo and the clock.
“They were able to run the ball on us and we weren’t able to run the ball on them,” Science Hill coach Stacy Carter said. “They did a great job up front and that’s their game. We didn’t do it very well tonight and it’s all on us. We got the breaks we needed. We had the chance to get the stop we needed and we just didn’t get it. We have to regroup and get back to work.”
Science Hill struck first less than two minutes into the game with a 74-yard touchdown pass from Stewart to Marquis Grifffin.
Cade Maupin’s interception ended Science Hill’s next drive and the Indians took advantage when Hicks capped off a six-play drive with a three-yard touchdown run.
The Hilltoppers responded on the next drive with Thomas breaking free on a 41-yard touchdown run down the left side. Dobyns-Bennett was driving for the tying score, when defensive back Nick Copenhaver recovered a fumble at the Science Hill eight.
The Indians got the ball back with 40 seconds left in the half. Redwine drew in the blitzing Science Hill defense, lobbing a screen pass to Hicks, who converted it into the 32-yard touchdown.
Overall, Dobyns-Bennett strung together two long drives which ended with fumbles inside the Science Hill 10-yard line. Copenhaver came up with both recoveries in addition to totaling a game-high 16 tackles with one for a loss.
But, the Indians weren’t to be denied in the fourth quarter and a 22-yard field goal by Jaden Alderson with a little over five minutes left gave Dobyns-Bennett a 17-14 lead, its first lead of the season.
The Hilltoppers quickly responded with an 80-yard drive which featured Stewart completing passes of 35 yards to Josh Santiago and 30 yards to Clifton Maxwell. Malik Bowman scored on a three-yard touchdown run with 3:20 left.
It gave the Indians time to come back with the game-winning drive, seven-play drive for 63 yards.
In addition, Redwine provided a steady hand, completing 9 of 13 passes for 91 yards.
Dobyns-Bennett returns home to face Sevier County next Friday night. Science Hill will head on the road at defending Class 4A state champion Greeneville.