“Total flip from last week. I thought our defense played great, (but) we struggled offenseively,” Hillgrove coach Phillip Ironside said. “I told the kids there were some poor choices, bad calls on my part that put us in some binds, but I thought our defense was stellar and bailed us out of trouble.”
The announcer had trouble with the name of Hillgrove’s linebacker Keliechi Kagha, despite calling it all night as the sophomore made tackle after tackle
“They just mispronounce it a little bit,” said Kagha, “but I’m used to it.”
“We’ve had two young guys come inside. We’ve been able to slide Phil (Davis) outside and that really makes us a tough defense with his speed,” Ironside said. “They make mistakes, they’re young. But they’re knocking heads and the running backs got tired of running on us tonight.
“I thought we set the tempo defensively with our physicalness.”
That was on display in the third quarter with Hillgrove leading 7-0. The Hawks (2-0) were stuck deep in their own territory, looking at a punting situation.
“I looked at the defensive coordinator and said, ‘What do you want?’” Ironside said. “He said, ‘Go for it.’ Of course, we screwed it up, but he bailed us right back out with a turnover.”
The fumble by Shiloh senior Charles Shavers (19 carries, 98 yards) sparked the Hawks’ only other score. Quarterback Matthew Wilson connected with Jeremiah Bridges and 70 yards later, Hillgrove was knocking on the door. Sonny Harris did the rest, scoring his second touchdown of the night from 5-yards out for a 14-0 lead.
“We had the ball inside the 30 and had two false start penalties (before the fumble),” Generals coach Kenny Tubbs said. “But we were also on our third center at that time. It is what it is. Those are JV guys that had to step up and play in a varsity game, so we’re going to learn and we have no excuses.”
Despite 13 penalties for 104 yards, Shiloh had a chance in the closing minutes of the fourth quarter. Quarterback Zach Olivar connected with Eric White, who completed the “hitch and pitch” play to a cutting Joshua Collins. The senior receiver raced 39 yards down the sidelines for a touchdown that brought life into the crowd.
A successful onside kick got Shiloh the ball back and two plays later, they were inside the 10. An offensive pass interference penalty negated a touchdown, and then Davis ended the game.
“We were playing a good coverage and I saw him going (inside),” Davis said. “I didn’t want to overrun him, so I trailed a bit knowing I had help.
“As our coaches say, ‘See ball. Get ball.’ So I just decided to get the ball and make a big play. As a senior, sometimes you have to execute and shine.”