By Dana Harding (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
Springfield, Mo. — Glendale will likely have its share of Josh Powell nightmares in the days to come.
The senior receiver scored five touchdowns as Hillcrest rolled to a 58-24 upset victory over the No. 6 Falcons.
Whether it was catching passes from quarterback Hayden Parton, running out of the wildcat formation, returning kicks or making plays on defense, Powell did a little bit of everything Friday night.
Hillcrest head coach John Beckham praised Powell’s performance not only as a game-breaking highlight reel, but as a ball-control playmaker.
“Josh, when he has the ball in his hands, he’s thinking about scoring a touchdown every time,” Beckham said. “The thing I was most concerned about is we just don’t have the numbers to match up with them. I was worried our guys were going to get tired, especially on defense. We had to control the clock, and I thought Josh and Malik Starks did a great job getting us some first downs and making that clock run.”
After Glendale went four-and-out on its first possession, Hillcrest wasted little time turning its playmaker loose.
Powell took a direct snap from center and raced around the right side to put the Hornets on the board.
After Glendale’s next series ended with a turnover, Hillcrest scored two plays later when Parton found Tim Washington for a 12-0 lead.
While Powell provided a spark on offense, it was Hillcrest’s defensive effort that set the tempo throughout the matchup.
Coming off a week one stat line of 587 yards and eight touchdowns, Falcons quarterback Alex Huston seemed primed for yet another video game performance; however, Hillcrest would not be as accommodating.
The Hornets scheme forced Huston outside his usual comfort zone of patient reads and laser throws all over the field.
Huston finished the game with 276 yards passing, 80 yards rushing, three touchdowns (one rush), and three interceptions.
“We kind of felt like we needed to bring pressure, but we had to be careful,” Beckham said. “We had to bring it at certain times and were fortunate with how it turned out.”
Hillcrest linebacker Malik Starks keyed the defensive attack up front.
“The defensive scheme we had squeezed down some of our defensive tackles so they could take on their guards,” Starks said. “And I’d come free in the middle.”
Starks and the Hornets were able to slow Glendale’s rapid-fire offense down, something few teams in the Ozarks have accomplished.
Down 12-0, Glendale’s offense finally got rolling with an eight-play, 71-yard scoring drive ending on a Huston touchdown pass to Corbin Lukes.
The momentum shift was fleeting, however, as Hillcrest answered the Glendale rally with a Starks 1-yard plunge.
Up 26-16 at the break, Hillcrest turned to Powell in the second half.
The senior delivered … and then some.
Powell scored on three wildcat runs, a 34-yard pass play from Parton, and a 60-yard interception return that was called back on an inadvertent whistle.
Full of twists, cuts and pirouettes, Powell’s runs continued to affect the tiring Falcon defense.
“Only thing going through my mind is protect the ball and run,” Powell said. “Whatever comes open, I take that. I hit that hole, and I go. We just wanted to play with some emotion and win the game.”
Powell’s stat line included 102 yards rushing, 62 yards receiving, one interception and five scores.
Following the loss, Glendale head coach Mike Mauk credited Hillcrest for the solid plan and performance.
“My hat’s off to their coaching staff and their team,” Mauk said. “Their coaches put together a great game plan, and their kids executed it.”
As for Glendale’s outlook, the fourth-year coach looks forward to the challenge.
“One game is one game,” Mauk said. “Sometimes you have to find out what type of character you have as an individual and as a football team, and we’ll find out what type of character we have on how we respond and how we bounce back.”
Next week, Hillcrest (1-1) hosts Waynesville, while Glendale (1-1) travels to West Plains.
Hillcrest – 58, Glendale – 24
Glendale 8 8 6 0 — 24
Hillcrest 18 8 12 20 — 58
First quarter scoring
Hillcrest – Josh Powell 2yd run (2pt conversion failed)
Hillcrest – Hayden Parton 15yd pass to Tim Washington (2pt conversion failed)
Glendale – Alex Huston 3yd pass to Corbin Lukes (Huston pass to Max Nichols)
Hillcrest – Malik Starks 1-yd TD run (2pt converstion failed)
Second quarter scoring
Glendale – Huston 12yd pass to Nichols (Huston pass to Nichols)
Hillcrest – Dion Davis 2yd run (Parton pass to Starks)
Third quarter scoring
Hillcrest – Powell 7yd run (2pt conversion failed)
Glendale – Huston 7yd run (2pt conversion failed)
Hillcrest – Parton 34yd pass to Powell (2pt conversion failed)
Fourth quarter scoring
Hillcrest – Parton 24yd pass to Laterrian Jarman (Parton pass to Davis)
Hillcrest – Powell 18yd run (2pt conversion failed)
Hillcrest – Powell 1yd run (2pt conversion failed)