Midway through the third quarter at Hillcrest’s Shumate Stadium, the visiting Glendale Falcons held a 13-6 lead and seemed to be methodically rocking the Hillcrest Hornets to sleep.
A fake punt and a long run by Hornet tailback Sheldon Moeller provided the wakeup call for Hillcrest as they scored 20 unanswered second half points after the fake punt for a 26-13 Ozark Conference win over Glendale (0-2).
Trailing 13-6 with 4:39 left in the third quarter, Hillcrest was staring at a 4th-and-8 on its own 36-yard line. After a timeout by coach John Beckham, the Hornets lined up for a punt but instead of a punt Moeller took a direct snap and went straight up the middle for 52 yards to the Falcon 12-yard line.
Hillcrest’s Matt Rush took the handoff from quarterback Jonah Hill on the next play and went 12 yards into the end zone for the score. Hill capped the comeback with a two-point conversion run and Hillcrest led 14-13 with 4:12 remaining in the third period.
“We were going to run the fake no matter if we took the timeout or not,” said Beckham. “We have a lot of young guys and we had to call the timeout because a couple of guys didn’t know what was going on. I wondered if calling the timeout would give them the heads up, but we just felt like Glendale had all the momentum and we needed to get going. I’ll call a fake punt at the most inopportune time – our own side of the field, 10 or 11 yards to go. I just felt like we had a chance.”
The deception paid off as the Hornets (2-0) never looked back. Hillcrest scored on each of its next two possessions. Juwan Johnson took a handoff from Hill and went 24 yards for a touchdown with 59 seconds left in the third quarter, and Hill hooked up with tight end Micah Liming for a 13 scoring play with 8:52 left to play for the 26-13 final difference.
Glendale coach Tyler Overstreet said the momentum switching fake punt did not come as a surprise to he or his staff.
“No we weren’t surprised. We gambled. We brought our defenders up, and they burned us,” he said. “I thought it was a great effort, and both teams played hard all night. We had some breaks go our way early, and some went our way we couldn’t take advantage of.”
In a steady rain the two teams traded punts and Hillcrest lost a fumble midway through the first quarter to stop a potential scoring drive deep in Falcon territory at the 19. The Hornets also fumbled a punt early in the second quarter, giving the ball to Glendale at the Hillcrest 29, but the Hornet defense stiffened and stopped the Falcons on a 4th-and-1 on their 21.
Hillcrest struck first on a 32-yard run by Moeller on a shovel pass from Hill with 28.6 left to play in the first quarter. The extra point kick failed leaving the Hornets with a 6-0 lead. But only for a moment.
On the ensuing kickoff Falcon kick returner Justin Starks went 80 yards to take the lead for Glendale after Derek Roberts’ PAT made the score 7-6.
The score remained 7-6 until the opening drive of the second half when Glendale went 68 yards in 12 plays. Glendale quarterback Will Rogers found fullback DeShawn Clancy in the end zone for a 7 yard TD with 6:18 left in the third. The PAT kick was blocked by Hillcrest’s Antonio Juarez leaving the Falcons with a 13-6 lead.
Overstreet said Rogers suffered a severe cut on his non-throwing left hand midway through the first quarter and was taken to the hospital after the game for treatment.
“The skin was laid open. He just wanted us to tape it up and he played the rest of the way,” said Overstreet. “ I can’t say enough about Will. He’s everything you would want in a quarterback and more.”
Hill led all rushers with 122 yards on 20 carries. Moeller finished with six carries for 104 yards.
Hillcrest defensive lineman Dominick Rodriquez was a constant problem for the Glendale Falcons offense as he recorded four sacks in the victory.
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