Springfield, Mo. (For OzarksSportsZone.com) – The Hillcrest Hornets grounded and pounded their way to a 36-7 blowout of West Plains on a cold and rainy night to advance to the next round of the Class 4-District 4 playoffs.
“I’m very proud of these guys,” said Hornets head coach John Beckham. “Football season has so many ups and downs, you have to regroup quickly. We didn’t play well last week so to come out and rebound and play well tonight.”
The Hornets used an explosive running game led by quarterback Matt Rush and running back Juwan Johnson to stake a 20-0 lead at halftime.
Hillcrest got its scoring started after a West Plains three and out and a muffed punt gave them prime field position at the Zizzers 29 yard line. On the first play of the drive Rush took a keeper up the middle for a touchdown.
Two possessions later Johnson was at it again with a 65-yard touchdown to give the Hornets a 14-0 lead with 5:46 left in the first half.
“Having two guys like that who can really run the ball and make plays is huge,” said Beckham. “We used to throw it fifty times a game but now it’s a completely different thing and that’s what we got to work with. It worked well.”
Rush said that while his running game was effective, it was mostly improvisation.
“It was really just seeing what the defense was giving us,” said Rush. “We just wanted to take advantage of what the defense was giving us and that happened to be a lot of holes to run through. I thought Juwan and I did a good job of reading the defense and taking what we could.”
The Hornets defense also came up big in the first half, forcing several three and outs and not giving up any points.
Zizzers Offensive Coordinator Scott Womack said their game plan going into the game was to establish a running game and keep the Hillcrest offense off the field as much as possible.
“They’re so dynamic offensively that we wanted to do everything we could to keep them off the field,” said Womack. “ We tried to pound the ball on the ground but they were loading the box on us and making it pretty difficult for us to do anything. You have to give them credit they played really well tonight.”
The Zizzers would get on the board with their first drive of the second half with a touchdown pass to tight end Andrew Cobb.
The Hornets would get two more rushing touchdowns from Rush, including one of 61 yards, to seal the 36-7 victory.
“Coming off that loss last week we really wanted to come out and play Hillcrest football tonight,” said Rush. “There’s definitely some things we need to work on and fix but overall I think we started the playoffs out right.”
Hillcrest 36, West Plains 7
West Plains 0 0 7 0
Hillcrest 6 14 16 0
Hillcrest – Rush 29 run (2-point conversion no good)
Hillcrest – Johnson 65 run (2-point conversion successful)
Hillcrest – Skidmore 28 catch (2-point conversion no good)
West Plains – Cobb 6 yard catch (Kick good)
Hillcrest – Rush 13 yard run (2-point conversion good)
Hillcrest – Rush 61 yard run (2-point conversion good)