Second-half lead disappears in Hillside loss
Much like his offense, Hillside High School head coach Antonio King was at a loss following Friday night’s game against Charlotte Country Day.
The Buccaneers pulled off a surprising 25-21 victory at 4-A Hillside, roaring back from a two-score deficit to knock off the winners of three straight 4-A PAC 6 titles. Thomas Jackson, a small, shifty receiver, caught sevenpasses for 102 yards, ran for 53 yards and a touchdown, and added a 63-yard punt return for the go-ahead score in the fourth quarter.
“I put the blame on me,” King said. “I’m in charge of having them ready to play and the last couple of weeks I haven’t been doing the job.”
Hillside gained just 82 rushing yards while averaging 2.5 yards per carry. The Hornets tried to convert six fourth downs, four before their last two desperation drives, and came up empty each time, helping Country Day begin 10 drives at their own 40-yard line or better.
“That’s something we always do,” King said of the fourth-down tries. “It’s 50-50 (to go for it), and we either sustain drives or give them the ball. We just struggled all night. If we didn’t get a first down on first down, we struggled to get a first down.”
The opening drive saw Hillside fail to convert on fourth-and-3, given the Buccaneers possession at the Hornet 32-yard line. Country Day quickly drove for the score, a 2-yard dive from quarterback Robert Tate. Donte Thomas-Williams answered with a 95-yard touchdown return on the ensuing kickoff and thanks to two ferocious defensive fronts, the halftime score was 7-7.
Country Day opened the second half with one of its few miscues, fumbling the kickoff to set up Raquaz Brannon’s 7-yard scoring run three plays later. Trevion Thompson’s leaping grab of a Nas Forte-Ferguson pass on Hillside’s next drive gave the Hornets a seemingly comfortable 21-7 lead.
But Country Day scored on each of its next two offensive drives as the Hornets offense stalled. Hillside’s final six possessions yielded just 38 yards and one interception.
With Country Day trailing 21-19 early in the fourth quarter, Jackson fielded a line-drive punt at his own 37, found a crease and got down the visitor’s sideline for the go-ahead score.
“We have to do some soul searching,” King said, “to find out what is going on.”
CHARLOTTE COUNTRY DAY 25, HILLSIDE 21
CCDS-Robert Tate 2-yard run (Jonathan Dellinger kick), 8:13
Hillside-Dontae Thomas-Williams 95-yard kickoff return (Ian Burris, Jr. kick), 7:59
Hillside-Raquaz Brannon 7-yard run (kick failed), 11:08
Hillside-Trevion Thompson 32-yard pass from Nas Forte-Ferguson (Miles Kelly pass from Forte-Ferguson), 5:53
CCDS-Thomas Jackson 26-yard run (kick failed), 3:57
CCDS-Tony Battah 5-yard pass from Tate (run failed), 11:12
CCDS-Jackson 63-yard punt return (pass failed), 10:02
RUSHING-CCDS, Jackson 8-53, Akanimo Eyo 6-28, Sheppard Wilson 8-26, Tate 10-(minus-16), Cole Bloomer 5-(minus-23). H, Thomas-Williams 15-52, Marcus Krah 4-31, Brannon 7-22, Raquan McCall 3-4, Burris Jr. 1-3, Daeshawn Stephens 1-2, Forte-Ferguson 2-(minus-28).
PASSING-CCDS, Tate 6-12-2-99, Bloomer 6-11-0-58. H, Forte-Ferguson 16-34-1-151.
RECEIVING-CCDS, Jackson 7-102, Byron Smith 3-27, Battah 2-28. H, Thompson 5-72, Kelly 4-33, Thomas-Williams 3-29, Malik Evans 2-19, Donte Edwards 1-2, Ray Green 1-(minus-4).
Records-Charlotte Country Day School 3-1, Hillside 2-2.