Hillcrest takes decisive win over Bessemer City on senior night
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After Friday night's action at Hillcrest High School, the status quo remained. The hometown Hillcrest Patriots are still undefeated, and the Purple Tigers of Bessemer City remain in search of their first victory.
Hillcrest claimed victory by a convincing 47-16 margin. A scoreless second half would have still been enough to get it done- the Patriots delighted their crowd on senior night with a 40-0 halftime lead.
Senior night is a sure bet for high emotions, and they were happy ones thanks to the strong showing.
Hillcrest deferred after winning the coin toss, but the defense met Bessemer City's run-heavy attack with poise. That set the tone for a game where that became a theme.
The Patriots quickly moved the ball from there, and superstar quarterback Ethan Crawford found running back Jamarian Johnson on a screen pass for a 14-yard score. It was 6-0, just like that.
Bessemer City turned the ball over on the next drive, and it took Crawford one play and nine seconds to hit tight end Jackson Henderson for 34 yards and a touchdown.
The next Hillcrest score saw a pitch to Johnson for 39 yards and six. The Purple Tigers saw their next drive stifled by penalties and the Patriots took two plays to score again. Derrion Thomas took Crawford's third touchdown pass home from the Bessemer City 15.
Johnson scored one more time before the end of the half with a 3-yard rush. The last Hillcrest score of the half was a pass from backup quarterback Bryson Kimbrough, whose performance head coach Jamie Mitchell was proud of.
"I thought Bryson Kimbrough was outstanding. He came in and we left him in for a series or two with our 1s, and thought he was really, really good. We're excited about him."
The Patriots received the second-half kickoff and scored on a pass to Jamiryan Brown for 53 yards, the longest scoring connection of the evening.
The Purple Tigers broke through thanks to a 2-yard carry by quarterback Christopher Whittsett. That was set up by a long carry by Jalen Williams to bring his team within range.
Bessemer City found pay-dirt in the form of an 18-yard rush from workhorse running back Williams. Williams was the centerpiece of the running back stable in the game.
"I can't express how much I'm proud of [Jalen]," said Bessemer City head coach Antonio Nelson. "He's gonna be a really great ballplayer for us in the near future, just a junior, I'm just excited to see him grow."
"They kept working, they kept fighting," said Nelson. "We got on the scoreboard, so that's another positive for us. We've just gotta continue to get better."
Mitchell said he wanted his team to stay sharp and that they played well.
"That's priceless," said Mitchell with regard to senior day. "Those guys have been incredible, the numbers that they've put up have just been staggering. Sitting here at 8-0 this year, and highly, highly ranked, we had a semifinal appearance last year, so we're trying to get it one game further and see if we can't win that last one."
"We beat teams by staying physical," Johnson said. "We've been working on our physicality more... I feel like I could show a little more physicality."
"I don't want to be just another person that rolled through Hillcrest. I want to leave something here," the senior said of his legacy. "[I want to] show everybody that I'm him."
"In every aspect of the game, we did our job," said Crawford. "We just need to work on ourselves, just humble ourselves, and still work to be better than we were the day before."
"It shows a sign of achievement for us, being able to celebrate this night together with our families," he said of his senior class. "I always think the guys behind me, I'll forever want them to be better than me, because they learn from me, and I learned from somebody else. I'll try to... push them to be better than me every day."
Bessemer City fell to 0-8 after Friday's game. Hillcrest moved to 8-0 on the season. Crawford had a succinct answer with regard to the team's goals during the rest of the season.
"State championship bound, no cap. That's it."
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