It took nearly a half for Hough’s football team to get the ball moving consistently.
After that, the Huskies didn’t have any problems in taking a 21-13 victory over nearby rival Hopewell on Friday night in the teams’ MECKA 4A opener.
Bishop Ford ran for 115 yards and one touchdown, a 1-yard run in the third quarter, and quarterback Will Coleman threw for a score in the fourth quarter for Hough (3-2, 1-0), ranked No. 12 in the Observer’s Sweet 16 poll.
But it was a play near the end of the first half that opened the door for the Huskies – a 42-yard punt return by Corey Bell for a touchdown that put Hough ahead 7-6 at halftime.
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“That punt return really changed the game,” Huskies coach Miles Aldridge said. “Our defense had hung in there and kept us in the game, but our offense hadn’t played so well.
“But that punt return sparked us before the half, and we came out in the second half and just played harder. That’s what it came down to.”
Before the punt return, the Titans (1-4, 0-1) had kept Hough in check thanks to their defense. The Huskies were held to just four first downs and 66 yards of total offense over the first two quarters, and went 3-and-out on three of their first five possessions.
The closest Hough came to breaking the shutout occurred late in the second quarter, when the Huskies drove to the Hopewell 6. But their drive stalled, and Zach Stearns missed a 23-yard field goal attempt.
Meanwhile, the Titans were able to get on the scoreboard early, with Dimiitris Camp’s 1-yard touchdown run capping an eight-play, 84-yard drive on Hopewell’s first possession of the game.
“We were outplaying them,” Titans coach Matthew Jenkins said. “We outplayed them for 23 minutes in the first half. But they changed their scheme a little bit (in the second half), and they did a better job of getting off the ball.”
Ford’s touchdown run and Coleman’s pass to Sutton put Hough up 21-6, but Hopewell got back in the game thanks to Tre Exume’s interception and 53-yard return midway through the fourth quarter, cutting the Huskies’ lead to 21-13.
But Hough sealed the win with its next possession, ending with Stearns’ 33-yard field goal with 1:50 remaining.