By Gary Lloyd
TRUSSVILLE — Some teams would probably be satisfied with playing top-ranked Hoover down to the wire and coming up just short.
Hewitt-Trussville was not.
The Huskies fell 38-24 to the Class 7A No. 1 Bucs on Friday in the first game at Hewitt-Trussville Stadium. Hoover is now 7-2 overall and 7-0 in Class 7A, Region 3. Hewitt-Trussville fell to 5-4 overall and 3-4 in the region, but because of Mountain Brook’s 19-0 loss to Spain Park and Vestavia Hills’ 14-7 loss to Tuscaloosa County, the Huskies are playoff bound as the region’s No. 4 seed.
Hewitt-Trussville players strongly believed they would be the first Alabama team since Dec. 2, 2011 to upend Hoover. They were confident from the get-go, after halftime and even when the game looked to be slipping away. There wasn’t much jubilation when they found out they had made the playoffs. They wanted this win.
“I definitely think we should have come out here and won,” said Hewitt-Trussville defensive back Jarett Nelson. “We stayed close, which is good but we wanted to win this game real bad.”
Hewitt-Trussville struck first on its opening possession, when junior quarterback Zac Thomas scampered 29 yards through the middle of the Bucs’ defense just two minutes into the game. Hoover’s Marcus Webb scored on a 16-yard run five minutes later to tie the game.
Hoover went ahead 10-7 when Hunter Schmith kicked a 22-yard field goal with 9:42 left until halftime. Hoover took a 17-7 advantage when quarterback Jack Hutcheson connected with Quincy Cox for a 13-yard TD with 2:08 until the break.
The Huskies marched down the field quickly and T.J. McGettigan split the uprights from 46 yards out to make it a 17-10 game at the half.
Hoover’s Bradrick Shaw bulled his way for an 11-yard TD early in the third quarter to put Hoover up 24-10. That’s when it got interesting.
Hewitt-Trussville cut the deficit to 24-17 with 5:48 remaining in the third quarter when Thomas scored from a yard out. On the ensuing kickoff, Hoover fumbled and it was recovered by Hewitt-Trussville’s Quin Jackson at the Hoover 24-yard line. Thomas scored on a 9-yard run five plays later to tie the game.
Hewitt-Trussville was marching the ball early in the fourth quarter, when after Thomas connected with Cyle Moore for a 21-yard gain, Moore fumbled and the Bucs recovered. Hoover turned the ensuing drive into points when Webb dove over the pile for a 1-yard score. Hewitt-Trussville’s next two drives stalled and Shaw scored from one yard out with 3:03 left to put Hoover up 38-24.
“We knew what they were doing, we just couldn’t stop them,” said Huskies linebacker Bailey McElwain.
Hewitt-Trussville got the ball all the way to the Bucs’ 1-yard line on the next possession, but a four-yard loss, intentional grounding call and interception sealed the game for Hoover.
“We wanted to stick with them until the fourth quarter and we wanted to win the game in the fourth quarter,” Thomas said.
For Hoover, Webb rushed 23 times for 188 yards and two touchdowns. Shaw carried the ball 23 times for 133 yards and two scores.
Hewitt-Trussville head coach Josh Floyd said he and his players wanted to win, but playing as well as they did against the top team in the state “encourages” him.
“We just didn’t get it done,” he said.
For Hewitt-Trussville, Thomas completed 16-of-27 passes for 242 yards and two interceptions. He rushed 19 times for 49 yards and three touchdowns. Moore caught seven passes for 111 yards. Dalton Meadows grabbed two passes for 51 yards, Noah Igbinoghene caught two for 35 yards and Grayson Cash hauled in two passes for 33 yards. Jarrion Street rushed 16 times for 39 yards.
“They’re a really good team,” said Nelson, who had an interception. “I’m proud of us for competing with them, but we’ll see them again.”
Contact Gary Lloyd at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @GaryALloyd.