By Bobby Mathews
Special For The Tribune
TRUSSVILLE — Every game in 7A Region 3 is tough, but Hewitt-Trussville didn’t expect to be down 16-0 to Vestavia Hills with time ticking down in the first quarter.
Disaster flirted with the Huskies in that first quarter as the Rebels marched down the field and scored on a two-yard pass from John Paul Head to Lane Whisenhunt to go up 7-0 with 8:38 left in the first quarter.
The Huskies started their first possession of the game from their 12-yard line, going three-and-out, but the punt went awry as the snap sailed over Riley Rigg’s head and out of the end zone for a safety.
On Vestavia’s next possession, Head capped off a four-play Rebels drive with a 24-yard pass to Warren Ainsworth. After the PAT, it was 16-0 Rebels with 6:17 left in the first, and things were not looking good for the Huskies.
But this team is nothing if not resilient. Hewitt-Trussville got back in business with a 26-yard touchdown run — on fourth-and-8 no less — by quarterback Peyton Floyd. Riley Rigg’s extra point was good, and Hewitt trailed 16-7 with 36 seconds left in the first.
Floyd would strike again to pull the Huskies within two when he went around the right side and absolutely demolished a Vestavia defender, crashing into the end zone for his second rushing score of the night.
The Huskies were within two points, 16-14, and they earned their first lead of the game with 6:38 left in the second when Floyd found Brett Moseley for a 17-yard touchdown pass. Rigg added the extra point, and the Huskies were up 21-16.
Vestavia wouldn’t go quietly, however. They answered by marching right back down the field on a five-play drive capped by a one-yard run by Head to make it 23-17 with 4:57 left until halftime.
Hewitt answered with a six-play drive that ended when Jaqson Melton found paydirt from 14 yards out. Rigg’s PAT made it 28-23, and now momentum was squarely in the corner of the Huskies.
Floyd directed one more scoring drive before the half, finding Donovan Price on a 9-yard touchdown pass to make it 35-23. With time winding down in the half and Vestavia driving, senior defensive back Rickey Gibson intercepted a Head pass in the end zone to end the half.
The second half featured more back-and-forth action, with Rigg adding a 27-yard field goal to make it 38-23 with 3:41 left in the quarter, while Vestavia clawed back behind a 12-play drive that saw Head dive in from the one with eight seconds remaining in the third. That made it 38-30, and the Rebels were still within striking distance.
Hewitt-Trussville had an answer, however. Jaqson Melton, who ran the ball 29 times for 152 yards, scored his second touchdown of the game — this one from one yard out — to put the Huskies up 45-30.
“I really give thanks to the line,” Melton said. “They open up the holes. We knew from the film they (Vestavia) were going to flow hard on the jet sweeps and the buck.”
Vestavia pulled close again, nipping at the Huskies’ heels via a seven-play drive finished with a one-yard dive by the Rebels’ Jack Lockhard to make it 45-37 Huskies.
Hewitt-Trussville took the ball down the field on their final possession of the game, forcing Vestavia to use timeouts. After Floyd dived for a first down at the Rebels’ one-yard line, the Huskies were able to use the victory formation and run out the clock on Vestavia’s dreams of an upset.
The victory puts Hewitt-Trussville in a prime spot to make yet another playoff appearance.
“It’s hard to get in the playoffs, but there’s something special about this group, and I told them that after the game,” said Hewitt-Trussville head coach Josh Floyd. “You get down 16 to nothing like we did, and guys had to make plays.”