Friday night's high school football game between the visiting Hixson Wildcats and the East Hamilton Hurricanes was a battle for first place in District 6-AA, but you would never know it by looking at the final score.
The only thing missing was a woodshed
The Hurricanes have the top spot all to themselves on this first weekend in October following their 49-0 romp over the Wildcats in a game where the mercy rule took effect less than two minutes into the second half.
Needless to say, East Hamilton coach Ted Gatewood must be getting his message across.
As a former outstanding offensive lineman, Gatewood wants to run the football more than anything. His Hurricanes did an outstanding job of that, leaving the coach with a huge smile on his face.
"We did a great job of responding to the challenge tonight, but we've talked all year about finishing. We're getting after it on both sides of the ball and that's the key," Gatewood said after his team had improved to 6-1 overall and 4-0 in 6-AA.
"We've seen Hixson come back before, so we knew what they were capable of doing. We knew that we had to play hard for four quarters as we had our work cut out for us, but it was a good night for the big guys up front," he continued with a smile, taking pride in an outstanding job by his offensive line that opened huge holes the entire game.
Big, bullish Logan Jackson had another outstanding performance as he finished the evening with 149 yards on 16 carries while scoring four touchdowns.
Jackson, who has rarely played in the second half all fall, had 134 yards on 13 carries in the first half when he scored on runs of 10, 8 and 3 yards. His only TD in the second half came on the fourth play and it was a run from the 6 with 10:16 remaining, giving the Hurricanes a 35-0 lead. He had the rest of the evening off.
That score put the mercy rule into effect, which means the clock runs continuously except for injuries or timeouts.
Jackson, who entered the game with 887 yards on just 94 carries and 78 points, now has 1,036 yards and 102 points.
He's been a starter for the past four years and he knows what it feels like to be on the receiving end of such a lopsided score.
"It feels great to turn things around. This was a big win as we knew it was for first place and probably for the district championship. My job is easy when you have huge holes to run through like I had," he added, praising the work of senior offensive linemen David Hughley and Dennis Fielder.
Hixson coach Jason Fitzgerald certainly didn't beat around the bush when the final horn sounded.
"That's a really good football team right there," he said, pointing toward the Hurricanes as they headed toward their post-game meeting with Gatewood.
"We've played some good football teams that I thought were physical, but nobody has been more physical than East Hamilton. They soundly beat us in every facet of the game, but that's what we want our program to look like one day," the veteran coach added.
The Hurricanes finished with 362 total yards, including 267 on the ground and 95 through the air.
While Jackson was the leading rusher, Lamond Greer and Matt Milita both finished with 47 yards on four and nine carries, respectively. Greer had a 10-yard touchdown run in the third quarter while Milita's 5-yard TD burst capped the scoring with 2:35 to play.
Quarterback Hunter Moore completed five of eight passes for 95 yards, including a long of 54 to Cody Knox on a short screen to start the second half.
While Knox had the big gainer, Tony Francois had three catches for 30 yards while Bailey Lenoir had another for 11.
Kicker Cameron Carter was true on all seven conversion kicks and six of his kickoffs went into the end zone for touchbacks.
Hixson, now 4-3 overall and 3-1 in 6-AA, was limited to 102 total yards, including 84 on the ground and just 18 through the air.
Kedrick Bradley was the leading rusher with 35 yards on 12 carries while Trey Coleman had 25 on seven trips and Isaiah Robinson 20 yards on six attempts.
Allante Novene was the leading receiver with three catches for 14 yards, but the air-tight Hurricane defense never let him get loose.
East Hamilton finished with 15 first downs while Hixson was limited to just seven.
Hixson plays at East Ridge next Friday while East Hamilton will be at home to host the Tyner Rams.
HIXSON 0 0 0 0 -- 0\
EAST HAMILTON 14 14 14 7 -- 49
EH -- Logan Jackson 10 run (Cameron Carter kick), 7:01 left in first;
EH -- Jackson 8 run (Carter kick), 1:54 left in first;
EH -- Jackson 3 run (Carter kick), 8:03 left in second;
EH -- Hunter Moore 1 run (Carter kick), 1:33 left in second;
EH -- Jackson 6 run (Carter kick), 10:16 left in third;
EH -- Lamond Greer 10 run (Carter kick), 5:24 left in third;
EH -- Matt Milita 5 run (Carter kick), 2:35 left in fourth.
(Email John Hunt at firstname.lastname@example.org)