Hawks’ season ends in rout to Blue Devils

HOPEWELL – Skyline played right with Hopewell for most of the first half of Friday’s Group 3A second-round playoff game. Then the Blue Devils’ high-powered offense came to life.

Hopewell scored 40 unanswered points beginning late in the second quarter to turn a 7-point Skyline lead into a 67-28 rout, sending the Blue Devils on to the third round against James Monroe while ending the Hawks’ season for the second straight year.

“They hit big plays and we couldn’t stop them,” Hawks senior lineman Joe Pingley said. “Once they hit big plays they started running the ball hard.”

The Blue Devils (10-2) finished with 574 yards in the victory, but perhaps Hopewell’s biggest play of the night came in the final 90 seconds of the first half. Facing second-and-16 from their own 9 and trailing 21-20 with 1:28 left in the first half, the Blue Devils called a reverse for running back Ronnie Walker. The senior took the handoff sweeping to the right, spun out of a tackle around the Hopewell 25 – Skyline’s coaches and fans believed Walker’s knee touched the ground – before finally being brought down at the Skyline 28.

Hopewell was in the end zone four plays later on a 22-yard pass from quarterback Cameren Hill to Ronnie Monroe that gave the Blue Devils a 27-21 lead with 2 seconds left before halftime.

“That was definitely a momentum turn for them, for sure,” Hawks coach Heath Gilbert said. “I thought we had a long field too, felt pretty good having them in a long (second) down situation. They hit us with a reverse and we couldn’t get him down. I’m not too sure his knee wasn’t down in the middle of the field like that, which wouldn’t have allowed them to get that final play, but credit to those kids, man. They have some athletes over there. They have some kids that can block and get physical. I felt like the biggest thing was their run game just really wore us down in the second half.”

Hopewell’s score in the final seconds of the first half was the second of six unanswered touchdowns the Blue Devils would score in mounting a 54-21 lead with 8:44 to play.

The Blue Devils – who had over 130 yards in penalties and were flagged for a couple first-half personal fouls – had 384 yards rushing, led by Walker’s 169 yards on 13 carries. Skyline’s defense – which forced three first-half turnovers – struggled all night bringing down Hopewell’s athletic ball carriers, while Hill completed 14 of 17 passes for 190 yards and four touchdowns, two of which went to Ronnie Monroe (four catches, 68 yards).

“We’ve gotta be better tackling,” Gilbert said. “The guys tried as hard as they could. There’s big linemen that they’re trying to get off too at the same time, and you’ve gotta be on your keys so when they run the misdirection you can see it. If we’re not seeing it we’re not in our right spot, filling in the correct area, gets us in situations too.”

Hopewell scored the game’s first points on Walker’s 4-yard run in the first quarter but Skyline (6-6) came right back with a 74-yard touchdown drive to knot it up, which ended when senior Jay Roy got behind the defense and hauled in a 48-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Dylan Hamman.

The two teams traded turnovers on the next four possessions before Hopewell took a 14-7 lead on Nasir Cooper’s 3-yard plunge with 11:10 left in the second quarter.

Again Skyline answered, as a 30-yard kickoff return by Brad Halsey gave the Hawks excellent field position at their own 40. From there, Skyline needed just five plays as Hamman scored untouched on a 16-yard run to tie the score.

The Hawks then recovered their third fumble two offensive plays later at the Hopewell 17, setting up a touchdown pass from Hamman to Brandon Wells on the next play that gave Skyline a 21-14 lead 8:12 left in the first half.

“We were feeling really good coming into that game,” said Pingley, who forced one of Hopewell’s six total fumbles. “We thought we could hang with them. We figured we could win this game. … Our defense worked hard all week in practice, we just tried to do what we could.”

Hopewell started its string of 40 unanswered points with a 13-play, 62-yard scoring drive on its next possession.

Hamman completed 18 of 30 passes for 269 yards and three touchdowns, including a 74-yard scoring pass to Roy (seven catches, 159 yards, two touchdowns) midway through the fourth quarter. However, Hamman also threw five interceptions that turned into 28 points for Hopewell, including Monroe’s 38-yard interception return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter.

Skyline, which finished with 326 yards of offense, mustered only 54 yards rushing.

“He’s my MVP of this year, man,” Gilbert said of Hamman. “I’m really proud of him. … Dylan has really took this quarterback job by the horns and I’m proud of him. A lot of stuff’s on his shoulders when we can’t run the ball very well.”

Friday marked the second straight year Hopewell has ended Skyline’s season, although the Hawks did advance a round further in the playoffs this fall.

“I’m really proud of what they did,” Gilbert said. “Halfway through the year we were on the fence about what kind of team we were gonna be and the kids decided they were gonna work hard. They really committed as a whole group to doing that.”

Contact staff writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or bfauber@nvdaily.com

Box Score
Blue Devils 67, Hawks 28
Skyline 7 14 0 7 – 28
Hopewell 7 20 13 28 – 67
First Quarter
H: Walker 4 run (Irvin kick), 7:48.
S: Roy 48 pass from Hamman (Dueweke kick), 5:14.
Second Quarter
H: Cooper 3 run (Irvin kick), 11:10.
S: Hamman 16 run (Dueweke kick), 9:00.
S: Wells 17 pass from Hamman (Dueweke kick), 8:12.
H: Hill 2 run (kick failed), 3:14.
H: Monroe 22 pass from Hill (pass failed), 0:02.
Third Quarter
H: Camara 23 pass from Hill (pass failed), 5:12.
H: Monroe 6 pass from Hill (Irvin kick), 1:46.
Fourth Quarter
H: Crawford 18 pass from Hill (Irvin kick), 9:02.
H: Monroe 38 interception return (Irvin kick), 8:44.
S: Roy 74 pass from Hamman (Dueweke kick), 7:03.
H: Smith 2 run (Irvin kick), 6:54.
H: Smith 3 run (Irvin kick), 4:39.
First downs 12 22
Rushes-yards 23-54 49-384
Passing yards 272 190
Comp-Att-TD-INT 19-31-3-5 14-7-4-0
Fumbles-lost 3-1 6-3
Punts-avg. 4-26.3 1-38
Penalties-yards 4-37 12-132
RUSHING: Skyline, Diggs4-11, Hamman 10-24, Halsey 5-6, Scott 3-9, Carson 1-4; Hopewell, Crawford 9-85, Hill 11-61, Cooper 9-38, Walker 13-169, Smith 3-31, Rockwell 2-9.
PASSING: Skyline, Hamman 18-30-269-3-5, Scott 1-1-3-0-0; Hopewell, Hill 14-17-190-4-0.
RECEIVING: Skyline, Wells 6-54, Roy 7-159, Tasker 2-35, Burke 1-4, Abel 1-9, Diggs 1-8, Hugo 1-3; Hopewell, Figueroa 1-7, Yarbrough 2-10, Westry 1-16, Coffey 3-48, Monroe 5-68, Camara 1-23, Crawford 1-18.