The Bulldogs had revenge on their mind, and that is exactly what Hampton got.
Hampton scored early and often in a 61-21 victory over Grace Christian in the TSSAA Class 2A Quarterfinals at a chilly JC Campbell Stadium to avenge last season’s postseason loss.
(Full audio and photo gallery below)
The win moves the Bulldogs into the state final four, and they will host Marion County – who dispatched Tyner 28-14 – on Friday, Nov. 27 with a berth in the state championship on the line.
On Friday night, it was all Hampton.
The final score surprised many – including Hampton Head Coach Mike Lunsford.
“I never would have thought it would happen – I’ll be honest with you,” said Lunsford. ”It’s just a credit to my coaching staff, who did a tremendous job. And the players executed and made it work.”
After the opening kickoff was downed at the one, the Hampton defense recorded a three-and-out and then recorded a safety on a bobbled snap to give the home team an early 2-0 lead. Coby Jones struck on the first offensive play of the next series with a 36-yard run as Hampton jumped out to a 9-0 lead before two minutes had run off the clock.
Nathan Petitt put the Rams on the board with a 16-yard run, but Adam McClain answered as he capped off an impressive Bulldog drive with a three-yard run. Jones struck on the defensive side of the ball with an interception that set Hampton up in Grace territory, and C.J. Wilson jumped on a fumble in the end zone to give Hampton a 23-7 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Grace Christian’s Austin Kirby struck with a 60-yard touchdown pass to start the second period, but Jerry Lunsford answered for the Bulldogs with another touchdown.
After Jones recovered a fumble on the next Ram drive, Lunsford pushed the lead to 36-14 with a five-yard run. Kirby capped the half with six-seconds remaining with a QB sneak at the goal line as the first half ended with the Bulldogs holding a 36-21 advantage.
In the third quarter, the Bulldogs took control even more.
Lunsford capped off the half’s opening drive with a 17-yard touchdown run, and McClain scored on a seven-yard scamper after Hampton recovered an onside kick. The Bulldogs defense forced the Rams off the field on fourth down, and the Bulldogs took a 48-21 lead into the final period.
Lunsford opened the scoring in the fourth with a 66-yard touchdown run. Nathan Norris recorded an interception for the second straight game to end the next Grace Christian drive. The teams traded fumbles before McClain capped off the scoring with a 77-yard touchdown run that kicked off the celebration with just over four minutes to play.
McClain and Lunsford led the way with 223 and 211 yards, respectively, on 19 carries apiece. Jones went 5-of-8 passing for 95 yards and added 45 yards on the ground.
Coach Lunsford was quick to point out the difference in the game was the offensive line.
“They’re not real big,” Lunsford said. “But they have spent a lot of time in that little old ugly weight room up there. On snow days those kids came in, and we didn’t even have heat in it, and they were in there working their butts off. They were bigger than us, but we didn’t seem to have too much trouble blocking.”
The Bulldogs will turn their attention to Marion County for the state semifinal matchup.
Hampton Head Coach Mike Lunsford:
Hampton Quarterback Coby Jones
Hampton Running Backs Adam McClain and Jerry Lunsford
Photo Gallery (for more photos, click here.)