ALJ drops R.C. Hatch
UNIONTOWN – Even the goal posts were sweating Friday night in Union Town where the Bobcats of R.C. Hatch battled extreme heat and humidity along with a gritty A.L Johnson team in their season opener. Unfortunately, a combination of penalties, bad calls and failure to capitalize in pivotal situations resulted in the first loss of the season.
The A.L. Johnson Eagles won the toss and received the ball to start the contest only to go three and out but a Bobcat fumble during the punt return on their own thirty yard line gave the ball right back. With a short field in front of him, and on the second play of the drive, junior running back Castillo Huggins cut to the outside, found the sideline and blazed by defenders for a thirty yard score. A failed two point conversion left the score 6-0.
R.C. Hatch returned the favor on the following possession by pounding the ball inside. Deroderick Norfleet had a fifty one yard run to set up a first and goal from the four yard line. Norfleet got the pitch to the outside on the next play and marched the distance. Like A.L. Johnson, the Bobcats couldn’t convert on the PAT and evened the score at 6-6 with 8:29 left in the first quarter.
The remainder of the quarter and majority of the second was a belligerent stalemate filled with punts and sloppy turnovers. The next score came with 3:03 remaining in the half. The Eagles returned a Bobcat punt five yards to begin the drive at their own twenty four yard line. Number two, Quinton McGhee, rushed for a fifteen yard gain followed by a sixty five yard touchdown pass from Mark Woods to Castillo Huggins. With Huggins’ second score of the night and a two point conversion, the Eagles took a 14-6 lead. A Bobcat fumble deep in their own territory lead to another Johnson touchdown and resulted in a 20-6 score at the half.
At the start of the third quarter, Hatch’s Kevante Shepherd returned the kickoff 70 yards for a touchdown and made it a 20-14 game. After trading additional scores, the cats pulled within eight. With 6 minutes left in the game and a 28-20 score, Hatch had a final shot but couldn’t capitalize before time expired leaving them with their first loss of the season 34-20.
R.C. Hatch head coach Jammie Abraham said, “they played a tough game but the heat definitely had a factor. We have to get used to it and pick it up a little.”
Mose Jones, A.L. Johnson’s head coach agreed about the heat. “The heat was something else and we’ll take this win, but if we don’t get better by next week, we’re in serious trouble. R.C. Hatch played a tough game but we managed to take it up a notch.”