Hillcrest pulls off upset over Logan-Rogersville

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ROGERSVILLE — Hillcrest felt it had failed to click at crucial moments all season.

Apparently, all the Hornets needed were the playoffs to make it happen. Hillcrest upset third-seeded Logan-Rogersville 42-28 Friday night.

“We just had to get our minds right,” lineman Austin Mahon said. “Tonight — everything worked out.”

Hillcrest had a one-point loss to Ozark Conference champion West Plains and two other games decided by five points or less this season. For head coach Justin Gerald — it was nice to see a close game go his team’s way.

2020 DISTRICT QUARTERFINALS COVERAGE

Hillcrest's Dante Sample breaks away from the Logan-Rogersville defense at Logan-Rogersville Highschool on October 30th, 2020

“We’ve been competing all year long,” Gerald said. “We’ve had some games that kind of got away from us. But we know who we have — they believed in it today.”

With the win, the Hornets snapped a streak of first-round playoff exits that went back to the district opener in 2014.

“We broke it,” running back Dante Sample, who had 174 rushing yards for the Hornets, said. “This is a big night that we were all a part of.”

Hillcrest got off to a quick start — a Logan-Rogersville player bobbled the opening kick and the Hornets recovered.

The Logan-Rogersville Wildcats play against the Hillcrest Hornets at Logan-Rogersville Highschool on October 30th, 2020

Five plays later, they scored when a fumble by running back Gunnar Brooks was recovered in the endzone by receiver Devin Oliver.

The next Logan-Rogersville possession ended in a fumble at midfield, and five plays later receiver ZaQuan Henderson caught a 30-yard touchdown pass to make it 14-0.

The Wildcats put together a nine-play drive that was capped off by a six-yard rushing touchdown from Zach Bergmann, cutting the Hornets lead to 14-7.

Hillcrest quarterback Mike Floyd responded with a 72-yard touchdown pass to Colby Baker, making it 21-7 at the end of a wild first quarter.

The Logan-Rogersville Wildcats play against the Hillcrest Hornets at Logan-Rogersville Highschool on October 30th, 2020

Logan-Rogersville tied it at 21 in the second quarter courtesy of a rushing touchdown from Bergmann and a 57-yard touchdown catch by receiver Addy Miller.

Two possessions later, Wildcats quarterback J.J. O’Neal returned a punt 86 yards for a touchdown, giving Logan-Rogersville its first lead of the night at 28-21.

After a negative play on first down gave Hillcrest a 2nd and 31, Sample broke free for a 78-yard touchdown run. The score tied the game at 28-28 going into half.

The rapid-scoring of the first half must have bothered Gerald because the Hornets came out and played keep-away the rest of the game. Logan-Rogersville ran a total of eight plays in the second half — one of them a punt.

The Logan-Rogersville Wildcats play against the Hillcrest Hornets at Logan-Rogersville Highschool on October 30th, 2020

The Hornets burned nearly seven minutes of time to open the half before receiver Gunnar Brooks ran for a 10-yard touchdown out of a wildcat formation. The extra point was good, giving Hillcrest a 35-28 lead.

Sample scored 4 minutes into the fourth quarter to make it 42-28.

Logan-Rogersville went three-and-out again after that, and Hillcrest kneeled the clock out for the win.

Hillcrest put up 474 yards of offense on the night. 180 of them were passing yards for Floyd, and 174 were rushing yards for Sample.

The Logan-Rogersville Wildcats play against the Hillcrest Hornets at Logan-Rogersville Highschool on October 30th, 2020

Sample attributes his big night to the size advantage Hillcrest’s offensive line had over the Wildcats’ defense.

“They was making some huge holes,” Sample said. “Making the right cuts was so easy. Kinda hard with the mud — I know they was struggling. But they fought through.”

Gerald has confidence his team has the ability to upset teams going into the next round of districts. Next week, the Hornets will travel to Carl Junction (5-5) — who beat Monett 45-9 Friday night.

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