Hanceville running back RJ Evans sprints down the sideline for a big gain in Friday night's 48-14 win over Sumiton Christian. (Nick Griffin for The Cullman Tribune)
HANCEVILLE – The 2018 season for Hanceville (Class 3A, Region 5), and the first game for new Head Coach Cody McCain, started with fireworks on Friday night as the Bulldogs routed the visiting Sumiton Christian Eagles, 48-14.
Hanceville’s offense did most of its damage on the ground, racking up 318 yards rushing to go along with 88 through the air. Senior running back RJ Evans was unstoppable in his five first-half carries and he got the game and season started on the right note when he burst through for a 59-yard touchdown on Hanceville’s first play of the game. Evans finished with 138 yards and two touchdowns in the first half. The Hanceville defense also had a stellar night, allowing just 58 yards of offense in the first half and keeping the Eagles’ offense on its heels for most of the night.
After two touchdowns from Evans early in the first quarter, sophomore quarterback Bo Joles connected with a streaking Fred Ellis for a 45-yard touchdown and made it 22-0 Bulldogs. Hanceville didn’t do much through the air, but Joles finished his night a perfect 4-for-4 with 88 yards and the touchdown to Ellis.
After an Eagles’ muffed punt, the Hanceville offense was back in striking distance late in the first quarter. Sophomore running back Allen Huckaby made it 30-0 Bulldogs just a couple of plays later with a shifty 13-yard touchdown run. After forcing another punt from the Eagles, Hanceville put one more score on the board before halftime when Ellis easily found the end zone from 10 yards out on an option play and made it 36-0 at the break.
The Bulldogs were able to get a lot of players on the field in the second half and managed to score one more time when the defense forced a fumble into the end zone that was recovered by freshman defensive lineman Tristan Herrera. The defensive touchdown put Hanceville up 48-0 going into the fourth quarter.
Sumiton Christian’s offense was able to score on two big pass plays late in the game, but it was too little too late for the Eagles and Hanceville put away game one of the season, 48-14.
McCain and his team were certainly energized on the sideline and Evans’ opening-play touchdown went a long way toward calming nerves early. McCain really likes what he has seen out of Evans so far and is excited to see what kind of season he could have this year.
“That was huge. We had a script, I like to script out about 10 plays to start the game with and we were really trying to see how they were going to line up to our trips. We were playing Fred on the perimeter out there and we had a package to try and get him a ball out there, and RJ just took it to the house to start out with,” McCain joked. “He’s worked extremely hard. I’m very pleased with his work ethic and the thing that he needed to work on was becoming an in-between-the-tackles runner. He’s played a lot of receiver the past couple years, but at his size, being 6’3” 240 lbs., he’s an NFL-sized back, and he’s got to learn how to do that. He’s got good enough speed to be a threat there, too, so I’m really happy for him and I feel good about what our playmakers were able to do tonight.”
McCain liked a lot of what he saw during his first night on the sidelines at Hanceville and touched on some of his biggest takeaways from this win before the Bulldogs travel to face the Fairview Aggies next week.
“I feel like we’ve got good, skilled athletes. I think we have five or six of them that can do really good things with the ball in their hands and I think each one of them made some good plays tonight. It was good to be able to get the younger guys in; I’d like for them to be a little sharper when they get in, but that’s just part of it,” McCain said. “Sumiton kept playing and kept fighting and were able to get a couple touchdowns on us, but I was pleased with the effort. It’s been right at a year since we’ve won a game here so for those guys that was kind of the moment they needed to have tonight. I’m proud of our guys; they were able to get the win and we’re looking forward to playing Fairview next week.”
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