Hampton Express rolls over Happy Valley

Published 12:32 am Saturday, September 18, 2021

BY IVAN SANDERS
STAR SPORTS EDITOR
ivan.sanders@elizabethton.com
HAPPY VALLEY – For nearly eight minutes of the first quarter, it looked like there was going to be a tight-fisted contest waged between Happy Valley and the visiting Hampton Bulldogs.

However, what transpired for the next 40 minutes of play was the Hampton Express rolling around, through, and down Warrior Hill on their way to a 48-0 victory which kept the Bulldogs record unblemished as they head into a bye week before squaring off with the South Greene Rebels which could very well be for the Region 1 2-A conference title.

After both teams took a couple of turns exchanging punts to open the game, Hampton managed to put together a well-executed drive keep the ball on the ground for a nine-play drive capped off by a Conor Jones four-yard scoring scamper.

Michael Harrison blasted the point-after attempt through the uprights for the 7-0 Bulldogs lead.

On the ensuing drive, the Warriors appeared to be in business when quarterback Drew Blevins completed a 38-yard completion to Jamie Esterline who carried the ball to the Hampton 29-yard line to end the first quarter.

After a three-yard loss on a carry by Andrew Little, three straight incompletions ended any Warrior hope of a score.

Taking over on their own 32-yard line, the ‘Dogs orchestrated a 10-play drive that was capped off by a Levi Lunsford burst from the four-yard line to make it 14-0 after Harrison’s PAT.

Once again, the Warriors couldn’t sustain a drive after the kickoff and ended up punting back to Hampton with 4:36 remaining in the half.

It appeared that the Warriors had took advantage of a Hampton fumble on the ensuing drive as no whistle was heard but the officials said that the play was over which sent Happy Valley head coach Jason Jarrett on the warpath with the officiating crew resulting in a flag against the Warrior head coach.

Hampton took advantage of the call as Jones stepped back and threw a 46-yard scoring dart to Chance Point for a 21-0 Bulldog lead after the Harrison boot.

Things went from bad to worse for the Warriors as on their ensuing possession, quarterback Blevins was picked off by Hampton defensive back Tyler Thompson for a 60-yard pick six to push the ‘Dog advantage to 28-0 with 2:30 remaining in the first half.

Hampton used their timeouts on the next Warrior drive to save some clock which ended up paying dividends as the ‘Dog defense rose to the occasion to get the ball back in the hands of their offense with close to two minutes to play in the half.

The ‘Dogs wouldn’t need that much time however as they covered 48 yards in no time as Jones found Point once again on a 25-yard touchdown toss.

Harrison remained perfect on the night by converting the PAT and Hampton took the 35-0 lead to the halftime break.

With a running clock to open the second half, Hampton went on an 11-play drive that consumed almost nine minutes of the quarter but was stalled when quarterback Dylan Trivett threw off his back foot and was picked off by the Warriors Blake Garmon at the Happy Valley 12-yard line.

After a quick three and out by the Warriors, Hampton’s Trivett was Johnny on the spot for the ‘Dogs when he took a short punt off the foot of Cameron Cochran from the back off the end zone that landed at the 20-yard line and Trivett scooped the ball up and raced into the end zone to make it a 42-0 lead at the end of the third quarter as Harrison converted yet again.

Happy Valley continued to struggle moving the football and after one punt was recovered after hitting a Hampton player and being recovered by the Warriors, a second punt was required after the Hampton defense held the line.

Josh Sweeney capped off the Bulldog scoring when he hauled in a Trivett pass and raced 58 yards to paydirt to give Hampton their final score after Harrison missed his first PAT of the night.

“In the first quarter, you have got to find out what they are going to try to do to you,” Hampton head coach Michael Lunsford said. “You have an idea but you still have to figure some stuff out.

“We had a little bit of a slow start but they are a good football team. They don’t have a lot of depth but are well coached for the ones that they have out there.”

Hampton has a bye week before their big showdown with South Greene. Lunsford was asked what will have to be done to get ready for the Rebels.

“We have to be focused and prepared in practice and get better one percent every day in practice. This is what you have prepared for and you can’t let the moment be too big for you,” he stated.

Happy Valley will travel to Stoney Creek next Friday for a cross-town showdown with the Unaka Rangers.