Junior Hilltoppers slip by TAD in Middle 7 mudbath

By Wes Holtsclaw

   It was a complete mudbath at Brown-Childress Stadium on Tuesday night, as sloppy conditions factored out during Middle Seven Conference action, with the Science Hill Junior Hilltoppers bouncing back with an opening second-half drive to top the T.A. Dugger Junior Cyclones 8-6.
   "It was wet, and awful conditions, but I'm proud of our guys," said TAD coach John Oakley. "I wish we could've won it for their sakes. We played a good team, and it came down to one play. I felt bad for our guys."
   TAD opened the contest but fell short against a powerful 'Topper defense.
   However, once Science Hill took possession, Dave Rider Field was rumbling with some excellent defense by the Jr. Cyclones.
   With three straight shots on Topper running back David Alexander, Brent Shaver and the gang forced quarterback Robert Frye to fall with a fumble to the boys in orange and black.
   Shaver was the key cog running for his squad, blasting 33 yards downfield on a second-down play. However, Ben Murray and the 'Toppers got the best of T.A. Dugger inside the Science Hill red zone at the end of the first quarter.
   The second quarter had Cyclones written all over it, as T.A. Dugger laid the smackdown all over Science Hill. This of course set up some exceptional field possession for the Junior 'Clones.
   With nice runs from Josh Hutchins and Shaver, Preston Smith lured Science Hill to an offsides penalty in their red zone, setting up a one-yard score from Shaver. However, Ben Murray told TAD no way, and put the cork in the bottle of the conversion attempt.
   Science Hill got another shot to redeem itself before the end of the half, but Shaver and Big Will Johnson helped their defense grind the 'Toppers into some hamburger meat with a 6-0 lead at halftime.
   With the rain pouring and the field turning into a big swamp, the quiet crowd would be silenced because Science Hill was fired up to drive the ball downfield one good time, and it would cost T.A. Dugger at the end.
   Alexander came out of the gate shaking his head as he ran onto the field, and with a little help from Nat Scott they balanced the game-winning equation in six plays.
   Taking the ball at its own 45-yard line, Science Hill marched downfield with a pair of 20-yard gains from Alexander and Scott, with a nine-yard gain setting up a 5-yard touchdown plow from Scott. An Alexander conversion gave Science Hill an 8-6 lead as their linemen got off the ball for one good set.
   Science Hill would then halt the Cyclone offense and begin to conquer the field again, this time with Alexander gaining 20 and 11 for the 'Toppers. However, Trinity Allen saved the day for T.A. Dugger, stopping Alexander for a six-yard gain only feet shy of the goal line.
   But T.A. Dugger would struggle again on offense, giving the ball up to Science Hill, which received several penalties from the crew. With some good defense and an unsportsmanlike conduct call, the Junior Cyclones took the ball with 2:19 left in the game.
   The opportunities ceased to present themselves for the Junior Cyclones, as a double trick pass from Preston Smith to Austin Taylor fell incomplete and gave Science Hill the big 8-6 win.
   The contest boosted Science Hill into a top spot among the conference standings, while T.A. Dugger will face an unnamed opponent from the rival IMAC Junior High Conference in a big eight-team showdown next week.