By Brandon Speck/Monroe Journal
HAMILTON – Hamilton caught six of Eupora quarterback Trey Pittman’s passes, one of them returned 57 yards for a touchdown and the Lions took the division’s steering wheel with a 32-6 win at Jimmie Moore Field Friday night.
The No. 3 Lions scored three touchdowns off Eupora turnovers to improve to 7-1 on the season, 2-0 inside Division 2-2A.
Of the game’s 10 turnovers, Hamilton picked six passes and recovered two fumbles.
“They turned it over early. We took advantage of it and got them on their heels,” said eighth-year Hamilton coach Ray Weeks. “It’s the biggest win we’ve had since I’ve been here against a quality football team.”
Eupora (4-3, 1-1) started the scoring in the first quarter on Pittman’s 18-yard pass to Devin Simmons. The game’s opening 5 minute, 35 second drive saw starting back Vandy Smith run six times for 32 yards before leaving the game with a leg injury.
It was the second big blow to the Eagles in three weeks, losing quarterback Jamal Roby to a broken leg three weeks ago.
It may not have mattered Friday.
Sander Grondman kicked two first half field goals for Hamilton (32, 18) and quarterback Booty Sims had a 4-yard run after his own interception, the first of his three as Hamilton took a 13-6 lead at the half.
After a three-and-out to open the third, Hamilton’s Jeremy Lindsey recovered a Javoris Draine fumble and Lion junior Deion Howard scored from 46 yards away two plays later.
“He made a great run. To me, that changed the complexion of the game,” Eupora head coach Junior Graham said. “At Eupora, when you lose your best offensive player, and one of our top defensive players, we just don’t replace him.”
Howard was tackled on the run but rolled over a defender and never went to a knee as he kept running past stopped defenders for a 20-6 lead.
Less than two minutes later, Sims picked Pittman and went 57 yards to paydirt for a 26-6 lead.
The Lions tacked on one more in the fourth on Quinshay Heard’s 3-yard run.
Senior Austin Welch had watched his team lose the last two games against Eupora a combined 86-31. He credited Howard’s run for providing Friday’s biggest spark.
“He did three rolls, a flip then jumped back up and ran in the end zone,” Welch said. “We just went crazy after that. It kind of set the tone.”