It wasn’t exactly Curt Schilling and the infamous bloody sock from the 2004 American League playoffs, but Jonah Hill’s performance Thursday night might be the high school equivalent.
Hill — who wore a walking boot all week after injuring his ankle twice in the past three weeks — came off the bench to lead Hillcrest High School to a 29-19 victory over Parkview at Shumate Stadium.
“Coming in, we were not planning on playing,” Hill said. “I was the emergency quarterback and I went in and we took it down and scored. We just went with it from there. “
In arguably the most anticipated matchup ever between the two schools, Hill’s entrance with 7:17 left in the second quarter stole the momentum from the Parkview sideline.
Parkview (6-1) was off to the best start in school history and held a one-game lead in the Ozark Conference. Hillcrest (6-1), coming off its first loss of the season and playing without its top two quarterbacks, seemed primed for another fall.
And in the first half, it looked like the Vikings might win in a rout. A safety, followed by an 87-yard kickoff return on the free kick by Cole Jenkins, staked the Vikings to a quick 9-0 lead. Parkview’s Taylor Middlebrooks added a 30-yard field goal in the second quarter.
Enter Hill, who mastered a 17-play, 80-yard drive that cut the lead to 12-7 on Juwan Johnson’s 3-yard touchdown run.
“Jonah had not practiced all week and we weren’t sure what we were going to be able to do offensively without a quarterback,” Hillcrest coach John Beckham said. “Jonah in warmups looked pretty good but we still weren’t sure. We were searching for answers and we didn’t know if Jonah was going to be the answer or not.”
The Hornets grabbed their first lead on their first offensive play of the second half, a 64-yard run by Johnson. Parkview, clearly on its heels, finally found some offensive footing and capped a 74-yard drive with a 3-yard run by Jenkins to retake the lead 19-12.
But Hill — who rushed for 116 yards on 20 carries — sparked the Hornets again with a 50-yard touchdown run with 8:25 left to put Hillcrest back in front.
The decisive moment came on Parkview’s next possession. With the Vikings driving, an errant pitch on an option play was recovered by Hillcrest’s Antonio Juarez. Johnson, who had 115 yards on 15 carries, scored the clincher on his third touchdown run with 2:32 left.
“We had a big turnover there in the fourth quarter where we had a chance to take the lead, or at least tie it with a field goal,” Parkview coach Anthony Hays said. “Our kids played hard and their kids played hard.
“It was a great game for the city and unfortunately, we came out on the losing end.”
Jenkins finished with 146 yards on 22 carries to lead Vikings, who are now tied atop the conference with Hillcrest and Lebanon.