Airline quarterback Hayden Hildebrand was almost perfect Friday night against Haughton.
And he didn’t even know it.
Hildebrand finished 18-of-22 passing for 289 yards and two touchdowns, and the Vikings (6-1, 2-0 in 1-5A) blew past Haughton 38-14.
“I had no idea,” said Hildebrand, who completed 13 straight, a stretch that started in the first quarter and ended in the fourth, and was 18-of-19 before finishing with three incompletions.
“I knew at halftime that I was having a pretty good game,” Hildebrand said. “Receivers were making great catches. Not every throw I had was right on the money. They had some good catches, bailed me out on a few of those plays.”
Hildebrand also ran for a score, Airline’s first points of the game on its first drive to set an early tone.
“We were really efficient on both sides of the ball tonight,” Airline coach Bo Meeks said. “Haughton played hard, so we had to be at our best. But I think that was the most complete game we’ve played.”
Haughton (5-2, 0-2) has now lost two straight to begin district play. The Buccaneers turned the ball over three times in the first half, including a fumble on the game’s opening kickoff.
“It seems every game, we have a few bad plays to get us in a hole,” Haughton coach Rodney Guin said.
Hildebrand and the Vikings took advantage. With the game tied at 7 after a 14-yard scoring run from Haughton’s Jarred Craft, Hildebrand completed a 6-yard touchdown pass to Chase Rivers on fourth-and-goal.
Then, after a Haughton interception, Hildebrand hit Michael Nunnery on a 61-yard touchdown pass right down the middle of the defense.
“Hayden was on fire,” Meeks said. “He’s unbelievable. Our line did a great job of protecting him, and our receivers were catching everything he threw at them. I’m glad he’s on our team.”
Haughton, which was able to move the ball well at times, drove down the field and appeared to have a score at the end of the second quarter, but a holding penalty negated a 27-yard touchdown pass.
Airline started the third quarter with another long drive for a score, going 80 yards in nine plays capped by a 3-yard touchdown run from Nunnery, who had 84 rushing yards. Roderick Spurlock finished with 48 yards on the ground for Airline.
“When we have games with Michael and Roderick rushing like that, we’re really hard to stop,” Hildebrand said. “Defenses don’t know whether to play the pass and drop a lot of people into coverage or stack the box. We had three rushing touchdowns and two passing. That’s a pretty solid night.”
Haughton responded with a scoring drive, a 5-yard touchdown pass from James Almond to Jerrod Craft.
But it was all Airline to close the game.
The Vikings got a field goal and another touchdown run from Nunnery (36 yards) and Demontre Evans sacked Almond on fourth down to end two straight Haughton drives late in the fourth quarter.
Haughton will try to pick up its first district win against next week when the Buccaneers play Captain Shreve.
“We are going to be fin. We were right here last year,” said Guin, whose team’s two losses last year came in back-to-back weeks against Byrd and Airline. “We recovered and won a playoff game. Everything is going to be good.”
Airline’s win sets up a huge 1-5A showdown at home against Parkway (7-0, 2-0) next week.
“Parkway has an outstanding team, and coach (David) Feaster does a great job,” Meeks said. “It’s going to take an outstanding week of practice to get ready for them. It’s going to be a heck of an atmosphere next Friday night.”
Connect with Brent Shirley on Twitter at @bshirley08.