PIEDMONT In the final regular season start of his career, Hillcrest senior quarterback Collin Sneed went out with a bang Friday night. The three-year starter threw for 296 yards and five touchdowns as the Rams defeated Woodmont 42-7 at Whitt Memorial Field.
The Hillcrest victory, combined with Westside’s win over Hanna and Laurens’ win over Greenwood, means the Rams (9-2, 5-2 Region 1-AAAA) finish tied for second in the region. For playoff seeding purposes, Hillcrest wins the tie-breaker thus assuring it a home playoff game in the first round of the AAAA playoffs in two weeks.
“It was an opportunity for us to try to continue to get better and there were a lot of things at stake for us here tonight,” Hillcrest coach Greg Porter said. “I’m really proud of their performance tonight, but we’re still not satisfied.
“Now we’re going to have some time to recover and get ready for the playoffs.”
After a disappointing loss to Hanna two weeks ago in which the Rams were held to nine points, Hillcrest’s offense has responded with six-touchdown games each of the last two weeks.
The offense has gotten back on track despite missing key parts. Two weeks ago, the Rams lost prolific short-yardage touchdown scorer J.D. Ballenger for the season. At practice on Wednesday, Hillcrest lost starting wide receiver Jaleel Thomas for the year to injury.
“Things like that happen, but you hate it,” Porter said. “Jaleel had worked extremely hard and played hard.”
While North-South All-Star receiver Brian Spurgeon had another big night with 10 catches for 149 yards and a touchdown for Hillcrest, Thomas’ injury allowed an opportunity for another receiver to stop up and Brandon Peppers responded. Peppers had seven catches for 102 yards and two touchdowns.
“Peppers is one of the only receivers we will have back next year,” Porter said. “So for him to have the kind of game he had tonight is big for his confidence. It lets Collin and the rest of us know that we have some other guys who can step up.”
The teams exchanged punts on the first four drives of the game before Hillcrest recovered a Woodmont fumble at the Wildcats’ 5-yard line. Penalties and negative plays left Hillcrest with 3rd-and-goal from the 27-yard line. Sneed overthrew his intended receiver, but Spurgeon came flying in for the catch in the end zone for a touchdown.
All three of Hillcrest’s second quarter possessions ended in Sneed touchdown passes as the Rams took a 28-0 lead into halftime.
In the third quarter, Wen Taylor caught his second touchdown of the game on a 12-yard pass from Sneed.
Hillcrest’s defense also stepped up Friday. The Rams had held Woodmont to minus-21 yards rushing before Wildcat running back Deonte Luster ripped off a 64-yard run late in the third quarter. Luster later scored on the drive from four yards out early in the fourth quarter to get Woodmont on the board.
Luster finished with 126 yards rushing to lead the Wildcats (3-8, 1-6). Jaquan Williams had five catches for 86 yards also for Woodmont.