The Hawks’ senior quarterback threw for a school-record seven touchdowns and completed 24 of 36 passes for 395 yards to lead sixth-ranked Hillgrove to a 63-28 win over Campbell at Cobb Energy/Hillgrove Stadium Friday.
Ironside had touchdown passes to four different receivers, including Omar Black, who had four TDs among his six catches for 115 yards. Justin Denton caught five passes for 97 yards and a score, while Richard Hallman hauled in four receptions for 81 yards and a touchdown. Marcus Bowens also connected with Ironside for a score.
Ironside’s seven touchdown passes was one off the county record set by Lassiter’s Hutson Mason in 2009. The state record of nine was established in 1962.
Richardre Bagley, who had three catches for 22 yards, tacked on four carries for 96 yards and a score, while Bingo Long took in a 13-yard catch from Matt Wilson for Hillgrove’s final touchdown with 6:25 left in the game.
Hillgrove (4-0, 2-0) remained undefeated on the season and set a new single-game scoring record. Its previous best was a 51-point effort against Decatur in 2009.
“That’s pretty neat to get those records,” said Hillgrove coach Phil Ironside, the quarterback’s father. “It’s pretty special when worlds collide and you have your dad as your coach and you get to see games like this. (Elijah) knows he’s surrounded by talent and he understands that.
“It was good he was able to spread the wealth and find different guys open. We adjusted to what (Campbell was) doing early and had an opportunity to make some plays in the passing game. As long as we were successful doing it, we were going to keep at it, and it just kept working out.”
Hillgrove rolled up 570 yards — 408 through the air — compared to 338 for Campbell (2-3, 0-3), which dropped its third straight game.
The Spartans kept the game close and trailed 28-20 with 3:44 remaining in the second period after Mike Rogers bounced to the outside and turned a fourth-and-1 into a 35-yard touchdown.
That’s as close as Campbell would get that late in the game. Hillgrove scored 35 unanswered points, including 14 in the third quarter, to extend its margin to 63-20.
Hillgrove scored touchdowns on six of its seven first-half possessions and led 42-20 at halftime. After Elijah Ironside found Bowens for a 1-yard score with 2:39 on the clock, the Hawks’ defense put the Spartans into a punting situation with 46.2 seconds remaining in the second quarter.
Ironside directed a six-play, 59-yard drive, capped by Bagley’s 1-yard run with no time off the clock. Then, on the Hawks’ first possession of the second half, Ironside completed a 44-yard reception to Black to help set up a 12-yard touchdown toss to Denton. That seventh passing touchdown broke that previous Hillgrove single-game record owned by Gage Henry, and it put the Hawks in front 49-20.
Ironside was on the sideline when the record was announced and jumped off the bench to celebrate with his teammates.
“I was excited,” he said. “I didn’t know I was close to the record, so I’m just really happy that I got it. All the credit goes to the offensive line and the receivers. They worked hard blocking and catching the ball for me (Friday).
“We worked a lot on passing this week, and my dad I watched some tape at home. I really worked on reading defenses and knew how to get the receivers open.”
Eric Jackson’s interception in the end zone set up Ironside’s final touchdown pass. The Hawks drove 80 yards on 8 plays, and Ironside capped the possession with an 11-yard pass to Black for the score.
Ironside sat out the fourth quarter, in which a running clock was used.
Rogers, a Central Florida commitment, carried the ball 18 times for 160 yards and three touchdowns in three quarters for Campbell. Bryan Rhoden had three carries for 26 yards, scoring the Spartans’ final touchdown on a 9-yard run with 1:32 left in the game.
Several Campbell receivers dropped open passes, and James was only able to complete six of 18 passes for 101 yards and an interception. He rushed five times for 23 yards.
“There are always things we could be better at,” Campbell coach Harris Rainbow said. “The game really just got away from us late in the first and early in the second half. We played with them a little and kept fighting. I’m really proud of my guys for that. We played a heck of a team (Friday).”