DOUGLASVILLE — Hillgrove scored off two turnovers en route to a 28-6 victory over Douglas County in the season opener at Jimmy Johnson Field on Friday.
Jake Sayer recovered a fumbled punt return that eventually led to Trevarus Walker touchdown reception, and Jawon Garner’s 68-yard interception return sealed the game with 5:07 remaining and the Hawks (1-0) in front by 22.
Matthew McCravy went 19-of-28 for 218 yards and two touchdowns to pace Hillgrove through the air. T.J. Thomas ran 14 times for 95 yards and a score, while Walker had six receptions for 117 yards and a touchdown. Jalen Royals also had six catches for 49 yards and a touchdown.
“We always talk about taking advantage of turnovers,” Hillgrove coach Phil Ironside said. “Our defense did that in the scrimmage and (defensive coordinator Luqman Salam) practices that everyday with the kids.
“We made enough good things happen (Friday). I thought Matthew played really well. He made some very intelligent decisions and some really nice throws and the guys played with a lot of effort. We had a lot of new guys on the offensive line and they played well. I thought our defensive made plays and guys stepped up.”
Hillgrove added to their 14-0 halftime lead behind McCravy’s 8-yard touchdown throw to Walker with 4:49 left in the third.
Justin Franklin threw a 33-yard touchdown to Travis Collier with 10:02 remaining in the fourth to put Douglas County (0-1) on the board. The Hawks blocked the point-after attempt to hold a 21-6 advantage.
Franklin finished 17-of-34 for 120 yards and a touchdown. He also rushed 17 times for 74 yards.
The Hawks scored on their opening possession. Thomas’ 2-yard run on fourth down kept the eight-play drive alive, and a 15-yard Douglas County unsportsmanlike penalty gave the Hawks first-and-10 at the Tigers’ 32.
One play later, McCravy connected with Walker for a 37-yard reception, giving Hillgrove first-and-goal at the 1. Thomas found the end zone on the next play for the 7-0 lead after Jonathan Grote’s point-after attempt.
Douglas County drove to the Hawks’ 33 on its initial possession, but a holding penalty and back-to-back incompletions stalled the drive.
Hillgrove almost got the board on its second drive, but a holding penalty negated Royals’ 34-yard scoring catch and the Hawks would eventually punt.
Douglas County’s Amarion Snead recorded a sack that led to a punt from Hillgrove’s Jose Chaires, but the Hawks’ Sayer recovered the muffed 43-yard punt return, which led to Hillgrove’s second touchdown.
A pass interference penalty gave the Hawks’ third-and-4 from the Tigers’ 11, and Walker got both feet down in the back of the end zone on McCravy’s pass, putting Hillgrove up 14-0 with 2:44 left in the first half.