By Jake Winfrey
The Cullman Times
Torrey Green went into Friday night’s game against No. 10 Hamilton with a chip on his shoulder.
Following a tough loss at the hands of Good Hope a week ago, Green and the rest of his Hanceville teammates were eager to return to the field and find their winning form.
Standing in the way were the Aggies, who entered the contest as the prohibitive favorite over the Bulldogs after steamrolling their previous two opponents — Sulligent and Cordova — by a combined 70 points.
Green must have missed the memo. Either that, or he simply didn’t care.
The senior running back went beast mode for the Purple and Gold, collecting 186 yards and three touchdowns on 16 carries, as Hanceville (2-1, 1-1 in Class 3A, Region 7) pulled off a 26-12 upset win over Hamilton (2-1, 1-1) at Ray Talley Stadium.
“We came out here and knew they were the top dogs,” Green said. “We had a point to prove, though. Everybody was looking down on us, so we had to step it up and keep pushing.”
And push the Bulldogs did, as the offense rolled up 314 total rushing yards, thanks in part to solid play from the offensive line and the combined efforts of Green, Brontae Harris, Carlos Chacon and B.J. Smalls in the backfield.
Coach Danny Miller certainly couldn’t have asked for a better rebound game for his squad.
“Our guys played super,” the sixth-year coach said. “I am so proud of them. We talked all week about what it was going to take to line up against a team like Hamilton. For us to have a chance, we were going to have to play four quarters, so I’m really proud of their effort. We had some guys step up and make some big plays.”
No one for Hanceville stepped up and made more big plays than Green, whose touchdown runs of 5, 22 and 74 yards were easily the difference in the game.
The bruising back may have saved his best for last, however, as the Bulldogs held a slim 19-12 advantage with just over eight minutes left in the fourth quarter.
Faced with a second-and-9 at his own 26-yard line, Green took a handoff from quarterback Caleb Hurst, headed right and seemed to be corralled by a host of Aggie defenders behind the line of scrimmage.
However, the senior wasn’t about to go down without a fight. In fact, he wasn’t going to go down at all, as Green broke off from his would-be tacklers, cut back across the field and raced up the left sideline untouched to give the Purple and Gold a two-possession lead that ultimately sealed the game.
“When I saw that wide-open field, I was just like, ‘That’s my home. That’s where I need to be,’” Green said. “We were all able to run the ball tonight. We’ve worked our butts off. It all came down to the ‘want to’ in my opinion.”
Harris contributed with 60 yards on 18 carries, while Chacon and Smalls were each good for 38 and 22 yards, respectively.
Caleb Hurst completed only four passes for 61 yards, but one of those came on a 5-yard touchdown toss to junior Dant’e Reese for a second-quarter score.
It wasn’t just the offense that shone for the Bulldogs, either.
The Hanceville D was just as good, if not better, than its counterpart, disrupting with regularity a very potent offensive team in Hamilton with consistent pressure on the quarterback.
The Aggies’ two scores came on a 11-yard catch in the first half and a long 84-yard touchdown run by Garrett May in the third quarter.
Although the defensive unit did its own part — forcing a couple of fumbles and coming away with numerous sacks — it was the offense that kept them fresh by converting on a robust 9 of 14 third-down attempts.
“That's pretty big,” Miller said of the stat. “They wanted to get us off the field, but we were able to convert and give us the opportunities to hold the ball. That's how you beat teams like that.”
With a huge win under its belt, Miller’s squad will now set its sights to a road game at Vinemont, a team Hanceville handled easily a year ago.
Before the Bulldogs get prepared to take on the Eagles, Miller will likely let his players — and maybe even himself — enjoy Friday’s victory for just a bit.
“After letting one get away from us last week, we knew we were going to have to man up and get the job done,” he said. “It wasn't an easy task, either. I’m just so proud of them.”
% Jake Winfrey can be reached at 256-734-2131, ext. 136 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.