HURRICANE — After Friday night’s season opener, Hurricane coach Jeremy Taylor may finally get back the sleep he lost from the team’s opening midnight practice earlier in August.
That’s because Taylor’s biggest concern — offensive balance — was the team’s biggest strength Friday as the Redskins rolled up 537 yards of offense and stormed past Putnam County rival Winfield 55-20 for the 24th win in the last 25 meetings with the Generals.
Christian Hill was his normal self on the ground, rumbling for 174 yards and three touchdowns on 13 carries. But Austin Womack more than held up his end through the air, completing 11 of 12 passes for 301 yards and four scores. The Redskins scored on eight of nine drives, with only a questionable fumble call late in the first half stopping them.
“He’s the Miller Lite player of the game,” Taylor said of Womack. “It was kind of a perfect storm. They had some matchup problems with us and we kind of exploited them. We’ve got some good receivers, we’ve got a good line and of course Christian Hill, everyone knows about him. But we open with Womack throwing the ball like he did — we’re going to be OK.”
Hurricane scored on the game’s first offensive play, a 65-yard strike from Womack to Nate Barham, and Hurricane barely slowed down from there.
The Generals took the ensuing drive from their own 20 to the Hurricane 20. Nick Vance hit Carter Perry on a slant inside the Hurricane 5, but Perry fumbled while fighting for yardage, with the Redskins recovering at their own 1. Early mistakes by the Generals have been a theme in the rivalry in recent years and an early one Friday was a killer.
The Redskins worked quickly again, using a 30-yard pass from Womack to Abel Cunningham on the first play of the drive to escape the shadow of their own goal post. Seven plays later, Womack hit Ryan Moses on a pass into the flat with Moses slipping a tackle and scampering 28 yards to the end zone to give the Redskins a 14-0 lead in the first quarter.
Womack would go on to throw for 250 yards and three touchdowns in the opening half and he and his fellow starters didn’t see the field in the fourth quarter as a running clock was instituted.
“When they gave us one-on-one opportunities, our guys were able to convert,” Womack said. “It was a good day. Our receivers and our line did a great job today and it showed.”
Six different receivers caught a pass for Hurricane. Moses hauled in four balls for 80 yards and a pair of scores, Chase Hager added a 78-yard touchdown catch and run in the second quarter and Barham finished with a pair of catches for 65 yards.
It won’t get any easier moving forward for Hurricane, which has home games with Spring Valley and Capital before hitting the road for Cabell Midland over the next three weeks.
But on Friday, the Redskins presented an offense that will take a whole lot more planning than simply loading the box against Hill and the running game.
“It makes running offense so much easier where we’re not one-dimensional,” Womack said. “A lot of teams will be focused on Hill and, like today, we’ve got to convert in the passing game and we’ll put up hundreds and hundreds of yards. It was pretty.”
On the other side, Winfield also did some nice things offensively. The Generals racked up 26 first downs, with 19 coming in the first half. Vance was efficient as well, hitting on 12 of 19 passes for 137 yards and two scores and adding a team-high 106 rushing yards on 21 carries.
But after moving the ball to the tune of 258 total yards in the first half, the Generals seemed to tire out after halftime. Winfield took the opening kickoff of the second half trailing just 28-13, but immediately went three and out. After Hurricane scored again to go up 35-13, some of the fight left the visitors.
“It was a tough matchup for us,” Winfield coach Craig Snyder said. “I thought it was a game at halftime still, but we kind of ran out of gas. They’re very good defensively and they’re explosive offensively. I’m impressed with them.”
John Covert pounded out 88 rushing yards and a score on 24 carries for the Generals with Hunter Morris hauling in five catches for 84 yards, all in the first half. Ethan Young caught a 5-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter and Perry added a 19-yard touchdown catch in the fourth.