POWDER SPRINGS – Hillgrove once again lit up the scoreboard as the Hawks defeated Alcovy 41-13 in its first-round Class AAAAAA state playoff game at Cobb Energy/Hillgrove Stadium.
The Hawks jumped out to a 27-0 lead in the first half and never looked back as they advanced to a second-round game at Camden County next Friday.
“(Alcovy is) very aggressive and they do a lot of things,” Hillgrove coach Phil Ironside said. “They give you problems and they aggravated us for a while. I thought Alcovy played very hard. They had a lot of fight in them and they’re a good defensive team.”
It was another big game for a Hillgrove offense that scored more than 40 points for the fourth time in five games and racked up 422 total yards.
Elijah Ironside completed 14 of 28 passes for 180 yards and five touchdowns — with three of those scoring strikes going to Justin Denton, who caught four passes for 125 yards.
Richarde Bagley led the Hillgrove ground game with 187 yards on 19 carries and a touchdown, while Sonny Harris added 70 yards on 13 rushes.
Hillgrove (10-1) scored on its first offensive series after forcing Alcovy to punt. Ironside threw a 23-yard touchdown pass to Denton and Andrew Gaughan kicked the extra point with 8:27 remaining in the first quarter to give the Hawks a 7-0 lead.
After Alcovy went three-and-out on the ensuing offensive series, Hillgrove struck again as it took only two plays to score — with Bagley following up a 12-yard run with a 59-yard touchdown gallop to make the score 13-0 with 7:16 left in the first quarter.
Hillgrove got another big opportunity when a short Alcovy punt gave the Hawks the ball at the Tigers' 30-yard line with 3:35 remaining in the first half.
The Hawks took quick advantage as Elijah Ironside threw a 30-yard touchdown pass to Richard Hallman on the second play of the series, to push the lead to 20-0.
Hillgrove added another touchdown toward the end of the first half as Ironside fired a 6-yard scoring strike to Denton with 6 seconds left to give the Hawks a 27-0 halftime lead.
Alcovy (7-4) finally got on the scoreboard in the third quarter as quarterback Tristan Payne scored on a 10-yard run to help the Tigers reduce their deficit to 27-6 with 3:43 left.
Hillgrove came right back in the ensuing series as Ironside threw a 7-yard touchdown pass to Omar Black and Gaughan made the extra-point kick with 1:44 left in the third quarter to make it 34-6.
Hillgrove's offense rolled on, using a lengthy drive to produce its next score as Ironside’s 5-yard scoring toss to Denton and Gaughan’s kick capped off a 13-play, 69-yard drive that extended the Hawks' lead to 41-6 with 4:00 left in the fourth quarter.
Alcovy managed to put up one more score as Jared Farley’s 2-yard touchdown run and Jason Trowbridge’s extra-point kick with 2:44 remaining in the game narrowed Hillgrove’s winning margin.