Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas

Sports

September 21, 2013

GC Football: Hubbard defense smothers Italy, 20-7

Hubbard — If Hubbard makes the run, you know the one, the one that carries the Jags deep into the playoffs.

If they make that run, they will remember Friday night’s 20-7 win against Italy.

Nope, the game has nothing to do with the playoffs, but everything to do with who and what these Jaguars are.

Soaked and soggy, hurt and hurting, the Jags stepped out of the mud and into a land all their own, winning on a night no one thought they would (well, they did), in a game that could define a season.

You need a definition for the Jags?

“They’re resilient,’’ Hubbard coach Craig Horn said. “We’re beat up. We’re injured. But they’ve got a lot of heart, a lot of guts ...”

These Jags, these kids who never make an excuse, have more than that. They’ve got each other.

So on a night when they had four starters out (eight starting positions), including quarterback Casen Martin and tailback Logan McClinton, the second leading rusher in the Golden Circle, the Jags not only found a way to win, but to dominate.

They did it with a Black Hole defense — you know, you go into a black hole and never come out — that swarmed and stormed and took everything away from a big, physical Italy team that is favored to win its district, and they did it with a night-to-remember performance by sophomore QB Braydyn Gillham, who threw for a TD and ran for one and finished with 114 yards on the ground on a night when nothing came easy.

Easy isn’t even in Hubbard’s vocabulary.

It was Gillham’s first start at QB, and after his night of nights all he wanted to do was talk about the other guys.

“This was for Casen,’’ he said of the injured senior starter. “This was for the guys we have who are injured. It’s not about one player, it’s about the team. That’s what wins championships.’’

That’s what Hubbard is all about — about grit and guts, and the Jags brought it all and more, coming back after falling behind 7-0.

If there’s one play to define the night it’s Gillham’s YOU-tube-worthy 56-yard TD run that all but put the game away with 4:20 left. He not only broke two tackles to get out of the backfield, but he went one-on-one with a defender and the two collided with a head-butting for the ages. Gillham won the battle, stood up, and then popped free for 50 yards of daylight and a TD.

“Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh,’’ said Gillham after the game. “I looked up and all I saw was the end zone. I was gone. At first I thought I was going to hurdle him, but I (head-butted him). Then I saw the end zone.’’

The message is clear. Don’t butt heads with Hubbard.

The Jags are now 3-1 with a lone loss to state-ranked Bosqueville by one point in overtime.

But Friday was their best defensive night of the season

Hubbard’s defense made 18 plays for either no gain or losses. That’s right 18. And that Black Hole D was never alone. The Jags come at you all at once and all together. Linebacker Josh Garrels, a junior, was in on more than half of those plays.

“He’s a war-daddy,’’ Horn said with praise.

But Garrels wasn’t alone. Hubbard’s big D kids like Jordan Johnson, Brian Walker, Tre Knight, Nick Johnson, Shane Sykora and D’Warren Simmons, who caught a 33-yard TD pass and also had an interception, were all in on the act. It was a defensive overload. Horn smiled when he heard about the 18 plays, and added they should have had more.

He’s proud of his kids and it shows.

And his kids know it. They play with pride.

Italy led 7-0, thanks to a 37-yard breakaway from TaMarcus Sheppard, who opened the game with a 67-yard run to the 17. He had two big plays worth 104 yards and finished the night with 112 yards on 16 carries. Do the math — Hubbard stuffed him.

Gillham hit Simmons with a 33-yard TD pass with 38 seconds left in the half, and then he helped keep a drive alive in the third when — on a fourth-and-one — he bulldozed 11 yards on a  quarterback sneak to the Italy 2. After a  penalty, Trey Henderson, who ran tough all night and finished with 52 yards, scored on a 6-yard run to lift the Jags to a 12-7 lead with 3:38 left in the third.

Sophomore Brandon Simpson, who was filling in for McClinton, also had a big night, gaining 53 yards on 11 carries in the mud.

And of course, once Hubbard scored, the defense took care of the rest. Italy (1-3)  had just one first down in the second half, and then came the butting-heads play to put it away.

“That was a big play,’’ Horn said. “He’s a linebacker playing quarterback.’’

Doesn’t matter at Hubbard, not here where no one makes an excuse and no one cares what they play.

“It’s all about the team,’’ Gillham said.

Nothing to butt heads about that.

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