The mighty Hamilton Aggies rolled into Hudson-Kirby stadium expecting an easy win against the Blue Devils — who only have a total of 11 juniors and seniors on this year’s roster.
Woody Smother’s team had a different plan — upset the Aggies and take early control of region play.
There would be adversity to overcome, however, as Hamilton picked up the 41-13 victory. Besides the small number of experienced juniors and seniors available, Coach Smothers had no less than 12 players on the sideline who could not play due to various injuries.
They also had to overcome the stiff Aggie defense.
In the end, it was this final obstacle that proved too difficult for the Devils to overcome. From the opening drive Hamilton’s defense showed that they were ready for anything Cordova could throw at them as the Blue Devils made a quick three and out exit, running for three yards on the first two downs before losing five yards on a screen pass.
The ensuing punt was returned 88 yards for a touchdown by Mitch Stults, but the play was called back to the Blue Devil’s 40 yard line due to a penalty for an illegal block.
Stults didn’t seem to mind. On the first play from scrimmage he found Jesse Box for a 40 yard touchdown pass. Kevin Chavez added the extra point to give the Aggies a 7-0 lead with 9:19 remaining in the 1st quarter.
On its next possession, Hamilton drove the ball 70 yards on 6 plays capping off the drive with a four yard touchdown run by Quinton May for a 13-0 lead.
Cordova didn’t give up, they were just getting started.
Noah Ard took Hamilton’s kickoff at the 15 and returned it 85 yards for a touchdown, making the score 13-7.
On Hamilton’s next offensive play, Stults threw a pass into double coverage and Jamaal Cooper picked it off for the Devils, setting them up for a first and ten at the Aggies 38-yard line. Seven plays later, Andrew Minor crashed across the goal line from eight yards out to tie the game at 13 with 1:20 left in the first quarter.
On the following drive, Cordova’s defense employed a bend but don’t break philosophy, allowing Hamilton to drive down to the Blue Devil 10-yard line before a fumble was forced and recovered by Jeffre Wingo.
From there, the depth and experience of the Aggies proved to be too much. Hamilton opened up their offense allowing Stults to find Justin Scott for a 36-yard touchdown pass with 6:59 left in the first half, and again for 21 yards with only 25 seconds left in the first half. Stults also found time to return a Cordova punt 50 yards for a score, giving Hamilton a 35-13 halftime lead.
The second half was a continuation of the dominance the Aggies had shown throughout the second quarter as their defense only allowed Cordova to gain 25 yards as a team. Hamilton took advantage of Cordova depth issues to allow most of their roster to get playing experience and added only one more touchdown in the second half, a one-yard run by Kevin Chavez with 4:30 left in the game. Chavez finished with 15 yards on 9 carries for one touchdown and was 3-5 on extra point attempts.
Mitch Stults led the Aggies with 181 yards passing on 8-15 completions and three touchdown. Stilts also carried the ball 6 times for 42 yards and had a 50 yard punt return for a touchdown in the second quarter.
The Blue Devils were led on offense by Noah Ard who averaged over 7 yards per carry on the ground and returned a kickoff 85 yards for a touchdown.
Workhorse running backs Andrew Minor and Jamaal Cooper were each kept in check by the Hamilton defense, allowing Minor just 31 yards and one touchdown on 9 carries and 14 yards for Cooper on 12 rushes. Cordova was led on defense by Wingo’s 7 tackles and one fumble recovery.