published Saturday, November 10th, 2012

East Hamilton turns Page, advances

By James Beach
East Hamilton's MattĀ Milita (6) tries to dodge Page High School's Cody King (4) during the first half of play at the Green Hurricane's home field.
East Hamilton's MattĀ Milita (6) tries to dodge Page High School's Cody King (4) during the first half of play at the Green Hurricane's home field.
Photo by Dan Henry.

East Hamilton didn't exactly not miss a beat Friday night with star tailback Logan Jackson walking the sideline on crutches, but in the end the third-ranked Hurricanes had more than enough to stave off playoff-tested Page, 35-14, to advance to the Class 4A state football quarterfinals.

East Hamilton will try to add to its list of firsts, traveling to play top-ranked Giles County (12-0) next week.

"We've got playmakers and we knew that we would step up and get the job done," quarterback Hunter Moore said. "Of course, we've got a pretty good defense, too. When people talked about having added pressure without Logan, I don't think they took into consideration our defense."

The Hurricanes had given up only six TDs in their nine-game winning streak coming into Friday and only six points total in their last four home games. And while the visiting Patriots did score twice, only one touchdown came on offense as East Hamilton (11-1) shut down the high-powered passing attack.

Page managed just 135 yards passing on 18 completions and 34 rushing yards in producing five first downs for the game.

"That's a team that's been in the playoffs a lot over the years, and they come from a really tough district," East Hamilton coach Ted Gatewood said. "There are things we learned about ourselves tonight, and we can take them and get better starting Sunday. This is all uncharted territory for these guys.

One thing the Hurricanes learned was they can survive without Jackson leading the attack. Lamond Greer rushed for 183 yards and two touchdowns (1 and 7 yards), and Moore complemented it with a 17-of-26 passing performance for 204 yards. Moore had one TD pass and rushed for another.

"We just went out and played. That's all we could do," Greer said. "It's up to Matt [Milita] and me to go out and do whatever it takes. No one is going to feel sorry for us."

Milita added 106 yards rushing as East Hamilton racked up 311 rushing yards, and he scored on a 9-yard run. The thing the Hurricanes offense missed most from Jackson was ball security. East Hamilton turned it over three times on fumbles -- a stark contrast to the 166 carries Jackson had this year without a single fumble.

"Those are all things that we have to get better with," Gatewood said. "You can't turn it over at any level like that and expect good things to happen."

The Hurricanes and Patriots swapped early TDs for a 7-7 tie, but East Hamilton put up two scores to take the 21-7 halftime lead. The 'Canes appeared to put it away after Hunter Parker's first of two interceptions set up a scoring drive in the third quarter, but a 90-yard fumble return by Page's Keith Jones added a little bit of excitement heading down the stretch. Greer took over from there, though, and the 'Canes filed away their second playoff win in school history.

Francisco Rodriguez (two sacks), Austin Gatewood and Matt Lundy led the defense.

"We're excited to be moving on. They are a great team and have a lot of tradition," Gatewood said of Giles County. "Those are the things we are working on."

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