Beech holds off Hillwood in finale
Story by Matt Murray/Hendersonville Standard
Photo credit to Rick Murray
HENDERSONVILLE – It was a back-and-forth game on Friday night at Shackle Island Stadium, which saw the Beech Buccaneers hold on for a 34-28 win over the Hillwood Hilltoppers.
Beech held a double-digit lead on three different occasions, and held a seven-point halftime advantage. Beech coach Anthony Crabtree was proud of his team’s ability to earn a victory despite not playing their best game.
“We did a good job finding a way to win the game,” Crabtree said. “You need to come to play or this team will score points on you.”
The Hilltoppers jumped out to an early 7-0 lead in the first quarter when quarterback Hale Page scrambled for a 55-yard touchdown. The Buccaneers responded with an 8-play, 62-yard drive, capped off by a 3-yard touchdown run by Tysean Jefferson. The Bucs attempted a 2-point conversion, but the try came up short and Beech trailed 7-6.
After Brian Colon intercepted a Page pass to end the next Hilltopper drive, Beech gained the lead with a 4-yard touchdown scamper by Aaron Foxx, pulling ahead 13-7.
After both teams exchanged turnovers, the Bucs gained command of the game when Foxx found the end zone for the second time, this one from 2 yards out, giving Beech a 20-7 lead. However, it was short-lived as Nick Spivey returned the ensuing kickoff 85 yards for a touchdown, pulling Hillwood to within 20-14.
The Bucs answered with an 11-play, 68-yard drive, capped off by a 16-yard touchdown strike from Caden Cuttrell to Jackson Bryan, giving Beech a 27-14 lead with just 41 seconds remaining in the first half.
However, the Hilltoppers answered again right before the half when Zion Tate found Kyle Carder for a 19-yard touchdown pass on a trick play. This cut the Hillwood deficit to 27-20 at the half.
“Hillwood is a really good offensive team,” Crabtree said. “You just can’t have bad days of practice at this point of the season, and you have to be prepared for anything.”
The Bucs came out and took another two-touchdown lead when Jefferson found pay dirt from 22 yards out, pushing the Beech lead to 34-20 after the first drive of the second half.
Hillwood ate into the Beech lead later in the quarter after a bad snap led to a short punt. From there, Page ran in his second touchdown from 2 yards out. The 2-point try cut the deficit to 34-28.
After a Beech fumble, the Hilltoppers had a chance to take the lead, but a touchdown was called back by a penalty, and the Bucs defense held tough.
The Bucs marched down the field on the following drive, but lost another fumble to give the Hilltoppers another chance.
However, Colon intercepted another Page pass to end a Hillwood scoring threat late in the fourth quarter.
Beech was then stopped on fourth down near midfield, attempting to ice the game. However, the Buccaneer defense held off one final Hilltopper drive to seal the win.
“We were able to get a couple of stops in the second half,” Crabtree said. “That was probably the difference in the game tonight.”
Beech ends the regular season at 7-3 and will host next week’s first round playoff game.