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“Left 35, fake to fullback and go option left.”
That was how quarterback Ryan Hill described the pivotal play in West Brunswick’s 35-22 season-opening football victory Friday night over Socastee.
“We actually had a pass called.”
That was how Trojan coach Jimmy Fletcher described the play.
Whatever it was called, and whatever it was designed to do, the play worked—Hill zig-zagged 94 yards for the fourth-quarter touchdown that clinched West’s victory and end a 12-game losing streak.
The run was as improbable as the play.
West led 28-22 but Socastee had the ball near midfield. On third-and-3, Trojan senior lineman Jacob Haley stopped the Braves from making a first down. With about eight minutes left in the game, Socastee punted. The near-perfect punt buried West at its 5 with 6:59 left.
“I was really surprised they punted it,” Fletcher said. “I was really shocked they punted it.”
On first down, West gained one yard. On second down, Fletcher called for a pass, with the option to run.
The pass play was a gamble: To that point, Hill had thrown six passes, none complete.
“We actually had a pass called,” Fletcher said.
“I was hoping he was going to keep it.”
Even the option to run appeared likely to gain just a few yards. Hill had shown signs of cramping in the second half on the humid night. One player even rubbed the back of Hill’s calves before one play.
“My coaches told me to dig down deep,” Hill said. “I kept getting cramps, so I just had to dig deep.”
Hill knew this play had a chance for something big.
“I just felt it,” he said. “The blocking was good. Everybody was keying on me, so I decided to cut back and get around the defense, and I was able to do that.”
While keeping the ball on the option, Hill ran along the right sideline and broke clear of the Braves’ defense. Near the 50, he veered toward the middle of the field.
But one defender angled toward him.
“He was gaining on me,” Hill said. “He was trying to cut me off. So I ended up stopping and going again.”
Hill made two shoulder fakes and ran toward the left sideline.
“I was able to get around him and dive into the end zone,” Hill said. “I hit the pylon and they called the touchdown. And everybody just went crazy.”
The 94-yard run, with Corey Bell’s extra point, gave West a 35-22 lead with 5:56 left. Victory was assured.
“We’ve been working hard all summer trying not to repeat that 0-11 season,” said Hill, who gained 175 yards on 10 carries. “We just had it in our heads we have to win a game. It was a must for us. We depended on each other, and we were able to come through.”
MICHAEL PAUL is the sports editor at the Beacon. Reach him at 754-6890 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.