JEWELL - They did it once, so there was no reason to believe they couldn't do it again.
But this time the glass slipper simply didn't fit.
Looking to capitalize on a late game-winning drive for the second time this season, the South Hamilton Hawks instead suffered a second consecutive defeat after quarterback Matt Hislop's fourth-down pass was intercepted with 1:19 remaining Friday night at Taylor Field.
DFJ photo by Tracy Runneberg
South Hamilton defensive back Trevor Ullestad (left) gets tackled from behind by Hudson’s Nick Reed (62) after a third-quarter interception on Friday in Jewell.
Hudson, which took its first and only lead earlier in the final period, was able to run out the clock and survive the defensive slugfest, 7-6, in Class 1A District 3 play.
South Hamilton head coach TJ Schaefer wasn't in attendance, but after watching plenty of game tape he says he couldn't fault the efforts of his players.
"It was a battle and the boys played their hearts out, and when they do that's all you can ask for," Schaefer said. "The defense on both sides of the ball just dominated, especially the running games."
SH - Justin Shepherd 13 pass from Matt Hislop (kick failed), 5:03.
HUD - Cameron Wright 4 pass from Connor Simpson (Aaron Marcellus kick), 8:53.
Rushing - HUD: Connor Wrage 15-100, Cameron Wright 5-37, Aaron Marcellus 6-16, Joel Hageman 1-0, Connor Simpson 7-(-22). SH: Lane Heinlein 22-72, Devin Howard 4-13, Sam Waid 3-2, Matt Hislop 7-(-9).
Passing - HUD: Simpson 5-14-1 40. SH: Hislop: 12-24-2 152.
Receiving - HUD: Wright 2-27, Marcellus 1-10, Wrage 2-3. SH: Zach Zoske 2-39, Justin Shepherd 3-33, John Hegland 1-20, Heinlein 2-16, Josh Doering 1-13, Waid 1-6, Triston Twedt 1-19, Trevor Ullestad 1-6.
Tackles (leaders only) - Waid 13, Hunter Griffin 11, Jacob Haugland 9, Doering 7, Hegland 3.
The Hawks (2-2, 0-2) opened the season with a thrilling game-winning touchdown on the final play of a 6-3 victory over Roland-Story. Hislop was the architect, tossing a pass to a wide open Triston Twedt in the corner of the end zone as time expired.
But Hislop couldn't find lightning in a bottle twice in four weeks.
This time, Hudson cornerback Isaiah Rustad stepped in front of Hislop's final heave to preserve the Pirates (2-2, 1-1) first district win. It was Rustad's second interception of the game.
Hislop completed 12 of 24 passes to seven different targets for 152 yards on the evening. He rifled a pass into the arms of Justin Shepherd from 13 yards out to give South Hamilton a 6-0 lead with 5:03 remaining in the third quarter, but the Hawks' extra point was blocked, and that proved to be the difference.
The touchdown drive was set up by an interception by defensive back Trevor Ullestad.
Shepherd caught three balls for 33 yards. Zach Zoske led the receivers with two catches that covered 39 yards.
The usually stingy Hawk defense put the clamps on Hudson throughout the first three periods. The Pirates were unable to penetrate inside the red zone until the fourth quarter, but they made the most of their opportunity when quarterback Connor Simpson connected with Cameron Wright on a 4-yard pass, and Aaron Marcellus booted through the PAT to put his team in front for good.
South Hamilton had three opportunities to jump ahead over the final 8:53. Its first two possessions ended in punts.
The Hawks turned the ball over three times during the final 24 minutes of play.
Neither team could generate much of a ground attack in the second half. Hudson was limited to just 19 yards and South Hamilton actually went backwards for minus-5.
Senior tailback Lane Heinlein received the majority of the carries in place of starter, junior Devin Howard, who left the game early on because of injury. Heinlein toted the rock 22 times for 72 yards; South Hamilton finished with just 78 total yards on the ground.
Connor Wrage piled up 100 yards rushing on 15 carries for Hudson. Simpson completed 5 of 14 passes for 40 yards.
Schaefer says he expects Howard - the team's leading ground gainer in the opening three games - to be back in the lineup on Friday when the Hawks travel to Sheffield to take on West Fork (1-3, 0-2).
"Devin should be ready to go this week," he said. "He just got his bell rung, but he was fine after the game and I think he'll be good to go."
With back-to-back district losses, South Hamilton now faces the daunting task of trying to work back into the playoff picture. After West Fork, the Hawks have remaining district games against ninth-ranked Aplington-Parkersburg, Eagle Grove and Nashua-Plainfield.
"From here on out it's pretty much a playoff game every week," Schaefer said. "We've got to win three of our next four district games to control our own destiny. If we win two then we've got to rely on other people."