Hamilton takes control early, routs Highland - East Valley Tribune: VarsityXtra

Hamilton takes control early, routs Highland

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Posted: Saturday, November 3, 2012 12:01 am | Updated: 12:07 am, Sat Nov 3, 2012.

Remember that 0-2 start to Hamilton’s season? It’s nothing but a distant memory now.

The third-seeded Huskies quickly erased any worries that they could suffer through a similar malaise in their opening game of the Division I state playoffs against No. 14 Highland.

On the game’s opening kickoff, Hamilton (7-2) brought down Highland’s kick returner in the end zone for a safety and never looked back en route to a 44-14 win.

“It set us back on our heels a little bit,” Hawks coach Pete Wahlheim said of the start. “It was just one of those things, and we’ve got to be able to recover from it.”

Three plays after the safety free kick, Tyrell Smith ran for a 1-yard touchdown for Hamilton.

“It was definitely big to get a fast start like that,” Hamilton quarterback A.J. Thigpen said, “especially in the playoffs, because it’s do or die.”

From that point on, the Huskies played what may have been their most complete game of the season. The offense used a balanced attack and the defense got constant pressure on Highland quarterback Blake Young.

Any time the Hawks (6-5) offense started to move the ball, Hamilton’s defensive line ratcheted up the pressure, and Highland was never able to sustain any sort of groove.

“They’re pretty physical up front,” Wahlheim said. “We had a tough time throwing the ball because of the pressure.”

On offense, Thigpen led an explosive, balanced attack that put the game away so early that he didn’t take a snap in the second half.

Thigpen finished 9-for-10 passing for 218 yards and two touchdowns.

Hamilton now turns its attention to No. 6 Desert Vista in the quarterfinals on Friday in a rematch of last year's state title game.

“We’re putting everything together now, and we have to continue to build on that,” Thigpen said.

Hamilton 44, Highland 14

Ham – Safety

Ham – Smith 1 run (Wichman kick)

Ham – Eggers 86 pass from Thigpen (Wichman kick)

Ham – Smith 1 run (Wichman kick)

Ham – Williams 26 pass from Thigpen (Wichman kick)

Ham – Cunningham 21 INT return (Wichman kick)

Ham – Felix 15 run (Wichman kick)

High – Brletic 14 run (Miller kick)

High – Brletic 3 run (Miller kick)

                               Highland               Hamilton

1st Downs                   9                            11

Rush-Yds                 34-89                    32-120

Pass Yds                    84                         265

Comp-Att-INT          7-19-1                  13-14-0

Fumbles-Lost            2-0                         2-2

Penalties-Yds           5-33                       8-87

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