DURHAM — Hillside pulled way in the second half to defeat East Chapel Hill 54-23 in a Piedmont Athletic Conference 4A game at Blunt Memorial Stadium.
Hillside, ranked No. 9 in the News and Observer Poll, is now 9-3 overall and 5-0 in the conference. The Hornets close out the regular season next week against Northern Durham. A win over the Knights would give the Hornets the regular season conference title.
East Chapel Hill fell to 4-5 overall and 2-3 in the league. The Wildcats play Roxboro Person next week and should make the playoffs with a win against the Rockets.
The first half ended with Hillside ahead 20-17. The Hornets offense exploded in the second half, scoring on five of its six possessions.
We were focused on everything except for the football, said Hillside head coach Antonio King.
Everything was not about football in the first half. We focused in on the second half and had a good spurt.
The first touchdown of the second half came on a drive of 80 yards on seven plays. Tailback Khris Francis carried the ball five times on the drive for 48 yards, including a 22-yard touchdown run after Francis broke free between the tackles. Quarterback Cinco Simmons kept the ball for the two-point conversion to give Hillside a 28-17 lead with 9:50 left in the third quarter.
Hillside took over on its own 10 yard-line after forcing an East Chapel Hill punt. On third-down and 12, Simmons scrambled on a pass play to break containment and raced 67 yards for a touchdown.
The two-point conversion attempt failed to give the Hornets a 34-17 lead with 5:35 left in the third period.
The Hornets defense forced East Chapel Hill to punt after three downs and took over at the Wildcat 44 yard-line. Simmons fired the ball deep down the sideline to Austin Weeks who hauled in the pass at the goal line for the touchdown. The extra point by Sean Fungai-Kashangura was good, giving the Hornets a 41-17 lead late in the third quarter.
Once they put a whole game together they could be real scary, King said. We are playing a whole bunch of sophomore and juniors and took our licks early.
East Chapel Hill started freshman Connor Stough at quarterback and Stough responded by throwing two touchdown passes.