Any hope East Chapel Hill had to recapture the Hodgin Cup evaporated in the first quarter Friday night at Wildcat Stadium as Chapel Hill quickly scored 21 points in the opening 6 minutes, 12 seconds and went on to win 41-12.
Ricki McDowell ran in the first two touchdowns and Connor Stough threw for four scores in the game – three in the first two quarters as Chapel Hill rolled up a 34-0 lead by halftime.
Chapel Hill won the cup for a 12th straight year. Sponsored by the News & Observer, it’s named in honor of Bill Hodgin, the former Chapel Hill head football coach who later became the first athletics director at East Chapel Hill.
Hodgin, age 74, retired and a resident of Roxboro, attended the game and personally awarded the eponymous cup to the Tigers on the field in a short post-game ceremony.
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“I hope they value their time in high school sports,” Hodgin said he told the players. “Not only is football teaching them how to be adults, it’s teaching them life lessons they should remember the rest of their lives.”
Overmatched at the line, East Chapel Hill had trouble protecting sophomore quarterback Brater Gerber, who took a blow to the chin midway through the second half and was being checked for a possible concussion afterward.
The turning point
On the first play from scrimmage after Chapel Hill took a 7-0 lead, East Chapel Hill fumbled away its first possession. On its second series, down 14-0, the Wildcats drove to the Chapel Hill 8-yard line but then were stymied and turned the ball over on downs. Its offense needed almost three quarters to recover.
Three who mattered
Connor Stough: completed 10 of 18 passes for 194 yards and four touchdowns. His first two touchdown passes – 13 and then 21 yards – went to Colby Peck. Stough added a 20-yard touchdown pass of 20 yards to Javon Wells in the corner of the endzone as the clock hit 0:00 in the first half. His last touchdown, 29 yards to Connor Korfas, gave Chapel Hill a 41-0 lead.
Amier Alston: doing a remarkable impersonation of Choo-Choo Justice, the diminutive Alston took over as a wildcat back after Gerner was knocked out of the game. Alston ran for touchdowns of 14 yards late in the third quarter and competed a 26-yard pass to Josiah Browning to set up his own 9-yard run for a second TD with 7.4 seconds left in the game.
Ricki McDowell: carried the ball 11 times for 118 yards and Chapel Hill’s first two touchdowns. “We wanted to establish the run early, and Ricki helped us do that,” Chapel Hill coach Isiah Marsh said.
Hudson Price: was in on five of Chapel Hill’s 10 tackles for losses amounting to minus-62 yards for East. He and Neal Duncan stuffed East Chapel Hill twice on a first-quarter stand in the red zone.
By the numbers
39: Chapel Hill’s rushing yardage gained by others than McDowell. East
12: The number of years in a row that Chapel Hill has won the Hodgin Cup and East’s total points, the most it’s scored against the Tigers since a 40-28 loss to Chapel Hill in 2010.
4: East Chapel Hill turnovers – two fumbles and two interceptions.
They said it
Issac Marsh: “This series still means a lot to the kids. East Chapel Hill has improved, and they’re building a good program here. It was a good game.”