The win moves Trigg County to 2-1 as they enter the district portion of their schedule that comprises their final seven games of the season.
The Wildcats returned three fumbles for touchdowns and scored 44 unanswered points, leaving the Class 3A Storm shaking their heads and in many instances, pointing the finger at each other.
Trigg County took advantage of six turnovers by the Storm, including five fumbles.
“I thought our defense played really well,” said Wildcat head coach Curtis Higgins. “We try to put more people in the box than they can block and force the other team to make mistakes.”
Early on, it was Hopkins Central that looked like they were going to blow out of town with the win.
Tristan Pettus bobbled the opening kickoff near the goal line, picked it up and raced down the right side for a 98-yard return for a touchdown – the first allowed by Trigg County since Todd County’s Dustin Lopez returned a kick 96 yards for a score in 2001, which was the previous longest return in school history.
“We had two guys go inside and then he broke outside down the sideline. He’s extremely fast, and we knew his speed could cause us problems,” Higgins said.
Trigg County appeared to have an immediate answer on the ensuing kickoff when Scotty Mayes returned the kick 85 yards for an apparent score, but it was nullified due to a holding penalty.
The Wildcats instead began the drive at their own 32-yard line and needed just three plays to reach the end zone.
The big play was a 63-yard run by Devin Tejada to the Storm 2-yard line. Rick Woods carried it in on the next play to tie the game at 7-7.
Tejada, making his first start in the backfield after catching 11 passes for 158 yards in Trigg’s first two games, responded with 125 yards on just 11 carries.
“We know we have to establish a running game, and we rotated several guys in the backfield, and Devin had a good game for us,” Higgins said.
But Hopkins Central showed they could move the football early on the Wildcat defense.
The Storm drove the football to the Wildcat 5-yard line but failed to score when Jeffery Adams swatted away a 22-yard field goal attempt.
Hopkins Central went ahead 14-7 on a 12-yard pass from Randall Cates to T.J. Martin with 3:44 left in the first quarter.
Then Trigg County turned out the lights.
Cole Davis capped a 12-play, 67-yard drive with a 24-yard field goal with 11:08 left in the first half to draw Trigg to within 14-10.
Deep in their own territory, Cates threw an incomplete screen pass to Pettus that was ruled behind the line of scrimmage. Dylan Sonnek recovered the fumble but was injured on the play when he took a helmet to the back. The senior was helped off the field and did not return.
Tejada scored from six yards out with 8:49 left to give Trigg their first lead of the game at 17-14.
On the very next play, Cates fumbled the football on a botched handoff, and Taylor McGee scooped up the fumble and carried it 18 yards for the score and a 24-14 lead.
With less than a minute left in the half, Cates again threw an incomplete pass behind the line of scrimmage that was ruled a fumble. Woods took that miscue into the end zone from 39 yards out to give Trigg County a 31-14 halftime lead.
Trigg County put their foot to the throttle in the third quarter, scoring on a 12-yard run by McGee and a leaping 34-yard touchdown pass from Tommy Woodall to Jamaal Boyd that put the Wildcats ahead 44-14 just two minutes into the second half.
Trigg rounded out their scoring when Marcus Mayes blitzed from the corner and blindsided Cates in the pocket, causing a fumble. Robert Sholar picked up the fumble and returned it 46 yards for the score and a 51-14 lead with 5:33 left in the third quarter.
“We played Marcus a lot on defense, and he played a good game,” Higgins said. “Marcus is quick and can put the heat on, and he may see some more playing time when he learns more about the defense.”
Hopkins Central scored in the fourth quarter when a Trigg punt snap deep in their own end of the field sailed out of bounds for a safety and later on a 16-yard run by backup quarterback Ethan Utley.
The Wildcats weren’t expected to be a force running the football this year with an inexperienced line found plenty of room to run against the Storm, racking up 310 yards on 39 carries.
In addition to Tejada, Woodall topped the 100-yard mark for the second time this year with 129 yards on ten carries.
Through the air, he was just 4-of-12 for 45 yards – his lowest output since the Caldwell County game last year. Fortunately for the Wildcats, they didn’t need a lot of passing yards to win the game.
Trigg County outgained Hopkins Central 355-296, with the Storm getting just 100 rushing yards on 41 carries against the Wildcat defense. Pettus led the ground gainers with 53 yards on 20 carries.
Through the air, Cates was 12-of-25 for 160 yards and one interception.
“You can tell they’ve worked hard on their passing game. They’re going to score points, but I thought our defense got better as the game went on,” Higgins said.
The Wildcats showed no ill effects to having their practice scheduled altered last week.
The result of Hurricane Katrina moving inland forced Trigg County Schools to dismiss early Monday afternoon and cancel classes on Tuesday. The Wildcats didn’t practice Monday and worked inside Tuesday during the rains. The Wildcats returned outside Wednesday and Thursday.
Trigg County (2-1) returns to action Friday at Reidland, while Hopkins Central (0-3) hosts Murray Friday.
EXTRA POINTS – The win marks the first time that Trigg County has scored 50 or more points in two of the first three games of the season…The safety allowed by the Wildcats was their first since 1996…The Wildcats have won 13 of their last 14 home games dating back to 2003. Their only home loss in that span came to Fort Campbell last year…Brent Wietting, who suffered an ankle sprain and was carried off the field during a soccer game the previous night, still hit on one-of-two extra point kicks…Cole Davis’ first quarter field goal was the first of his career…The last time the Wildcat defense scored three times in one game was last year’s Reidland game…Trigg County was whistled for 113 yards in penalties, a season high…Hopkins Central has lost five straight games dating back to last year.