No. 7 Hillcrest defeated No. 6 Pike Road 28-21 in the season opener with a last-second score.
After Pike Road overcame a 14-point, fourth-quarter deficit and tied the game with a late 2-point conversion, Hillcrest marched down the field with a handful of tosses tor running back Jamarian Johnson.
Hillcrest senior quarterback Ethan Crawford ran for a 4-yard touchdown where he dove and the nose of the football crossed the goal line with 17.9 seconds left.
"You can't speak more of Jamarian Johnson," Crawford said. "He just got six stitches put in his leg right at halftime. He won the game for us. ... He got us down there. I just put it in there."
Two special teams mistakes proved costly for Pike Road, the 2021 AHSAA 5A state champion.
Hillcrest senior Kendrick Davis recovered a high snap in the end zone for a touchdown in the first quarter. The Patriots recovered a muffed punt by Tre'marcus Webb in the third quarter and Johnson, who had two touchdowns rushing, scored the next play.
Pike Road sophomore running back Anthony Rogers scored on a 47-yard touchdown rush. Webb and junior quarterback Caleb Foster also ran for touchdowns for Pike Road.
Pike Road did not sustain a meaningful first-half drive, and its star sophomore running back Anthony Rogers was largely limited by Hillcrest's stacked box.
"The way that they responded is the way that anybody that's a coach at any level wants to see," first-year Pike Road coach Ed Rigby said. " You're down 14-0 to a semifinal team that returned a dump truck-load of players from last year in 6A... There ain't no quit in these guys."
Jerell Rushin is a recruiting reporter for the Tuscaloosa News and the USA TODAY Network. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter at @JerellRushin_.
This article originally appeared on The Tuscaloosa News: Hillcrest football defeats Pike Road with last-second TD in 6A showdown