NEW HAVEN >> With the score between Hillhouse and visiting Foran knotted at 14 in the fourth quarter, Tyzohn Poole and the Hillhouse special teams unit came up with a game-changing play Friday.
Poole blocked a Lions punt and the Academics recovered at the Foran 20. Three plays later, and after a penalty, junior quarterback Quintus Reid connected with Chase Kinzly on a 24-yard touchdown pass to give Hillhouse the lead for good with 7:53 remaining en route to a 34-21 SCC Division II victory at Bowen Field.
“Once I blocked that punt, I knew it was over,” Poole said. “I knew we were going to come back and show them what we were really made of.”
The blocked punt came on a 4th-and-20 at the Foran 40. The Hillhouse coaching staff instructed their players to rush the punter and try for the block.
“It was a big play,” Hillhouse coach Reggie Lytle said. “It put us back down there in the 20 in the red zone and we converted. It was big. It brought our spirits back up. It changed the whole complex of the game.
“We were coming for it. Their back against the wall, you throw everything and the kitchen sink when you got somebody in a hole like that. We went after it and got it. We had two guys (Poole and Kwame Lee) really there, but Tyzohn reached the ball. We went after it, and it turned out just the way we wanted it to.”
Foran coach Jeff Bevino said his team has not struggled in the punting department this season. The Lions did use a drop punt at times Friday, but the blocked punt occurred on a standard punt.
Foran (2-3) went 60 yards on 10 plays capped by a 6-yard touchdown pass from senior Lance DiNatale to senior Brett Huber for a 7-0 lead on the game’s opening possession.
The Academics (4-1) responded and tied the game on the next possession after junior Byron Breland caught a 17-yard touchdown pass from Reid (10-of-17, 136 yards).
Hillhouse took a 14-7 lead at halftime when Reid connected with senior Keon Jackson on an 18-yard touchdown pass.
The Lions tied the game at 14 in the third quarter when senior Steven Lynch recovered his team’s won fumble in the end zone.
After the Reed to Kinzly touchdown to give the Academics a 21-14 lead, senior David Harris scored on a 14-yard touchdown run to put Hillhouse up by two touchdowns.
A 9-yard touchdown pass from DiNatale to Huber cut the lead back to a touchdown, but DiNatale was later picked off by senior Derrick Sims, who returned the interception 12 yards for a touchdown for the game’s final margin of victory.
“We just had to use fundamentals,” Sims said. “We had to lock them out, get around them, use our spin moves and get to the quarterback and do what we needed to do,” Sims said.
Foran turned the ball over three times. DiNatale completed 16 of 26 passes for 148 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. Huber caught 10 passes for 103 yards and two scores.
“They’re good,” Bevino said about Hillhouse. “Don’t get me wrong, I fully understand that, but I really felt that the way we played defense today we could of won this game if we had just executed a little bit better offensively.”
The Hillhouse defensive front was a big reason why Foran struggled offensively. Kinzly made an interception, while Sims also recovered a fumble and made two sacks.
“All the coaches have been telling him (Sims) that this is the game that you’re going to stand out,” Lytle said. “And it turned out that way. He came up big for us.”
Hillhouse 34, Foran 21
(at New Haven)
Foran 7 0 7 7 — 21
Hillhouse 7 7 0 20 — 34
F—Brett Huber 6 pass from Lance DiNatale (Pierce Klein kick)
H—Byron Breland 17 pass from Quintus Reid (Breland kick)
H—Keon Jackson 18 pass from Quintus Reid (Breland kick)
F—Steven Lynch 1 run (Klein kick)
H—Chase Kinzly 24 pass from Quintus Reid (Breland kick)
H—David Harris 14 run (Breland kick)
F—Brett Huber 9 pass from Lance DiNatale (Klein kick)
H—Derrick Sims 12 int ret (kick failed)
Team records: Hillhouse 4-1; Foran 2-3