November 3, 2013 12:06:16 AM
HAMILTON -- Senior Night at Hamilton High School featured a wildly exciting and dramatic game that saw the Hamilton High football team edge Monroe County rival Smithville 13-12 in a Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 1A, Region 1 game.
"We had to overcome a lot of adversity," Hamilton coach Ray Weeks said. "This game is always a slugfest and is usually determined quarter to quarter."
Senior Dominique Dobbs knew it was his job on defense to keep his team excited and determined to come away with the victory. Dobbs was a part of many defensive stands, including two fourth-down tries with Smithville threatening.
"I had to pump my team up so we could get the stop," Dobbs said. "We stayed focused and positive, which led to the win."
The victory helped Hamilton (8-2, 6-1 region) clinch second place in the region and a chance to play host to a first-round North State playoff game. It will have a chance to win the region at 7 p.m. Friday when it plays at Coffeeville (7-3, 7-0).
With the score deadlocked at six, Weeks made a change at quarterback and sent sophomore quarterback Byron Butler in to replace senior Quinshay Heard. The switch made a huge difference.
"Coach has been wanting me to play some wide receiver," Heard said. "I was comfortable making the change."
Weeks noticed in the first half that Smithville was loading the box to stifle Hamilton's run game.
"We wanted to put some pressure on their secondary," Weeks said. "They were doubling up our other receivers, so we moved Quinshay out there, which forced them to take another man out of the box."
Hamilton trailed 12-6 late in the third quarter and mounted a drive that moved into the red zone. But three consecutive holding penalties put Hamilton in a first-and-30 situation. Butler then found Keshon Heard for a touchdown on the next play. The extra point gave the Lions a 13-12 lead.
"I went in with the mentality we were in a completely different game," Butler said. "I went in and did what I needed to do. I worked hard with Keshon (Heard) over the summer, and I had faith he would catch the pass."
The Hamilton defense had the difficult task of handling senior quarterback Drew Lann, who was Smithville's offense. The key for Hamilton was stopping Lann, which is what they did.
"Defense has been our calling card all year," Weeks said. "We knew if we could keep them from making big plays we would have a shot. We knew they would get the yardage, but our focus was bend but don't break."
After the teams slugged through most of the fourth quarter, Hamilton drove to the Smithville 10 yard line and ate away as much clock as it could. The Lions couldn't punch it in, but the drive took several minutes off the clock and left Smithville with only four minutes to answer.
Hamilton's defense then answered the call and forced Smithville to turn the ball over on downs.
"This was win number six for us in the division. That's all it was," Weeks said. "Smithville is a great football team and is well coached. Next week we are playing for a division championship, so that's what we are focusing on."
Said Dobbs, "We are a good team, they're a good team, so it will be a tough game. But they're No. 1, so they have something to lose."