Synjyn Days helped the fourth-ranked Hillgrove Hawks take a 14-0 lead in the first half of their game against South Paulding at Cobb Energy Hillgrove Stadium on Friday night.
So when he threw an interception in the third quarter that was returned 37 yards for a touchdown, cutting the Hawks’ lead to 14-6, Days made sure the Spartans would get no closer.
Days followed up his mistake with a touchdown run and a touchdown pass, his second of each, and Hillgrove went on to a 28-6 victory in the teams’ Region 7-AAAA Division B opener.
Hillgrove (5-0, 1-0) forced the Spartans (3-2, 0-1) to punt after three plays on their first possession of the half. But on the fourth play of the Hawks’ next possession, Days was intercepted by Ryan Ayers, who returned it untouched for the Spartans’ only score.
Hillgrove responded with an 11-play, 4-minute drive that was capped by Days’ 19-yard touchdown run on fourth-and-9 that was aided by two good blocks by receiver Josh Adams.
The Hawks put the game away when Days hit Jabari Hunt-Days with a 31-yard touchdown pass with 4:51 remaining for 28-6 lead.
The Hillgrove defense turned in another strong performance, holding South Paulding to 157 total yards, including just 38 rushing on 21 carries. The Spartans managed just 61 yards in the second half, including 39 on their final possession, when the game was no longer in doubt.
“Those guys work their tails off,” Hillgrove coach Phil Ironside said. “That’s when you become a good team, when you play defense. And we’ve gotten to where we play good defense.”
Days opened the scoring in the first quarter when he ran 34 yards for a touchdown with 1:32 remaining. His 9-yard pass to Chuby Uwadie with 48 seconds to play in the first half gave Hillgrove a 14-0 lead.
“We did some dumb things, the interception, the fumbled punt, some penalties, and [the defense] would come by me and say ‘I got you coach, I got you coach’ and they’d get our backs,” Ironside said. “You know how it is. When you’ve got a great defensive team, you’ve got a chance.”
Days finished with 157 yards on 19 carries. Hillgrove’s Kenyan Drake added 99 yards on 14 carries.
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