Science Hill might still be seeing Stars after the knockout punch delivered by Siegel.
However, the Hilltoppers’ season hasn’t been counted out after a 64-38 defeat Friday night in Murfreesboro.
“You never want to get beat like that,” said Science Hill head coach Stacy Carter. “But I think it helped the program. We saw things we need to work on, and things to shuffle around to beat a team like that. We will be a better football team in game 10 because of what we went through.”
What the state’s sixth-ranked team endured against No. 8 Siegel was an offense whipping a defense in epic fashion. The Stars gained 563 yards, including a deep-ball passing clinic put on by Dakota Crane, and they did it in just 45 plays, a stunning average of 12.5 yards per play.
Crane hit on 10 of 14 passes for 376 yards, averaging 38 yards per completion. He threw five touchdown passes, coming from 85, 67, 80, 32 and 31 yards. His favorite receiver was Weston Hayes, who had five catches for 172 yards.
It was a combination of precision, athleticism and defensive breakdowns.
“They hit those passes, for one thing,” said Carter. “They were stretching the field on a night where they were hitting everything. They have about six of the best players collectively I have seen on one team. Their kids can flat-out run. And we had a couple of breakdowns, of course. The defense would play good for one or two plays, and then give up a bomb. You can’t give up that many big plays.
“We could have done better, but we had to commit to stopping the run game, too. We were stopping them on the run, and they were big-playing us. It was pick your poison. They are so explosive.”
Bad as it was defensively, the Hilltoppers’ offense was only 38 yards short of Siegel’s production — although they ran almost twice as many plays (85). The ’Toppers rushed for 297 yards, getting 164 from quarterback Malik McGue on 25 carries. In the air, McGue was 23 of 42 for 228 yards.
“We moved the ball like crazy,” said Carter. “It wasn’t like they ever really stopped us. We just kept on rolling and attacking.”
McGue had three touchdown passes, but was also picked off three times.
That Hilltoppers’ attacked right to the end, and that was part of the reason they gave up the most points they have surrendered since springing a 78-point leak against Bradley Central in 2000.
“As far as the points deal, that was my fault,” said Carter. “I’m sure we could have held that down, but we were still attacking. We were trying to win that game. There was no quit in this football team.”
Also, the Hilltoppers had a couple of major things go against them when the game was still within reach. McGue had a 43-yard touchdown pass called back for being ruled beyond the line of scrimmage when he passed, and the Stars got 105-yard interception return from Denzel Harding.
Carter said Harding is an unbelievable athlete, but the call on McGue was incorrect.
“Malik was behind the line of scrimmage when he threw the pass,” said Carter after watching the film. “Also, the referee called (the penalty) after the TD signal. We would have cut it to 14 at the end of the third quarter. The game would have been a lot closer if one or two things went our way.”
In the late stages of the game, Carter said both teams were pretty much out of gas.
“Basically at the end for us, it was just Malik dropping back and running around and finding people,” said Carter.
The bottom line for Science Hill is putting this loss in the rear-view mirror.
“We better put it in perspective and realize we have another real tough team (Brentwood Academy) coming in Friday,” said Carter. “You learn a lot and get exposed playing a good football team. We’re able to make adjustments now, instead of the playoffs and being one and done.
“I think looking at these two games, we needed to win one of them. And the one on the road was the hardest one. We need to get this win on Friday.”
Brentwood (2-3) has lost three straight games.