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While the Hilltoppers offense showed flashes of where it can be when it grows up, the defense had no answer for Belen’s running attack.
Daniel Jarmillo rumbled for 178 yards on 19 carries behind a monster line led by 338-pound Samson Chavez in just three quarters. The Eagles other first-team running back, Steven Contreras, also found plenty of openings in the Hilltoppers porous defense.
Homecoming wasn’t exactly spoiled by the state’s No. 2 team, but it was dampened as the Eagles ran over the Hilltoppers 62-21, all without their starting quarterback who was out with an injured knee.
If there was a drop in performance, it was difficult to detect.
“We knew they were going to come out and run it down our throats,” said Hilltoppers head coach Garrett Williams. “That’s why they are No. 2 in the state.”
Still, there’s hope Williams said. It’s a matter of consistency.
While Hilltoppers quarterback Kory Balog had some stellar moments, including a 75-yard jaunt for a touchdown in the second half, he also threw a pair of interceptions.
The Hilltoppers several times got started on drives that looked headed for a score only to be turned back by their own miscues – penalties at the wrong time – and turnovers.
“I definitely think we have a great chance at winning our district,” Williams said. “If we can just hold it together and be more consistent.”
An example of how the evening went for the Hilltoppers:
In the third quarter, the Hilltoppers defensive lineman Travis Milligan recovered a fumble at the Eagles 49.
The Hilltoppers took a one-yard loss on a run on first down.
A high snap from center forced another loss on second. On third and 12, Balog threw an interception to the Eagles’ Dante Berry, who returned it to the Hilltoppers’ 26 yard line.
Four running plays later, Armijo scored for a 48-14 lead on a running play.
Play of the game for the Hilltoppers was Balog’s 75-yard ramble for a touchdown on a quarterback keeper at the start of the third quarter.
He also had a nifty run in the second half, leaping over a defender close to the goal line and setting up a run by David Brock for a touchdown on the next play.