ALLISON PARK - Hollidaysburg shrugged off a two-and-a-half hour bus ride to Hampton and found a way to win a slugfest, 17-13.
"We had some great talks this week about the ride up, about getting ready during pre-game, about playing hard all game, and these kids rose to the challenge," said Hollidaysburg head coach Homer DeLattre. "I've never been more proud of a team in my 12 years as a head coach."
Hampton's CJ Arch fumbled on the first play from scrimmage, and Hollidaysburg, despite not converting a third and 2 three plays later, got three points off of a 32-yard field goal by Eric Miller.
Down 13-10 to begin the second half, Hollidaysburg attempted three deep passes in their first four offensive plays. Their first drive ended in a three and out, but Golden Eagles quarterback Josh Bickley found Daniel Baker wide open for a 69-yard reception to start their next drive.
"Our run game was pushing our offense down the field and our offensive line was giving me time all game, and their cornerbacks and safeties bit on the run on the right play," Bickley said.
Bickley found Ryan Waltz two plays later in the back of the end zone for a 5-yard, game-winning touchdown pass.
Big offensive plays from Hampton's passing game gave them the first half lead.
Hampton's Eddie Edwards ran a quick slant in the first quarter and turned what looked like a short reception for a successful third down conversion into a 73-yard footrace and touchdown. The extra point attempt failed when the ball ricocheted off the right goal post.
Hampton scored the only points of the second quarter when quarterback Nick Grabowski faked a handoff to CJ Arch. The defense bit on the play action, leaving Jon Floss wide open down the left sideline for a 49-yard touchdown pass.
"Other than those two plays the defense played really well together against a very good, balanced offense," DeLattre said. "They tackled well and got pressure on the quarterback."
Hollidaysburg's hurry up, read option offense gave Hampton's defense trouble throughout the first two quarters, though they only found the end zone one time in the first half.
"Hampton is a difficult defense to play against, and they were bringing people from the edge and middle, but you just have to make the right reads," said Hollidaysburg quarterback Josh Bickley, who finished the game leading all players with 230 yards passing and 87 yards rushing.
Bickley faked a handoff to running back Greg Dinges and ran 10 yards for Hollidaysburg's first touchdown to cap off an 11-play, 65-yard drive in the first quarter.
"Early on they were successful running inside and they made some crucial third down plays, and they executed in those key situations," said Hampton head coach Jacques DeMatteo.
Hampton nearly got a two-possession lead over Hollidaysburg with just under two minutes left in the first half. On first and goal from the four-yard line Talbots quarterback Nick Grabowski couldn't handle the snap from under center, and Hollidaysburg's Michael Roberts recovered the loose ball.
"Turnovers effect the game a lot, and this game summed up our first two games of the season when we turned the ball over in crucial situations," DeMatteo said. "When we eliminate turnovers we play better football."
The Golden Eagles defense forced Hampton to punt on their first four second half drives and forced the Talbots to turn the ball over on downs with just over three minutes left to play. Hollidaysburg's running game then ran the ball seven times for 25 yards to bleed the clock out.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Hollidaysburg10 0 7 0 17
Hampton 6 7 0 0 13
HO Miller 32 field goal, 10:25
HA Edwards 73 pass from Grabowsk (kick failed), 8:49
HO Bickley 10 run (kick), 5:09
HA Floss 49 pass from Grabowski (kick), 6:52
HO Waltz 5 pass from Bickley (kick), 6:55
RUSHING: Hollidaysburg Bickley 26-87, Dinges 8-35, Ruggery 7-22, R. Miller 2-8. Hampton Arch 16-42, Alex Bianco 2-12, Grabowski 8-5, Floss 1-6.
PASSING: Hollidaysburg Bickley 15-22-1-230. Hampton Grabowski 10-19-0-227
RECEIVING: Hollidaysburg Baker 4-106, Dinges 3-44, Waltz 4-31, Dongell 3-26, Ruggery 1-23. Hampton Edwards 3-102, Floss 5-81, Nate Hyre 2-44
INTERCEPTIONS: Hollidaysburg none. Hampton Schmitt.