Hillsdale downs SHP to stay unbeaten

With the Hillsdale Fighting Knights seeing their standing in the Peninsula Athletic League drop from the Bay Division to the Ocean Division this season, the gist of their claim they should have remained in the Bay — as head coach Mike Parodi wanted — was they did not finish in outright last place in 2016.

Finishing last season tied in the cellar of the Bay Division with Terra Nova, posting a 1-4 league record, Hillsdale’s lone win in league play came in its first-ever meeting with Sacred Heart Prep.

The Knights (3-0 overall) made it two in a row over the Gators in Saturday’s non-league matchup, rolling to a 34-10 victory at Palatella Field. And they did it with a flare as the tempo and physicality the Knights demonstrated seemed more akin to Bay Division football.

Hillsdale outgained SHP 421-354 in total offense, balancing the attack of senior quarterback Jeremy Teteak and senior running back Nick Hulman.

“We’ve got some pretty dynamic dudes back there,” Parodi said. “We’re melding together right now. So it’s going to be fun to watch the next couple weeks.”

Hulman enjoyed his third big week in a row. Entering the game with 326 yards rushing through two games, the workhorse running back muscled for 139 yards on 16 carries and a touchdown. Teteak balanced the attack with great precision, completing 11 of 14 passes for 156 yards and two TDs.

“Balance is whatever it takes to win,” Parodi said. “So I could care less what our statistical performance is either side of the ball. … I’m about getting first downs, and the touchdowns.”

Hillsdale came up clutch on the game’s first possession in establishing what became a recurring them. With SHP advancing to the Hillsdale 34-yard line, the Knights produced stops on third and fourth down. The stop on third-and-2 saw Hulman and outside linebacker and senior defensive tackle Charles Gingold drill an off-tackle run for a 1-yard loss. SHP went on to convert just 4 of 13 third-down tries in the game.

The Gators (1-2) were even less effective on fourth downs, converting just 1 of 4 in the game. And an incomplete pass by senior quarterback Brad Yaffe on that first possession saw SHP turn the ball over on downs, teeing up Hillsdale from its own 35.

Six plays later, the Knights found the end zone. Hulman didn’t break off many big runs in the game, but an inside trap sweep on the Knights’ third play from scrimmage saw the senior chew up 42 yards for a first-and-goal from the 7. After Teteak got sacked on second down, he connected with junior receiver Quincy Sherman for a 14-yard score, with Sherman extending the ball across the pylon, giving Hillsdale — with a missed point-after try — a 6-0 lead.

The score remained the same for most of the smashmouth half of football, with SHP missing another chance on its second possession. The Gators moved the ball well after a 40 pass completion from Yaffe, scrambling in the backfield, to a wide-open senior Kyle Cody for a 40-yard pickup to the Hillsdale 45.

Sophomore running back Tevita Moimoi then made rushing gains of 9, 5 and 5 yards before junior Brad Tinsley enjoyed an 11-yard run on a third-down reverse that would have given the Gators the ball in the red zone. At the end of the run, however, Tinsley had the ball stripped by Hillsdale junior cornerback Ethan Landry, and the Knights recovered.

Then, after the teams traded punts, Hillsdale hit pay dirt with 1:14 remaining in the half. Teteak gained consecutive first-down yardage, first with an 11-yard run, then with a 10-yard pass to Hulman to cross midfield. On the ensuing play, Teteak spotted a streaking Jordan Avalo slip behind the secondary and lofted a 42-yard pass on the money for a touchdown, giving the Knights a 13-0 lead.

SHP got on the board on the final play of the half when senior Peter Larson booted a 31-yard field goal to make the score 13-3. But in the second half, things went downhill in a hurry for the Gators.

“Through the early-going we did OK,” SHP head coach Mark Grieb said. “And then … in the second half we started to wear down a little bit.”

The Gators lost senior Jack Donnelly on the opening kickoff of the second half. A two-way player as a running back and linebacker, Donnelly made the tackle, but injured his elbow on the play. It is the second injury to key personnel in as many weeks for the Gators. Last week, in a 42-6 win over Sobrato, junior running back/linebacker Tommy Bards was lost to injury for at least four weeks, according to Grieb.

“Losing [Donnelly] would be a tough loss,” Grieb said. “So, hopefully he is OK.”

Hillsdale opened the half with a rare offensive miscue when Hulman, at the end of a 13-yard run across midfield, coughed up a fumble that was recovered by SHP junior John Willard. On the following play, however, SHP fumbled to give the Knights possession at the SHP 47.

Hillsdale went on to score on each of its next three possessions. The weak-side offensive line of Gingold at guard and senior tackle Declan Hart were consistent in allowing Hulman to eat up yards.

“We need to give him as much as we can,” Hart said. “[Hulman] is a talented guy, clearly, but if we give him just an extra inch, we know we can believe is his ability.”

After passes by Teteak of 22 and 13 yards, Hulman scored a 4-yard run to make it 20-3. Hulman went over 100 yards for the third straight game on Hillsdale’s next possession, earning gains of 2, 4, 8 and 9 yards.

“[Hulman] gets more excited and more hyped as the game goes on,” Teteak said. “No matter what happens in the game, he just wants to be a part of it.”

Then sophomore running back Kasimili Tongamoa touched the ball for the first time of the day, breaking a 27-yard scoring run to put Hillsdale up 27-3. Three plays into the fourth quarter, Sherman scored the Knights’ final TD with a 15-yard run to make it 34-3.

SHP got into the end zone with 1:41 remaining in the game when junior John Denniston bounced of the left edge for a 3-yard score.

Yaffe completed 11 of 29 passes for 155 yards; Cody totaled four receptions for 84 yards; and Moimoi had a team-high 61 rushing yards on 12 carries for SHP.

“I think we’re just as physical,” Donnelly said of the matchup. “They just out-game-planned us. They played well.”

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