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SIMPSONVILLE — After winning a region championship in football for the first time ever in 2013, Hillcrest High had a repeat in its sights on Friday night and the Rams came out firing.
Hillcrest took a 14-0 lead before Woodmont ran an offensive play and the Rams went on to a 55-12 win. The victory gives Hillcrest (10-1) the Region 1-AAAA championship.
The Rams tied with Greenwood at 6-1 in region play, but Hillcrest earns the higher seed in the playoffs due to its 35-16 win over the Eagles on Sept. 26.
Standout senior defensive back Seth Nichols started senior night with a bang as he returned the opening kickoff 91 yards for a touchdown.
Hillcrest then recovered an onside kick. Three plays later, Collin Sneed fired a 21-yard touchdown pass to Kevin Eichelberger to stake the Rams to a 14-0 lead 52 seconds into the game.
With 1:34 left in the first quarter, Woodmont running back Watson Graham broke free for a 65-yard touchdown to cut Hillcrest's lead to 14-6.
After the Rams were stopped on fourth down at the Wildcats' nine-yard line early in the second quarter, Hillcrest recovered a Woodmont fumble on the next play. Two plays later, J.D. Ballenger scored from a yard out to push the Rams lead to 21-6.
Midway through the second quarter, Ballenger scored from three yards out on a fourth down play.
Woodmont answered on its ensuing possession when Jarius Paige-Jones caught a tipped pass for a 12-yard touchdown from Jonathan Sims.
Three plays later, Sneed threw a bomb to Brian Spurgeon, who caught the ball in stride and raced 64 yards for a touchdown and Hillcrest led 35-12 at the half.
Midway through the third quarter, Ballenger took a direct snap out of the wildcat formation on 3rd-and-1, turned the corner and went untouched for a 36-yard touchdown.
After watching his twin brother J.D. scored three touchdowns, Quintavis Ballenger found the end zone on a 1-yard touchdown run.
Woodmont fumbled on the next play from scrimmage and two plays later, Sneed threw a 23-yard touchdown pass to Grant Lawter to extend the Rams lead to 55-12 late in the third quarter.
The region title ensures that Hillcrest will have at least one home game in the Class AAAA Division I playoffs, which begin next Friday.
Woodmont finishes the season at 3-8, and 1-6 in Region 1-AAAA.
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