Hoover’s visit to the Corky Kell Classic as the first-ever out-of-state program to grace the event was a memorable one – for everyone from Hoover – after the Alabama team defeated North Gwinnett 38-14 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium Saturday.
“Well, it’s just big for our program,” said Hoover coach Josh Niblett. “We are all about playing in big games. To be in this venue and our guys settled down early and we made some plays early, that was good to see.”
North Gwinnett scored early on a 73-yard run from Ethan Washington but from then, Hoover managed the game.
Hoover scored four unanswered touchdowns and a field goal after Washington’s run before North’s next scoring drive and then proceeded to hold North scoreless in the second half to take the win.
“We were able to keep moving the football,” he said. “We were good on first downs and then we were able to take some shots.”
The Bucs led 14-7 after the first quarter and 31-14 at the half but a 34-yard run from Ahamari Williams in the fourth quarter put the game out of reach. Zach Johansen passed to Marek Briley for an 80-yard touchdown with a minute left before the half, but North Gwinnett’s offense struggled to create momentum in the second half.
Hoover’s senior quarterback Bennett Meredith was 16-of-26 passing for 333 yards and three touchdowns while rushing for one touchdown. Cotton Peters had two touchdown receptions and gained 137 yards on seven catches. KJ Law made three receptions for 95 yards and one touchdown – an 82-yarder with 3:32 left in the first quarter.
“If you don’t turn the ball over on offense and you get takeaways and you play good on special teams, you always have an opportunity to win,” Niblett said. “Our kids know what the expectations are. It doesn’t matter if we are in Mercedes-Benz or at home next week, it is all about playing to our standard.”