The Hapeville Charter defense turned in a dominant performance on Friday at Wesleyan en route to a 35-0 shutout that wasn’t even as close as the score indicated.
The Hornets (3-1) were so suffocating, in fact, that the 220 yards worth of penalties the team committed were more than twice total yardage allowed to the Wesleyan (3-1) offense. The Wolves passed for only 86 and rushed for just 17 more, totaling 103 yards of offense, 33 of which came on one play.
“It’s nothing new,” Hapeville Charter coach Winston Gordon said after the game. “Our defense has done that all year. They put in the work over the summer, and we’re seeing the fruits of their labor. We have a lot of outstanding guys over there.”
Like Kingsley Enagbare, a senior South Carolina commit, who was in on two sacks, multiple other tackles for loss, and so many quarterback pressures that the Wesleyan offense was forced to commit an extra blocker, sometimes two, to his side of the defense. Senior Richard Hayes, Jr., was also in on a pair of sacks and provided a steady dose of pressure himself. Junior cornerback Malik Fleming snagged an interception on the Wolves first possession of the game, and senior safety M.J. Latimer grabbed another and returned it 59 yards for a score near the end of the first half to give the Hornets at 21-0 lead.
“Our defense is so versatile,” Enagbare said. “I feel like we have one of the best in the country. We’ve got some of the best (defensive backs) in the country. I think we’re only going to get better.”
Wesleyan got as far as the Hapeville Charter 18 once in the first half, failing to convert a fourth-and-1 and never making it closer than the 39 for the rest of the game.
“It’s a big confidence boost,” Enagbare said. “We knew this was possible with all the work.”
But this game wasn’t all about the defense. The Hornets offense was potent from the start, methodically moving the ball to the Wesleyan 10-yard line in six plays on the opening drive of the game, before tossing an interception to prematurely end the threat.
Hapeville Charter recovered, though, piling up 498 yards of total offense in the game, including 348 on the ground.
Harper Atkins led the way with 16 carries for 172 yards and a touchdown, gaining nearly half of those after contact. Marcus Carroll carried 15 times for 97 yards, and Tyleek Collins added 49 yards and two touchdowns on seven carries. Collins opened the scoring for the Hornets, carrying around right end, juking hard to left, heading back to the right and leaving a trail of fallen defenders in his wake.
Atkins’ 5-yard run with 4:10 left in the second quarter made it 14-0, and quarterback Hajj-malik Williams’ 38-yard pass to Rory Starkey on a well-executed play fake made it 28-0 in the third quarter. Williams finished 12-of-18 for 150 yards to go with his touchdown and interception.
Collins added another 5-yard score in the fourth quarter to round out the scoring at 35-0.
It wasn’t a perfect performance for Hapeville Charter, though, as it was tagged with 22 penalties for 220 yards in the game.
Gordon said it was something the team would address over the off week.
“We’ll clean that up, get healthy, and come back out ready for region play,” he said.
The Hornets play against South Atlanta at Grady Stadium on Sept. 22, while Wesleyan hosts Our Lady of Mercy next Friday.