It was a scorcher in more than one way at Hoover High School in Alabama for the opening of the 2014 high school football season, as Miami Central running backs Anthony Jones and Cedric Miller rushed for over 250 yards combined to elevate the Rockets (1-0) to a 24-21 win over the Hoover Bucs (0-1) in a battle of national top-10 teams.
This one started shaky for Miami Central. Hoover blocked two first half punts, allowing the Bucs to build an early 7-0 lead on good field position. The scoring drive was highlighted by a Jack Hutchison touchdown pass in what would be one of few big plays in the first half for Hoover.
Despite a handful of brilliant catches by Da'Vante Phillips and a hard-nosed 122 yard first half by Central running back Cedric Miller, the Rockets entered the half trailing 7-6 with a number of missed opportunities on their minds.
Central made excellent second half adjustments and ran a simple, two-to-three play offensive running scheme that utilized running back Anthony Jones the entire second half.
Jones, a speedy guy who will find crevices and make you miss in open space, had a highlight reel second half, ripping off 133 yards on numerous open-field runs and a plethora of 7-to-9 yarders to help Central gain a 21-7 lead with just over 10 minutes remaining in the third quarter.
Hoover, a program that had a 30-game winning streak and had won 84 its previous 90 games, wasn't going to go down quietly, however. The Bucs shortened the gap to 7 on a Jack Hutcheson to Trey Brackett touchdown pass against Central's man coverage, and tied the game late in the fourth quarter when star running back Bradrick Shaw, who until that point had been held in check, ripped a 19 yard touchdown run to give the home crowd life.
This was a Miami Central run-and-gun kind of day, however, and running back Anthony Jones proved that on the ensuing drive, ripping a 46 yard run to the Hoover 27 yard line with just under two minutes remaining in the game. Malik Atkins would then add another 10 to get into the red zone with time ticking, and with 45 second left, Miami Central kicker Beymar Piraquve, who until then had been having a tough day, kicked a game-clinching 31 yard field goal to give Central the 24-21 win.
The game had national implications for both schools and capped a 2-0 Miami-Dade night, as Central's Miami-rival Booker T. Washington took it to Oscar Smith, Virginia, 57-21 in another marquee matchup.