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Jalen Choice, Vanderius Robinson lead Hillcrest to win over Minor


Hillcrest's Riley Nix (2) runs the ball during the second half of Hillcrest's homecoming game versus Minor at Hillcrest High School on Friday, Oct. 25, 2013, in Tuscaloosa, Ala. The Patriots won, 24-7. (Photo by Laura Chramer | The Tuscaloosa News)


By Marc Torrence

Clinging to a three-point lead late in the third quarter with a playoff berth on the line, Hillcrest High School needed a big play and got one from Jalen Choice and Vanderius Robinson.

The pair combined on a blocked punt return for a touchdown to help Hillcrest to a 24-7 win over Minor on homecoming night that will send the Patriots to the playoffs.

"I can't say enough good things about these kids," Hillcrest coach Scott Martin said. "To come out and win and get themselves in the playoffs and keep the streak alive, what a great group of seniors. I couldn't be more proud of them."

Leading 10-7 late in the third quarter, the game had hit a lull with three straight punts to start the second half. The game changed on the fourth one.

Choice charged through the line and blocked a Minor punt, while Robinson scooped it up and ran it into the end zone.

"I was exuberated that I made the block," Choice said. "I was expecting it all night. I was just happy I got it. I wanted the return, but I let my teammate have it."

The block broke the game open after a close first half and the Patriots never looked back.

"I came through and saw Jalen had made the block," Robinson said. "I picked the ball up and it was just amazing. It was wide open. All congratulations to Jalen, though, for blocking the punt."

After recovering a fumble, the Tigers drove the ball into Patriots territory in the fourth quarter, looking for a comeback, but the Hillcrest defense held and an incomplete pass ended the comeback hopes.

The Patriots answered with a 12-play drive that ended with a Brian Robinson touchdown run to seal the win.

Hillcrest allowed only 179 yards.

"(The defense) played like they always play. It's a gutty group," Martin said. "They bend but don't break. When you keep somebody out of the end zone, it's hard for them to beat you."

Minor's Jaylond Adams opened the scoring with a 14-yard touchdown run in the first quarter. The Tigers looked to run away with the game, but a 41-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown was negated by a block in the back penalty.

In the second, Hillcrest quarterback Riley Nix scored on a quarterback sneak and Keanu Gueler added a field goal to give the Patriots a lead it wouldn't relinquish.

Hillcrest (5-4, 4-2) will close out its regular season at home against Demopolis next week.

Minor (3-6, 2-5) will travel to Fairfield.