HOOVER, Alabama -- For the second year in a row, the Auburn Tigers defeated Hoover 39-14 Friday night at the Met. Last season in the Kickoff Classic at the Cramton Bowl, Auburn defeated Hoover 17-14.
Both teams lost key players from last season, but Auburn found a lot of answers to their questions against Hoover tonight. "We fought and scrapped, and I'm so proud of our team," said Tigers head coach Keith Etheredge. "Came out and made some big plays in the second half. We started slow on offense but came on in the second half. The defense played well early when we struggled on offense early in the game. Getting the score right after halftime was big on the interception."
Auburn (1-0) scored first in the game when kicker Townes McGough kicked a 55-yard field goal, and the Tigers led 3-0. "Townes is an unbelievable kicker," added Etheredge. "He is going to kick it out of the end zone every time, and any time we get inside the 50, we will get a shot at three points. That is such a big weapon in high school football."
Hoover (0-1) scored on a Jonah Winston one-yard touchdown run. A Noah Schuback pass to Jordan Woolen set up the Bucs first score. With the touchdown, Hoover led 7-3 with 9:09 left in the second quarter. With 4:14 left in the half, Tyler Flakes scored on a 9-yard touchdown run, and the Tigers took a 10-7 halftime lead.
The Tigers forced a three-and-out, and McGough kicked a 40-yard field goal as time expired in the first half, and Auburn led 13-7 at halftime.
As Hoover took possession to start the second half, on the second play of the Bucs drive, Jackson Mills picked off a Bucs pass and raced into the end zone for a score. With the touchdown, Auburn led 20-7 with 11:09 left in the third quarter.
Hoover drove right down the field, and with a fourth and one play in the Tigers territory, Winston scored on a 35-yard touchdown run right up the middle of the defense. With the score, the Bucs trimmed the Auburn lead to 20-14 with 6:55 left in the third quarter.
The Tigers came back to score again after the Bucs touchdown. With 1:43 left in the third quarter, Jackson Kilgore found Cody Palmer in the end zone for a 9-yard touchdown pass play. With the score, Auburn led 26-14. After another three and out, the Tigers scored on a Kilgore 21-yard touchdown run, and the Bucs defense was wearing down fast. With the score, Auburn led 32-14 early in the fourth quarter. "I was feeling pretty nervous to start the game, but after the first snap, it all went away," said Tigers QB Kilgore. "The offensive line was different today. I had to extend the play on the touchdown run. I tried to find someone open but just tucked it and ran. This game should be a statement when everyone sees that score tonight."
Defensive lineman Deuce White made two huge sacks and had an interception in the second half that was huge for the Tigers defense. "Deuce is unbelievable,” Etheredge added. “He’s a guy we have to practice against every day. I told the guys, ‘You can’t make me believe it’s going to be tougher than what we go through practice.’ Iron sharpens iron.”
After the Auburn score, the defense picked off a pass deep in Bucs territory, and with 7:41 left in the fourth quarter, Kilgore threw the ball to Ean Nation, who made a one-handed catch in the end zone for a Tigers score. With the touchdown, Auburn led 39-14 in the middle of the fourth quarter.