ATLANTA, Georgia -- Quarterback Bennett Meredith threw for over 300 yards and three touchdowns in the first half and the Hoover Bucs rolled to a 38-14 win over North Gwinnett Saturday night in the Corky Kell Classic in the Mercedes-Benz Stadium. North Gwinnett scored the first touchdown of the game, but the Bucs came roaring back to score 31 points in the first half and to go on for the win.
Hoover (1-0) had 481 yards of total offense and really played well in the game for their first win of the season. "We play to a standard everyday of ourselves and accountability," said Bucs head coach Josh Niblett. "That is a tough team we played with a lot of good players. We got some deep shots early in the game, then our O-line took over and played physical. I could not be more proud of our players playing in this venue and our community that showed up. We were out five guys today and players stepped up and made plays."
On the first series of the game, North Gwinnett quarterback optioned off right tackle and raced 73 yards for a touchdown. The Bucs came right back on their next possession and scored on a Meredith to Cotton Peters on a 44-yard touchdown pass play. With the score, Hoover tied the game at 7-7.
The Bucs defense shut down North Gwinnett for most of the first half and they kept giving the ball back to the offense. With 3:32 left in the first quarter, K.J. Law took a swing pass from Meredith and ran 82-yards for a touchdown. With the score, the Bucs led 14-7. With 10:18 left in the second quarter, the Bucs offense struck again. Cotton Peters was wide open in the end zone and Meredith connected with the senior wide receiver for a Hoover score. With the touchdown, Hoover led 21-7. "Bennett did a good job of taking care of the football," added Niblett. "Our O-line did a great job of protecting him. We did a good job on third down. Our receivers did a good job of getting open. When we took our shots, Bennett didn't miss. Proud of his command. He understands."
With 6:55 left in the half, Meredith scored on a 4-yard run around the left end. That touchdown was set up by a long pass from Meredith to Lamarion Mccammon. With the Bucs score, they opened up the game at 28-7. With 1:19 left in half, Peyton Argent kicked a 39-yard field goal and Hoover led 31-7. A half back pass from North Gwinnett on the next series led to a touchdown but the Bucs lead to 31-14 at the half.
In the second half, the Bucs defense rose to the occasion as they shut down the North Gwinnett offense not giving up a point in the second half. After the 73-yard touchdown to start the game, Hoover held North Gwinnett to 200 yards of total offense the rest of the game. "Our kids really handled well our warmup because we didn't really know when our game would start and we only had 20 minutes to warm up," said Niblett. "We came out ready to play. We've had a great camp of fall practice and it showed tonight. This was such a great experience for our kids to be a part of. We have a little bit of an edge and we have a tough schedule but we will take it one week at a time."
The Bucs final touchdown came on a Ahamari Williams 34-yard touchdown run and the Bucs led 38-14 with 3:00 left in the third quarter.
Meredith completed 16-of-26 passing for 328 yards with three touchdowns and the 4-yard touchdown run. "We have really focused on having great energy," said Meredith. "We wanted to control the tempo of the game and we did that. I think we wore them out in the second half with our run game and really just slowed the tempo down when we had the big lead. Coach Nib and Tad make it easy on us with the play calling. We just have to execute it." Cotton had seven receptions for 137 yards and two touchdowns.
Williams rushed for 120 yards on 13 carries and one touchdown. "It felt good to get that first win under our belts," said Williams. "The O-line did a great job of getting that initial push. I think as a unit we will get better after each game."
Argent consistently kicked the ball in the end zone after the Bucs scores and kept forcing North Gwinnett to start from their own 20-yard line along with his 39-yard field goal. The Bucs had key players out of the game and they look to get them back on the field soon.
Up next, Hoover will host Alpharetta, Georgia at the Hoover Met Friday night.