Prep football: Hamilton finally gets elusive first win, edges Middies in Butler Bowl

Hamilton’s Kaleb Johnson carries the ball between two Middletown defenders, including Kenny Wilson (17), during Friday night’s game at Virgil Schwarm Stadium in Hamilton. Host Big Blue won 15-14. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

caption arrowCaption
Hamilton’s Kaleb Johnson carries the ball between two Middletown defenders, including Kenny Wilson (17), during Friday night’s game at Virgil Schwarm Stadium in Hamilton. Host Big Blue won 15-14. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

As the students swarmed the Hamilton High School football team, Big Blue sophomore Keyshawn Stephens stood in the middle of the storm and celebrated Friday night.

Utilizing the direct snap, Stephens ran for 256 yards on 36 carries as HHS notched its first win of the season with a 15-14 triumph over Middletown at Virgil Schwarm Stadium.

In front of a big homecoming crowd, the Hamilton defense made a huge stop on fourth-and-1 at midfield with 53 seconds left to secure the win.

WEEK 7 FOOTBALL COVERAGE

Explore» Fessler soars, Fenwick roars in resounding defeat of CJ
Explore» Nick Graham’s photo gallery from Hamilton-Middletown
Explore» Streaking Fairfield too much for Aviators in 40-7 romp
Explore» Madison stays on unbeaten path, overwhelms Carlisle
Explore» Nick Graham’s photo gallery from Carlisle-Madison
Explore» Dobrozsi, fumble recovery spark East in rout of West
Explore» Badin finding ways to win, takes aim at upstart Purcell
Explore» Purcell moving to MVC, but keeping GCL ties with Badin

“This feels freaking great,” Stephens said. “My (offensive) line did a great job tonight, and once I saw the hole, I took off. We had a great week of practice and came in focused. It feels great to get a win and get over the hump.”

“Unreal,” HHS coach Chad Murphy said while watching his team celebrate. “I sure like winning more than losing. I am a junkie. I work hard at this, and I have worked harder this year than I ever have and we were 0-6. It feels great to get a win. I am happy for the boys.”

In a game mostly dominated by the Big Blue, Middletown made the most of its opportunities. The Middies used a fumble recovery to grab a 14-9 lead late in the third quarter, but once again faltered late.

“Same old, same old,” Middies coach Don Simpson said. “It’s like groundhog day. We just have to learn how to finish. It is up to the coaches to get the kids to buy in to the system and play a full 48 minutes. It is coming. We have to change the culture, but it is coming.”

Hamilton had several chances in the first half to grab control of the game, but squandered several opportunities in building a 9-7 halftime lead.

caption arrowCaption
Hamilton’s Jordan Jones (27) comes after Middletown quarterback Kamari Fuller on Friday night at Virgil Schwarm Stadium in Hamilton. Big Blue got the home win 15-14. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

Hamilton’s Jordan Jones (27) comes after Middletown quarterback Kamari Fuller on Friday night at Virgil Schwarm Stadium in Hamilton. Big Blue got the home win 15-14. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

caption arrowCaption
Hamilton’s Jordan Jones (27) comes after Middletown quarterback Kamari Fuller on Friday night at Virgil Schwarm Stadium in Hamilton. Big Blue got the home win 15-14. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

The Big Blue turned the ball over on downs three times in the red zone in the first half, aiding the Middies with costly penalties and bad snaps.

After faltering on a fourth-down gamble on the initial drive, Hamilton grabbed the early lead on a Zach Welch 34-yard field goal.

The Big Blue threatened again after recovering a Middletown fumble on the next series, but a holding penalty thwarted the drive.

HHS blocked a punt in the second period and Stephens cashed in with a 2-yard run to make it 9-0. Middletown cut the gap to 9-7 when Josh Bryant followed up a 49-yard run with a 2-yard scoring plunge.

“I really felt we should have been up at least 21-7 at half, but we kept shooting ourselves in the foot with a bad snap or a penalty,” Murphy said.

Bryant had a great night for the Middies by rushing for 150 yards, but was held from breaking big plays.

caption arrowCaption
Middletown’s Josh Bryant goes over Hamilton’s James Turner for a touchdown Friday night at Virgil Schwarm Stadium in Hamilton. The visiting Middies took a 15-14 defeat. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

Middletown’s Josh Bryant goes over Hamilton’s James Turner for a touchdown Friday night at Virgil Schwarm Stadium in Hamilton. The visiting Middies took a 15-14 defeat. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

caption arrowCaption
Middletown’s Josh Bryant goes over Hamilton’s James Turner for a touchdown Friday night at Virgil Schwarm Stadium in Hamilton. The visiting Middies took a 15-14 defeat. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

“We wanted to limit their big plays, and I thought the defense did a great job tonight.” Murphy said. “(Luke) Mattia didn’t come off the field tonight. He led the defense.”

Mattia led all players with 13 tackles, while Elijah Henson and Isaiah Harrison each had nine tackles. Jordan Jones chipped in two sacks.

Middletown capitalized on a fumbled snap at the Big Blue 13 midway through the third quarter. Bryant made the Blue pay with a 4-yard run to put the Middies up 14-9.

Trailing by five with nine minutes left, Hamilton took the lead for good when Kaleb Johnson (11 carries, 112 yards) took a handoff and went untouched 61 yards for a score. The host went for two, but the run was stopped.

With four minutes left Middletown recovered a muffed punt, but a field-goal attempt was wide left.

With under a minute to go, Bryant was stuffed on a fourth-and-1, enabling Hamilton to run out the clock.

Ty Johnson, Gene Underhill, Troy Vinson and Kenny Wilson each had eight tackles for Middletown, which fell to 1-6 overall and 0-5 in the Greater Miami Conference. Hamilton improved to 1-6, 1-4.

It was the fourth straight win in the series for Big Blue and kept the Butler Bowl traveling trophy in Hamilton’s possession.

Both teams return to action Friday, Middletown at home against Mason and HHS at Sycamore.

Middletown 0-7-7-0—14

Hamilton 3-6-0-6—15

H: Zach Welch 34 field goal

H: Keyshawn Stephens 1 run (Kick blocked)

M: Josh Bryant 2 run (Angel Rivera kick)

M: Bryant 4 run (Rivera kick)

H: Kaleb Johnson 61 run (Run failed)

About the Author