The Butler Bowl trophy found its way back to Hamilton on Friday night, thanks to a smashmouth effort by Hamilton High School’s football team.
Maleek Jarrett pounded his way to four touchdowns as visiting Big Blue rushed for 309 yards and rolled to a 47-26 Greater Miami Conference victory over winless Middletown at Barnitz Stadium.
“They couldn’t stop us today,” said Jarrett, a senior bruiser in the backfield who ran 28 times for 157 yards. “We knew that if we kept pounding the ball against them, they were going to eventually give up.
“Going into this game, I thought that we could blow them out. We ran the ball as well as I thought we were going to run it. The line did a good job, and we put points on the board and didn’t mess up in the red zone much.”
Quarterback Khaliyal Sowell showed some power and quickness of his own with 20 carries for 106 yards and a touchdown, while Johnny Jones collected 49 yards and a score on five runs.
Jones added a second touchdown on a 19-yard scoring toss from Sowell, who was 6 of 9 for 61 yards. Jones, a senior slot receiver, collected 219 all-purpose yards between rushing, receiving and returns.
“I can’t even say much. It’s just a good feeling,” Jones said. “We worked hard all week. It’s a big rival. We gave them our all, they gave us their all. We’re just blessed to come out on top.”
It wasn’t an easy day for HHS coach Chad Murphy. His mother was hospitalized and underwent a serious medical procedure in Middletown, so he missed school and didn’t ride with the team to the stadium.
“The leadership and focus I saw in this team when I got here was the best I’ve seen all year,” Murphy said. “That was such a refreshing thing to see, and then to see the performance on the field. I feel like our guys just did what they were supposed to do tonight.”
Big Blue trailed 14-7 after one quarter, than ran off the next 34 points in the highest-scoring contest in the 69-game history of this series.
Hamilton improved to 2-4 overall and 2-2 in the GMC. The Middies slid to 0-6, 0-4, and couldn’t stop their losing streak from extending to 16.
“What you saw out there tonight was one team physically dominating another team. That’s what happened in the second half,” said Middletown coach Lance Engleka, whose squad only trailed by six (20-14) at intermission. “They came out and said, ‘Here’s where we’re going to run the ball.’ That’s what they did, and we didn’t stop it.
“When the ball’s snapped and the line of scrimmage is moving three yards in the wrong way for us every snap, they’re going to get a lot of positive yards that way. It continued to do that, and we continued to play on our heels.”
Quarterback Zach Maloney had a hand in all four Middie touchdowns. He ran for two scores and hit Blake Marshall and Josh Bryant for TDs, completing 19 of 33 passes for 307 yards.
Big Blue stayed the rushing course after falling behind in the opening period, and it paid off in a big way.
“I wasn’t really concerned. I knew we were going to turn it on,” Jones said. “I knew that everybody wanted it as bad as I did. We came in here and discussed it a little bit at halftime, and we went out and played our butts off.”
Murphy admitted he’s had to adjust his coaching mind-set this season.
“I’m a spread offense guy. I’ve been running the spread as long as anybody in this area,” he said. “But it’s clear to me that we need to run the ball. We’re pretty good up front, and we’ve got some backs that are doing pretty good things with the ball in their hands.”
The 5-foot-9, 205-pound Jarrett consistently punished Middletown defenders.
“I like to deliver the blow most of the time,” a smiling Jarrett said. “Knowing it’s my last time playing Middletown and getting the win on them, I’m always going to remember this.”
Jason Smith totaled five tackles for loss for Big Blue, and Jai’Shawn Deaton recovered a fumble. Caleb Hundley returned an interception for a touchdown, but the TD was negated by a penalty.
“Hats off to Middletown. I knew we were going to get the best they had to offer,” Murphy said. “The two inside defensive tackles they’ve got (Ayron Thompson and Keion Williams), I think those two dudes are two of the best defensive linemen in the GMC, and there’s a bunch of good ones. They’re selfless guys playing both ways to try to give their team the best shot.
“I still believe if we just take care of us and don’t turn the ball over, we’ll have a chance in every game we’ve got left. We need to keep winning. We’re going to try to make the playoffs and all that fancy stuff.”
It was the third straight win for HHS over the Middies, who still lead the series 36-30-3.
“That trophy means a lot,” Murphy said. “There’s a lot there between our kids and Middletown kids. It’s fun, and it should be. Just playing here makes me think of the history. I can remember being in eighth grade and my dad bringing me here. It was Chris Wells’ senior year playing inside linebacker for the Middies. I sat up in the bleachers and watched some of the phenomenal players that came through here.”
De’Yon Brown picked off a pass and Edward Roque grabbed a fumble for Middletown. Williams was named homecoming king at halftime.
Both teams are back in action next Friday. The Middies travel to Mason, while Hamilton hosts Sycamore.
M: Zach Maloney 8 run (Sa’Mill Calhoun kick)
H: Maleek Jarrett 3 run (Gabby Oliva kick)
M: Blake Marshall 18 pass from Maloney (Calhoun kick)
H: Johnny Jones 23 run (Oliva kick)
H: Jarrett 1 run (Run failed)
H: Jones 19 pass from Khaliyal Sowell (Jones pass from Sowell)
H: Jarrett 1 run (Oliva kick)
H: Sowell 17 run (Kick failed)
M: Josh Bryant 23 pass from Maloney (Kick failed)
H: Jarrett 8 run (Kick failed)
M: Maloney 10 run (Kick failed)