'Hearts on our sleeves': Hallsville knocks off California to end tough week
CALIFORNIA — The Hallsville football team had plenty of incentive to beat California in Tri-County Conference action Friday night.
Not only did Hallsville want to beat its league opponent, it was also playing for two teammates who recently lost family members. With heavy hearts and a bond of unity, the Indians won every phase of the game, securing a 50-21 victory.
Hallsville moves to 5-3 overall and 2-1 in the TCC, while California drops to 6-2 and 4-2.
Hallsville coach Justin Conyers said this has been a tough week for his program.
“Not only did we lose Ryan Roberts’ mom, but my starting left tackle DJ Larkin also lost his grandfather, so it’s been a very heavy-hearted week in our locker room,” Conyers said. “For us to come out tonight, we talked about it before we took the field and we were going to play for Ryan and DJ.
"Obviously, Ryan is not with us and that is understandable, but we wanted to go out and wear our hearts on our sleeves and play tough for those two kids.”
Hallsville junior quarterback Tyger Cobb dedicated the game to his two teammates.
After the Indians' worst defeat of the season a week ago to state-ranked Blair Oaks, Cobb said he wanted to come out and play not only for Ryan and DJ but for the rest of his teammates as well.
Cobb rushed for one touchdown and threw for five others, including four to junior receiver AJ Austene, to put the Indians up by as much as 35 against the Pintos.
"He’s a tall and lanky receiver and he goes up and gets it,” Cobb said of Austene. “He attacks it and makes a lot of catches.”
Cobb said this game was extra emotional for the Indians.
“We were trying to win one for him,” Cobb said of Roberts. “We saw him yesterday at his mom’s visitation and that was pretty emotional. I mean, it’s sad to lose your mother and we were all there for him. He was in good spirits and he just wanted to see us and asked us to win for him.
"It definitely gave us motivation.”
Cobb led his team 80 yards on 11 plays for a score on a 2-yard run to put the Indians on the board late in the first quarter. The Indians never looked back from that point on while holding California scoreless for the first 24 minutes.
Cobb and Austene wreaked havoc on the Pintos all night. The first of four touchdown connections between the two came on a 19-yard floater across the middle with 6:59 left in the second quarter.
The Indians then had a little good fortune come their way on the ensuing kickoff, recovering a fumble at the California 37. Three plays later, after moving the ball down to the Pintos' 31, Cobb found Austene all alone on a pass down the sideline for a score to push the lead to 22-0.
The night got longer and longer for the Pintos after turning the ball over for a second time on a kickoff at their own 38. Seven plays later after moving the ball to the 14, Cobb hit sophomore Landyn Sievers on a pass for the score with 1:46 left in the first half to go up 28-0.
The Pintos answered right back by moving the ball 67 yards on three plays for a score on a 19-yard run by senior running back Tagen Higgins, cutting their deficit to 28-7 at halftime.
“Every year that we have played them, they have been a very physical ballclub, and so we knew we would have to step our game up in that realm, and I thought our kids really answered the bell tonight," Conyers said of playing California. "I thought we played well in all units. We bent but we didn’t break, and I thought we didn’t let adversity take over in the ballgame and hang our heads.”
California never got any closer in the second half.
Cobb and Austene hooked up again on the Indians' first possession after the break on a 37-yard scoring strike across the middle, growing the Indians' lead to 36-7.
California cut its deficit to 36-15, but the Indians were far from done.
A 19-yard pass from Cobb to Austene pushed the lead back up, and Hallsville scored again at the midway point of the fourth quarter on a 1-yard run by junior running back Trenton Hobbs to extend the advantage to 50-15.
Hallsville is scheduled to play Boonville (4-3, 2-3) in the final game of the regular season next Friday night.
Boonville was off Friday after its game against Eldon was canceled by the Mustangs.