From the opening kickoff to the final defensive stand, the Virginia AAA Northwest Region Division 6 semifinal had a “not this time” feel to it.
The past two years, Hylton had lost to Battlefield in the region playoffs after beating the Bobcats during the regular season, and that same scenario was cued up again Friday night at Hylton.
Not this time. Hylton junior quarterback Travon McMillian ran for two touchdowns and threw for a third — plays that covered 127 yards — and the Bulldogs followed up their season-opening shutout of three-time defending region champion Battlefield with another near-shutdown effort, 19-7, in advancing to the Division 6 final for the second consecutive year.
In the championship, the Bulldogs (9-2) will host Colonial Forge, a 31-30 semifinal winner at Stonewall Jackson, next week.
“It means a lot,” said Hylton senior lineman Chasz Wright, a three-year starter. “These are the guys that have gotten us the last two years. Records show it. So we decided to come out to get them in the first half . . . and don’t give them a chance to breathe.
“Everyone who doubted us? You know now.”
Hylton and Battlefield traded turnovers in the first three minutes of the game, the second being an interception by Bulldogs senior Garrett Wooding, who returned it to the Battlefield 38. Four plays later, McMillian faked a handoff and sprinted up the middle for a 21-yard touchdown.
The Bulldogs went up 13-0 midway through the second quarter when McMillian connected on play action with junior Terrin Allen-Neal for a 56-yard touchdown.
Battlefield mounted a drive of more than six minutes toward the end of the first half, thanks in part to a 21-yard pickup when senior quarterback Ryan Swingle found senior Nick Newman amid three defenders at the Hylton 21-yard line.
Later in the drive, the Bobcats had first and goal at the 9-yard line but got pushed back to the 19 on third down on a sack by junior Brian Roberts. Hylton blocked a 36-yard field goal attempt with 30 seconds left in the half.
Down 13-0 to start the second half, Swingle hooked up with sophomore Corey Parker for a 59-yard gain on the first play. On fourth and goal from the 1, senior Austin Thibodeaux scored his team’s first touchdown in six-plus periods against Hylton this season.
Hylton needed only seven plays to mount a 79-yard drive late in the third quarter. McMillian sprinted up the middle for a 50-yard touchdown to make it 19-7.
In the middle of the fourth quarter, Battlefield dumped to Thibodeaux for a 37-yard pickup for a first down at the Hylton 16-yard line. But after three incompletions, Bulldogs junior Lawrence Hunt intercepted Swingle.
“It’s a great feeling,” McMillian said. “They beat us two years in the playoffs in a row, so we got our revenge back.”
Hylton will be vying for its first region title since 2005. Colonial Forge, coached by former Hylton coach Bill Brown, is 0-3 in region finals. Hylton beat Colonial Forge, 35-16, on Oct. 12.