Julian Hylton may have set a personal season high for rushes in a game of two yards or less in host Lincoln-Way North’s Class 6A second-round game Friday night against Rich Central, but that doesn’t mean he was stopped.
Far from it.
The Phoenix running back got loose plenty of times, and when all was said and done he was the top producer in a 38-6 victory.
Hylton ran 32 times for 227 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Quarterback Ryan Arthur scored once himself, and although not throwing often, was an efficient 7-for-9 for 117 yards and another TD as North moved on at 10-1.
DeQuan Dudley scored on an 18-yard pass from Michael Hoover for Rich Central, which closed at 9-2.
“I’m just happy that the offensive line and our fullbacks keep making blocks even thought these teams are throwing different curves at them,” Hylton said.
Rich Central had a pretty big surprise for the Phoenix early on, going 80 yards on the game’s opening drive behind some fleet running by Ahmad McClellan (15 carries, 108 yards) and Hoover (15 carries, 77 yards)
Even after Hoover fumbled the ball away at the 10, the Olympians defense stepped up and stopped Hylton cold on three straight carries to force a punt.
A 1-yard gain by Hylton on the first play on the Phoenix’s next possession left him with just eight yards on four carries.
Arthur apparently loosened things up on the next play by connecting with Joseph Pacana for a 14-yard gain, because Hylton then found a nice hole up the middle and ran 37 yards for a touchdown.
“I was just kind of going off of what the line was giving me and reading the blocks that I had,” Hylton said. “I got a touchdown out of it, and it was a great thing.”
North’s offense then kicked into high gear, as Hylton bookended a 62-yard drive with runs of 10 and 25 yards. In between, Arthur and Pacana hooked up for a 21-yard pass play.
“We know that there are going to be times when teams are going to stop Julian, and I’m going to have to come up with some big plays,” Arthur said. “The coaches came up with a game plan, and we executed it to a ‘T.’”
Arthur scored himself on a 3-yard sneak and Osvaldo Salazar booted the PAT to make it 21-0 North, before Rich Central gave itself a glimmer of hope by tallying on Dudley’s TD reception with 16.5 seconds left in the half.
North, however, cashed in on its first possession of the third period, the climax a 30-yard pass from Arthur to Zachary Hoekstra.
Salazar added a 24-yard field goal and Pacana an 8-yard TD run as the Phoenix eased away.