On the first Friday night of the 2021 season the Homewood Patriots (1-0) and Hillcrest Patriots (0-1) gave fans plenty to take in at Roy Johnson Jr. Stadium. Homewood senior JC Daniel kicked a 27-yard field goal with five seconds left in regulation to secure the 37-34 win on the road.

Homewood was able to pull off the upset of Hillcrest thanks to a monster effort from junior quarterback Woods Ray. Ray completed 13-of-30 passes for 282 yards with four passing touchdowns, he also carried the ball 19 times for 94 yards and a touchdown.

"I had so much fun, coach puts so much trust in me. He made the great calls. It wasn't just me, it was a team effort," said Ray. "It's so much fun. Last year year I split reps and now it's my team. I just love every single one of them and if wasn't for them we wouldn't have done it."

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Ray hooked up with several receivers including Daniel who made the game-winning kick. The quarterback found junior Jackson Parris for a 16-yard TD, Daniel and Aron Marsch each with 65-yard scores and Harvey Ray for a 25-yard TD.

"Woods had a great game, they were in man coverage all night long and he threw the ball well and our receivers fought for the ball and made some big catches," said Homewood head coach Ben Berguson.

The game stayed extremely tight throughout the contest between the two Patriot programs with neither side ever able to muster a two-score lead. Each time momentum swung one way the other side was able to answer respectively.

Homewood thought they would take a lead into halftime but a smooth 2-minute drill by the Ethan Crawford led Patriots sent both sides into the locker room tied at 20. Crawford would finish the game 17-of-27 passing for 226 yards with three passing touchdowns and carried the ball twice for six yards and two more touchdowns.

The prolific quarterback was able to find Terrance Callaway four times for 103 yards and two touchdowns. He found senior Derek Hall three times for 56 yards and a score.

Hillcrest will look to its mistakes as to why the game was so close. The Patriots lost two fumbles on the evening and was stopped on fourth down in the redzone.

"It's just completely frustrating to lose a ball game that we just - two turnovers, third down long-scores, that's a recipe for disaster," said first-year Hillcrest head coach Jamie Mitchell.

Hillcrest now turns its attention to bouncing back against cross-town rival Tuscaloosa County. The Wildcats with first-year head coach Adam Winegarden will look to break a seven-year losing streak to the Patriots next week at home.

"We've got to take care of us. I know it's a big game to a lot of people for a lot of reasons. We've got to get better at a lot of things. It's not about who we play with me, it's about us. Us getting better at what we do. I know that game means a whole lot to a ton of people. We're going to look at this thing and we'll regroup, we'll get better. I promise you this, we'll be ready to go," said Mitchell.

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