PEARCY, Ar. — Lake Hamilton coach Tommy Gilleran starter the 6A playoffs with a secret weapon Friday night against Searcy at Wolf Stadium.
Sophmore fullback Hayden Barton had been playing in the shadow of senior Kendrick Martin all season, but Gilleran started the youngster against the Lions. Barton responded with 180 yards and three touchdowns on 12 carries in Lake Hamilton’s 55-21 victory.
Searcy (4-7) never led, but was competitive for 10 minutes. Junior quarterback Easton Hurley scored on a 1-yard sneak, and Barton romped 36 yards for a six-pointer with 3:24 left in the first quarter. Less than two minutes later the Lions scored on a 14-yard run by junior quarterback Tyler Strickland.
The Wolves only needed three plays to answer with Justin Crutchmer scoring from six yards with 38 seconds left in the opening quarter.
Searcy couldn’t keep pace with Wolves
Lake Hamilton blew the game open with four touchdowns in the second quarter for a 49-7 lead at intermission.
Crutchmer hauled in a 61-yard scoring pass from Hurley, who finished 7 of 9 for 180 yards. Crutchmer rushed for 29 yards on five carries and two TDs and caught four passes for 121 yards. Barton and Martin scored the final two TDs of the half.
Gilleran cleared his bench in the second half and the Lions outscored Lake Hamilton (9-2), 14-6. Barton re-entered and scored the Wolves’ final points on a 9-yard run. Ricky Love and Caleb Cunningham scored the final two touchdowns for Searcy.
Strickland was Searcy’s leading rusher with 118 yards on nine totes. He also passed for 144 yards.
Lake Hamilton plays at Benton next week, and Greenwood hosts Russellville in the quarterfinals.