/On a hot, hot day, ‘Dogs’ Kylin Hill was on fire

On a hot, hot day, ‘Dogs’ Kylin Hill was on fire

Hill, the Bulldogs’ talented, driven running back, rushed for 123 yards with a touchdown in just 14 carries. He also caught two passes for 19 yards. But those numbers aren’t the whole story. Hill displayed remarkable versatility and panache in what he did. He jiked. He bull-dozed. He ran. He powered. He spun. He leapt. He stumbled. He jumped. He did much of this after suffering what appeared to be a severe ankle injury at halftime. State was leading 14-0 and moving towards another score. The home crowd was cheery, or at least as joyful as one can get in the relentlessly hot 96-degree heat. Hill was stopped by Santrell Latham and Jacques Turner from USM. Two Golden Eagles rose. Hill did not. Hill did not. The Bulldog fans who had enjoyed Hill’s amazing running up until that point became suddenly quiet. State called a timeout. After two consecutive USM sacks, Tommy Stevens, the starting quarterback of State had already gone to the locker-room with what appeared to have been a shoulder injury. The Bulldogs with Garrett Shrader, a true freshman and a steady back-up quarterback, took a commanding lead at halftime, taking a 21-0 lead. Halftime announced that Stevens would be out of action and that Hill was not expected to return. When Hill ran five yards on State’s first possession, there was no doubt. Hill was really on display when he ran for five yards on State’s next possession. He accepted a handoff by Shrader, and ran to his right where he was caught by USM defenders. He broke free and ran to his right, speeding down field. Hill jumped over an Eagle defensive back who was diving at him. He was stopped for a 22 yard gain. Hill was attempting to tackle an Eagle tackler for the second time. It was simply breathtaking to see. “The guy was right infront of me. Hill stated, “I saw his eyes looking down and I knew he was going low.” Hill replied, “So, I just leapt over him.” Hill stated that he didn’t know the identity of the defender. Hill’s response was, “But when he walked past me he said, “Why have you got to do it that way?” Hill is on the right track. He has rushed for 320 yards, two touchdowns and 41 carries in his junior season. Joe Moorhead said, “Kylin is a small back with big skills in a large back’s body.” When asked to compare Hill to other backs he has coached, Moorhead replied, “It’s probably unfair to compare him to another back I coached.” This would be former Penn State runningback Saquon Barkley who ran for almost 4,000 yards in three Nittany Lions seasons under Moorhead’s offense and more than 1,300 yards last season as a rookie. Let’s see what the comparisons are. I’ll start. Barkley is listed as 15-20 pounds heavier than Hill at 215 pounds. However, both are fast and can catch the ball from the backfield. Both can do scatback in the open field. Both can push the pile. Hill was called “one of our best backs in the conference and the nation” by Moorhead. “The play can’t be blocked well enough to allow for a one-yard gain, but you look up and Kylin has four or five,” Moorhead stated. “He makes people miss …. “The sky is the limit for Kylin.” Jay Hopson, his USM counterpart will not dispute Moorhead’s assertions. Hopson stated, “I knew Kylin was a good player in high school.” “We had him in the backfield a couple of times today and he just wanted it forward and got his first down. Before I left the field, I grabbed his neck. He played an amazing game. He was a strong player. “We had the opportunity to wrap him up, but give credit to the young man.” Hill’s hurling is amazing to watch. However, State coaches (and medical staff) must be holding their breath. It increases the chance of injury. It is obvious that what goes up must also go down, sometimes very hard. Hill stated, “I don’t have to worry about that.” “It’s football. Injuries are part and parcel of the game. I do what feels natural.” For the hurdling, “I just do what is necessary.” Hill is the best back in league.” USM was out-rushed by Hill, 125 to 110. The statistics were remarkable for a 23 point game. State was ahead in first downs at 21-17 and total yards at 386-344. However, USM turned over the ball three times while State did not. Even though they lost their starting quarterback, the Bulldogs were much more efficient and made big plays. Stevens was especially sharp in the beginning, hitting nine of his first nine passes and throwing two touchdowns. He then grabbed his shoulder after Ty Williams’ second consecutive sack. Moorhead stated that Stevens would be evaluated on Sunday, but hoped he would be back sooner than later. There wasn’t much of a drop in the quality of Stevens to Shrader’s throws, who completed seven out 11 passes for 71 yards. Jack Abraham, the Southern Miss quarterback, was also outstanding when he had the time. He was a great thrower. His job would have been much easier if he had a back like Kylin Hill. USM does not have one. It is not common for many teams to have one.