Never let an underdog think they can beat you, because they will.
Urbana came to London for the season opening game Friday a heavy favorite against a rebuilding London team. The Hillclimbers escaped with a sure victory, but not without a fight.
Urbana went up 6-0 early on a 31-yard touchdown pass from Nathan Hayes to Kaleb Bowdle. Then several major Urbana penalties and solid offensive play by London saw the home team overcome a slow start to take a 14-6 lead with 7:25 left in the first half.
London’s offense took the ball for its second drive and marched 88 yards with Zane Foucht hitting Ben Martin on and 18-yard pass. The Red Raiders drew ahead 7-6 with 1:13 left in the first quarter. The drive was assisted by a Hillclimber personal foul penalty and featured a difficult sideline reception by Michael Johnson for a 30-yard gain.
London’s defense played well and Urbana’s offense was out of sync, giving up a sack and delay of game penalty and fumbling a handoff that Aaron Lawson recovered to keep possession. London took the punt and went 86-yards in five plays with Martin going off tackled and cutting back then outracing everyone for a 52-yard touchdown and with the point after, a 14-6 London lead.
And that was it for the Red Raider highlights as the Hillclimbers regained composure. They cut back on mistakes while London started making big ones.
Over the next four minutes and four seconds going into the opening drive of the second half, Urbana scored 29 points on four touchdowns and surged to a 35-14 lead with the last score of the run, a 39-yard run by Tyree Andrews just 19 seconds into the third quarter.
That followed a 44-yard connection from Mays to Jaymen Neff, and 2-point conversion from Mays to Tyree Andrews; recovery of a London fumble by Andrew Burkhart that one play later was a Mays to Neff TD and finally, with 25.8 seconds left in the first half and leading 21-14, a two-play 77-yard drive ending with Mays hitting Andrews on a 73-yard score. Add in three Cooper Johnson extra points and Urbana was in command 35-14.
The Hillclimbers added another third quarter touchdown on a 59-yard Mays to Bowdle pass. He passed to Neff for the 2-point conversion and a 43-14 lead.
The game moved into the fourth quarter and London had recovered an Urbana fumble at the Urbana 42. London had just started its drive when distant lightning caused a delay with 11 minutes to play.