JASPER — After scoring the go-ahead touchdown midway through the fourth quarter, Hamilton County couldn’t hold off Interlachen in Friday’s Kickoff Classic at Veterans Stadium.
The Rams twice converted on fourth down to keep their game-winning drive alive, edging the Trojans 18-16 after scoring with three minutes left.
Foster Bristol, who led HCHS with 80 yards on 10 carries, put the Trojans back in front when he capped an eight-play drive that last four and half minutes with a 5-yard scoring run with 7:27 to go. Omar Lopez’s extra point put Hamilton up 16-12. The go-ahead score came one play after a 13-yard Nigel Cherry run on fourth-and-4.
After converting a key fourth down on their own scoring drive, the Trojans gave up a pair of fourth-down conversions on Interlachen’s ensuing drive.
On fourth-and-10, the Trojans were flagged for pass interference to give the Rams new life. Four plays later and with the Rams needing five yards, Kaleb Wiggins ripped off a long run. He then threw a 23-yard touchdown to Thomas Mack three plays later.
Hamilton’s last chance ended when Tyler Whetstone was intercepted on fourth-and-long.
The Trojans turned the ball over three times, fumbling once and throwing two interceptions. Hamilton totaled 221 yards of offense — 217 rushing on 30 carries.
The Trojans led 9-6 at halftime after a 29-yard field goal from Lopez midway through the first quarter and a 29-yard Jeremiah Gibson touchdown run in the final minute of the first half and two plays after the sophomore speedster ripped off a 35-yard run.
That touchdown from Gibson, who had 70 yards on five carries, came 93 seconds after Interlachen grabbed the lead with a 1-yard Wiggins TD run on fourth down — the third fourth-down conversion of that drive.
The Rams regained the lead on the first drive of the second half when D.J. Polite scored from 15 yards out.
Interlachen rushed for 171 yards as a team on 40 carries, while Wiggins completed six passes for 85 yards.
The Rams lost a pair of fumbles, the first recovered by HCHS linebacker Kane Miller at the IHS 37 set up the first quarter field goal by Lopez.
Hamilton travels to Lafayette on Friday for the regular season opener. Kickoff is slated for 7:30 p.m.