Hollywood Hills kicked off the regular season with a 34-25 come-from-behind win over Piper Thursday night, but it came at a big cost.
Starting receiver Edward Aldred and cornerback Ronald Clayton were each carted off the field by paramedics in the fourth quarter, leaving teammates and coach Al Lang distraught with concern.
Aldred, who caught 15-yard touchdown pass late in the first half, sustained a serious knee injury after he chased after a pass out of bounds and ran into the shrubbery along the Spartans’ sideline at McArthur High.
Clayton took a vicious hit from teammate and safety Shaddrick Lowery while both were attempting to break up a pass later in the game. Clayton, who was moving his legs, is believed to have sustained a concussion.
“First time in 25 years I’ve seen something like that,” Lang said of having two players carted off and sent to the hospital in ambulances. “This is bittersweet. We came back and fought, but when you lose top players like that — two of our best players — it hurts. We’ve just got to be ready to play next week. Our prayers are with those boys.”
The Spartans fell behind 17-12 late in the first half, but scored twice with under minute to play in the first half to take a 27-17 lead into the break.
Quarterback Darius Greene (5-8, 160) scored on a nine-yard run with 53 seconds left in the second quarter. After Lamont Clarke recovered a fumble on the ensuing kickoff, Greene connected with Aldred on a 15-yard score with 19 seconds left in the half.
Greene, who finished 10-of-19 for 143 yards and two touchdown passes, left the game in the fourth quarter with a right knee sprain. But that was hardly bothering him as much as seeing his best friend, Aldred, leave on a stretcher and in an ambulance.
“When I heard him screaming I knew it was bad,” Greene said. “I’m just angry it happened.”
Piper, which lost to Hallandale 70-20 last week in a preseason game, turned the ball over five times including twice on kickoffs. Starting Jesse Barrows was knocked out in the first quarter and was treated by paramedics after he was crushed while scrambling for a first down.
Bengals coach Roger Mitchell said Barrows was concussed and left for Memorial Hospital in Miramar.
Backup quarterback Dayvon Medina, a sophomore, and junior tailback Travis Liburd (5-9, 175) helped carry the Bengals. Liburd ran for 122 yards and a touchdown and also scored on a screen pass he took 80 yards.
Despite the turnovers, Piper still had a chance to steal the game in the fourth quarter. But Medina was picked off by Hills linebacker Edward Daise with 2:34 remaining. That sealed the victory.
“That’s not the same team that lost to Hallandale last week,” Lang said. “Everything we said about them bouncing back came to light. Those kids played hard. We were undisciplined in the first half. But our kids just fought back and earned this.”