MURRAY — Cottonwood sent an emphatic message to Hunter and realistically the rest of 5A Friday night.
The Colts scored five straight touchdowns in the first half, including two defensive scores, en route to a dominant 46-9 Region 2 victory over a shell-shocked Hunter squad.
"Overall, it's the best performance we've had all year, so that was fun," said Cottonwood coach Josh Lyman.
There was no shortage of motivation for the Colts, who were looking to avenge a loss at Hunter last season that cost them a region title. Cottonwood running back Nadan Hosea scored the first three touchdowns, two running and one receiving. His 56-yard screen pass from Cooper Bateman was an electrifying display of athleticism as he broke four tackles on his way to the end zone.
"That was a crazy play for me. I've never scored on a screen. They normally don't pass the ball to me, but today I guess they did," said Hosea.
That was his only reception of the game, but he finished with 117 rushing yards on 12 carries.
With the win, Cottonwood improved to 7-0 overall but, more importantly, 4-0 in region. The region championship is a mere formality at this point for the Colts with games against Cyprus and Granger to end the season.
"We're looking forward to taking care of business the next two weeks and hopefully get two home games in the playoffs," said Lyman.
Already leading 22-0 early in the second quarter, the Colts broke the game wide open with back-to-back defensive scores. James Washington scored on a 34-yard interception return and three plays later Sione Folaumoeloa scooped up a fumble and darted 10 yards to increase the lead to 36-0 with 6:45 remaining in the half.
"Defense is lights-out, they're averaging one touchdown a game, and that always helps," said Lyman. "It's the best defense I've been a part of. It's our fastest and most disciplined defense we've ever had."
Down 36-0, Hunter responded with a 15-play drive just before the half that Jake Jex capped with a 37-yard field goal. It merely delayed the inevitable mercy rule.
Before Hunter's late first-half drive, Cottonwood's standout defense held Hunter to just 49 yards total offense and zero first downs.
Hunter finished the game with 205 yards total offense, but most of the damage was done against Cottonwood's junior varsity defense in the second half.