Joplin, Mo. -- After a summer full of hype and national attention, Dorial Green-Beckham finally stepped on the football field on Saturday night.
And the Springfield (Mo.) Hillcrest receiver didn’t disappoint. Green-Beckham was a dominating force as Hillcrest defeated Seneca (Mo.) 48-20 at Hughes Stadium. He finished with 18 receptions for 284 yards and three touchdowns as his Hornets cruised to a 1-0 record.
“It’s just how the game worked out," Hillcrest coach John Beckham when asked if he planned to go to Green-Beckham 18 times in the game.
Beckham looked back to the approach of former Houston Oilers coach Bum Phillips who used to get questions about why he gave Earl Campbell the ball so much.
“(He) used to say, ‘I figure I have a cannon so why not shoot it?',” Beckham said. “We have a cannon for one more year and we are going to shoot it from time to time. He was playing really well, he was getting open so we got him the ball."
Rated No. 3 overall in the ESPNU 150, Green-Beckham showed why he is generally considered the top receiver in the nation with his game-changing performance.
“I had some ups and downs but I came out and did the best I could do,” Green-Beckham said. “I made big plays for the team and tried to play my part, do the best I could do for my teammates.”
Productive but not perfect
Hillcrest quarterback Matt Futrell had a productive, but not perfect, game while leading his squad to a double-digit victory. The senior finished 28 of 47 pass attempts for 473 yards and five touchdowns but also threw three interceptions.
He was pleased with the win but knows he’ll have to improve when Hillcrest travels to Arkansas to play Rogers (Ark.) Heritage on Sept. 1. “I had a pretty good night but I can definitely improve a lot,” Futrell said. “I just have to improve next week, stay focused and get better.”
Biggest play not made by DGB
Hillcrest sophomore Juwan Johnson made a huge play for the Hornets. With his team holding a 7-6 lead early in the second quarter, Johnson caught a slant pass then raced 72 yards down to the Seneca three-yard line.
Stuart Andress’ three-yard touchdown run gave Hillcrest a 14-6 lead and Seneca could not cut the lead under double digits for the rest of the game.
With their offense putting up 48 points in the victory, the Hillcrest defense was the overlooked unit against Seneca. The Hornet defense allowed 218 total yards, including 84 rushing yards, and recovered two fumbles. They allowed 4.4 yards per play and held Seneca to 2.2 yards per rushing attempt.
“The defense did an outstanding job,” Futrell said. “They were put in tough situations and got us the ball back.”
Senior linebacker Donovan Mathis led the way for the Hornet defense with 10 tackles while senior linebacker John Taylor had seven tackles, including four sacks and one pass breakup.
Brandon Chatmon is a staff writer for SoonerNation.com