BOULDER — Hayden football took control from the start on Saturday night.
The Tigers recovered the opening kick and took over on the Justice 21-yard-line. Patrick Hunter capped the drive with a 20-yard touchdown run in Hayden's 56-12 win over Justice.
"Recovering that was huge," Hayden coach Ryan Wilkie said. "We haven't played yet, so that month off, we didn't know what we were going to get. The kids stayed focused through that break and you've got to give them a lot of credit."
The Hayden defense came up huge, while the offense put in a steady scoring dose led by quarterback Garrett St. Clair. Hayden kept Justice from crossing the 50-yard-line until under a minute left in the first quarter.
"I thought we were physical," Wilkie said on what stood out to him. "It's been a long time since we were that physical."
After the defense forced a three-and-out, St. Clair rolled out right and found an open receiver in the endzone to give Hayden a 12-0 lead with 5:30 in the first quarter.
St. Clair had five total touchdowns and two interceptions for Hayden.
"(St. Clair) had a big day for us," Wilkie said. "He's been playing since he was a sophomore at quarterback and at corner since he was a freshman. He's earned where he's getting to."
Another Justice punt put the ball in St. Clair's hands and he took advantage again.
"I have to go back to my offensive line," St. Clair said. "I gotta worship those guys, man. They were outstanding tonight. I've got to give it to my two backs, (Hunter) and Frentress, they stood out tonight. They rushed the ball as best they could."
St. Clair converted a big 4th and nine by scrambling to his left, then he connected with Hunter on a 14-yard touchdown to put the Tigers up 20-0.
With Justice facing a 4th and one from the 44, the Hayden defense held, and the Tigers took over the ball. And again, St. Clair padded Hayden's lead. The Tigers quarterback took a designed run for a four yard touchdown run.
"We had great blocks up front," St. Clair said. "Our offensive line kicked some butt and our backs were speedy. We stayed up, drove our feet and did what we were supposed to."
The next drive, Hayden ripped off two big runs to push the lead to 36-0. Daylon Frentress broke off a 37-yard run, then Hayden ran it in from the 41.
A 65-yard touchdown pass from Enrique Romero to Justin Hunyadi drew Justice closer before halftime, then Mario Diaz intercepted a St. Clair pass, and Justice started grabbing momentum.
St. Clair rose to the occasion, this time on defense. On fourth down and goal from the three, St. Clair intercepted the pass in the endzone and Hayden took a 36-6 lead into the break.
"We knew we had a gameplan coming in," St. Clair said. "We figured that we were ready to go, and we did what we needed to do."
And again, the Hayden quarterback intercepted a pass. This time, St. Clair returned the ball 45 yards to the five. St. Clair took the snap at quarterback and finished the job with a five-yard touchdown run to cement the score at 50-12 before the backups took over.