ST. LOUIS • Hamilton did it again.
The Hornets overcame a 14-point deficit, took the lead in the fourth and poured it on late to beat Valle Catholic 60-34 in the Class 1 football championship game at the Edward Jones Dome on Friday. Hamilton (15-0) used a similar formula to beat Valle in the same game in 2009.
Derrick Hughes scored on a 5-yard run to put Hamilton ahead 39-34 with 7:08 left in the fourth. It was Hughes’ second of three touchdowns scored, and it held up as the game-winner.
“Those (Valle) big guys play both sides of the ball, and we knew if we kept running it down their throats, they would get tired,” Hughes said. “That’s what we did.”
Valle (12-3) came right back on its next drive and had the ball on the Hamilton 29 with less than three minutes left. But Nolan Wood’s fourth down pass to Tyler Fallert fell incomplete.
Hamilton went for the jugular on the next play as Drew Finch connected on a 71-yard touchdown pass to Kellen Overstreet to make it 46-34 with 2:30 left. Hamilton added two more late scores to turn what was in reality a close game into a laugher according to the box score.
“I thought we played outstanding for 44½ minutes,” Valle coach Judd Naeger said. “I thought we did everything we could do to win the football game. As bad as it ended up, we still had a chance with a drive in the fourth to win the game.”
Hughes led Hamilton with 218 yards rushing on 31 carries, while Overstreet added 129 yards rushing and two touchdowns. Finch went seven for eight passing for 182 yards and two touchdowns. Overstreet had five catches for 167 yards and two more touchdowns.
Fallert led Valle with 262 yards rushing on 32 carries.
Valle jumped out to a 14-0 lead on a 9-yard touchdown pass from Wood to Trevor Klump and a 27-yard run by Fallert.
Hamilton got back into the game early in the second quarter after an apparent Hughes fumble that was called back by a Valle penalty. Nine plays later, Hughes rumbled in for a 5-yard score to cut Valle’s lead to 14-7.
After trading touchdowns to end the half, Hamilton opened the third with touchdown runs by Devan Hughes and Overstreet to grab a 27-21 lead.
“I didn’t feel worn down at all,” Valle senior Joseph Moulton said. “They just kept being persistent and playing their hearts out, and we just came out with the short straw this time.”
Valle reclaimed the on a 40-yard touchdown pass from Wood to Justin Roth to make it 28-27 with 3:05 left in the third.
Overstreet scored on a 53-yard run 92 seconds later to give Hamilton a 33-28 lead.
But Fallert scored on a 52-yard run with 51 seconds left in the third to give Valle a 34-33 lead, setting up Hughes’ game-winner on Hamilton’s next drive.
“Our kids don’t panic,” Hamilton coach David Fairchild said. “You would probably see the same expression on their face whether we are down 14 or are 14 ahead.”
Hamilton’s senior class leaves with a record of 56-1 and three state titles.
“We’ve had seniors who know how to lead,” Hamilton's Jalen Richman said. “We don’t get big-headed and we stay focused.”