Hoover (Ala.) High has fought all season to show it's a player on the national scene - using an impressive road shutout over South Carolina power Duncan (S.C.) Byrnes in its season opener and then eight more wins to move up to No. 6 in the RivalsHigh Top 100.
But on a night when the rest of the Top 10 rolled, Hoover got more than just a 20-13 victory. It got a lesson: You need to take care of your home state first.
Madison (Ala.) Bob Jones gave Hoover all it could handle, even taking a fourth-quarter lead, before the Bucs rallied for their biggest win of the year.
"We finally woke up and stopped shooting ourselves in the foot," quarterback Ryan Carter told the Huntsville Times. "Our offensive line took over and won the game."
Carter helped, too.
Carter was just 13-for-24 for 168 yards, but he had the biggest passing plays of the game, connecting twice with Jaylon Denson on the game-tying drive, including a 10-yard scoring strike.
Then, after Hoover got the ball back, running back Justin McArthur took over, carrying the ball on seven of eight plays before going in from the 2 for what proved to be the winning score.
McArthur finished with 148 yards.
Hoover finished the regular season with a perfect 10-0 record and one big reminder.
RivalsHigh take: The Bucs were either very sloppy or nearly the victim of home cooking. The penalty flags were raining down on Hoover to the count of 16 to 1 in favor of the home team. Hoover has played the most demanding schedule in the Top 10 and this game padded that.
For complete coverage, check out this game story in the Huntsville Times.
Here's a look at other top games involving RivalsHigh Top 100 teams in the Atlantic East, South and Great Lakes regions:
No. 25 Miami Central 49, Prattville 28
Central didn't play a South Florida opponent - but it did send its rivals a message.
Behind the play of quarterback Rakeem Cato and running back Devonta Freeman, Central was all but unstoppable - dismantling an always solid Prattville (Ala.) High program.
"Our guys are buying in to what we're trying to do and this is the right time to jell," Central coach Telly Lockette told the Miami Herald.
Cato was 32 for 39 for 382 yards and four touchdowns. He didn't throw an interception. Freeman was just as good, going for 206 yards on 26 carries and two touchdowns.
But don't be confused - these weren't big stats against a weak opponent.
Prattville (7-3) led in the first half and tied the game at 28 in the third quarter. It just didn't have any answers for Central's dynamic duo - an all too familiar feeling for many teams in South Florida.
RivalsHigh take: Games like this are good for Prattville. Yes, losing by 21. This Lions team is very young but is growing into a serious threat to make a state final. The Lions will be a team to be reckoned with next season. Central got all it wanted for three quarters before pulling away late.
For complete coverage, check out this game story in the Miami Herald.
No. 52 Mallard Creek 76, West Charlotte 30
Hmm, now how is this for efficiency?
Marquise Williams completed just 11 passes (he only threw 15) but made them count for 326 yards and six touchdowns. And if that weren't enough, he ran the ball 12 times for 129 more yards and another score.
That's 455 yards of total offense and seven TDs for the quarterback of his now 10-0 team.
As a team, Charlotte (N.C.) Mallard Creek had 643 yards of offense - including 77 on the first play from scrimmage, when Williams connected with Kevin Asante on a TD pass.
Asante finished with four TD catches.
RivalsHigh take: Mallard Creek is a team on the rise. Giving up 30 is worrisome, but the team is scoring a ton of points. It will be interesting to see how the team fares in the playoffs, against more complete teams.
We've told you how crazy the format for the Indiana state playoffs are - the ones where every team is in and seeded is based on a blind draw rather than by records.
Did we mention how crazy the games can be, too?
Fishers (Ind.) High led by just three with three minutes to play in the game and was punting from its own 14 on a fourth-and-8.
Sounds like the perfect time for a fake. Or what looks like a fake. Fishers coach Rick Wimmer explained just what punter R.C. Hauser did to the Indianapolis Star.
"It was not a fake punt. It was a punt where he has the green light (to run)," he told the paper. "Anytime we call our rollout punt, it's on. (Hauser's) had some great punts out of that and he's had two or three times where he's taken the ball and gotten the needed yardage. He's done a great job of recognizing what's available and making great plays out of it."
The play ended Carmel's run of four consecutive trips to the 5A title game. None, however, were stopped by a play like this.
A play that had first-year Carmel coach Kevin Wright tipping his hat.
"You got to play contain on that (Hauser fake punt)," he said. "If it works like it did, it's a dagger. If we make a play, we've got the ball (deep in Fishers' territory). They just made more plays than what we made."
RivalsHigh take: Well Indiana, thanks for playing. Time to get ready for basketball season. With top ranked teams Warren Central, Carmel and Center Grove all falling, it signals that either Indiana is a much deeper football state than we had given credit to or the playoff seeding system is flawed. Hmm.
Pittsburgh (Pa.) North Hills coach Jack McCurry has been around a while and seen plenty while chalking up 268 high school victories.
Win No. 269 may have been one of his most satisfying. And it started with an honest assessment.
After scouting a Wexford (Pa.) North Allegheny team that was averaging nearly 40 points a game - and giving up fewer than a touchdown - McCurry knew he needed make some changes.
So he did. Swapping out his defensive allotment and starting quarterback.
"Man for man, they are so much better than we are," he told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "So we had to do some things differently. We changed the defense and that helped. We put in some gadget plays and tried to mix things up a little - and that helped."
It helped produce a 21-16 victory that will give his school the top seed in the playoffs and likely reduce often-powerful Pennsylvania to just one team in the RivalsHigh Top 100.
RivalsHigh take: This is a great win for Penn Hills, a team that has been a marginal disappointment the last two seasons, to see the writing on the wall and make an adjustment. The Indians may not be a threat to win the state title but the win is a good signal that they are serious about making a run at it.