Hug set the tone of the game early, with its first drive taking nearly eight minutes up of the first-quarter game clock. The drive resulted in five first downs, and a 32-yard field goal by Aaron Serrano gave the Hawks the initial lead, 3-0 with 4:18 left in the opening quarter.
"We had our backs against the wall a little bit today," Hug coach Rollins Stallworth said. "We lose this game, we're probably out of the playoffs. We win, we still have a chance at the playoffs and still have a shot at the league championship with only one league loss so far."
Spanish Springs' offense did not start off as well as Hug's. Jalen Dixon received the punt and ran nearly 20 yards before fumbling and giving Hug back the ball.
"We obviously made too many mistakes but gosh Hug came up with almost every play they had to come up with," Spanish Springs coach Scott Hare said. "If there's a situation where if you're Hug and you say we have to have a play right now, they made it."
Hug (2-3, 1-1 HDL) kept the ball the rest of the quarter and on the first play of the second quarter, David Knowles carried on 3rd-and-goal from the 1-yard line for the score. Serrano's point after gave Hug a 10-0 edge with 11:55 left in the second quarter.
Spanish Springs (3-2, 1-1 HDL) gave up possession on a three-and-out but got the ball back on an interception by Cougars' Thomas Perkins. While Hug seemed to be able to capitalize on Spanish Springs' miscues, the Cougars couldn't do the same, missing a field goal attempt after the interception.
"That was really the biggest difference," Hare said. "They knew that had to win it and they made the plays they made. We also had three, four, five turnovers. We also didn't make any plays that we needed to make to be successful tonight."
After retaking possession, Hug strung another drive together for a touchdown. On 1st-and-29 from its own 16, quarterback AJ Bennet passed to Tre Johnson for another touchdown for the Hawks, with 5:17 left in the half. Serrano's PAT was no good, setting the score at 16-0.
"They made the plays when they needed to make them," Hare said. "They had a sense of urgency. They were 1-3, they were 0-1 in league and they came out with a sense of urgency. They had a sense of urgency that they had to win tonight and I don't care really who they played tonight."
Hug added another touchdown with 1:01 left on a carry by Knowles and a 23-0 halftime lead for the host Hawks.
"We felt we've been playing pretty good ball to win football games," Stallworth said. "We just hadn't played four quarters of good football. We went into the game thinking, 'you know what, we matched up well against them.'"
The squads didn't budge on offense in the third quarter with neither one able to muster a score. The Cougars put together a drive in the waning minutes of the third that carried over into the fourth. Dominic Smith carried on the opening play of the final quarter to put Spanish Springs on the board. Smith carried on the 2-point conversion, trimming the lead to 23-8. That was as good as it would get for Spanish Springs.
"They're a running team and we're actually a pretty good run defense team and so we thought we matched up well," Stallworth said. "We just really needed to pick this game up offensively and do some of the things we needed to do offensively. Our kids needed to make some good plays."
Bennett passed off to Lotulelei Isi from the 5-yard line for the score and a 29-8 lead with eight minutes left on the clock. Hug got one more score in, with 4:16 left in the game. Jevon Brown carried for the score, from 33 yards out and the final 36-8 score.
For Spanish Springs, Smith had 12 carries for 64 yards rushing. Thai Ivory had 52 yards on four carries.
Hug's Bennet threw for 296 yards on the night and Johnson had six carries for 174 yards receiving.
"I don't care if Deion Sanders was covering Tre (Johnson) tonight, he would have made those plays, no matter who was covering him," Hare said.
The Cougars will play at North Valleys next week at 7:30 p.m.