Hood Breaks Out in Opener

CHARLOTTE, N.C. --- A packed crowed showed up for Saturday's mega-matchup between Charlotte Catholic and Washington (D.C.) Gonzaga. And Catholic's star running back Elijah Hood delivered.

Having both played the night before, North Carolina commitments Cayson Collins and Robert Dinkins decided to drop by Charlotte Catholic for the game – which was a back-and-forth 35-28 Catholic victory – to deliver some "UNC love."

"Those are some great guys," Hood said. "I know them personally – they're great friends."

Less than a week ago, Hood, a 6-foot, 209-pounder, de-committed from Notre Dame citing a desire to stay closer to home and listed UNC as the favorite.

After Saturday's game Hood was completely mum on his recruitment. He responded to all recruiting questions – including about his decision timeline and if UNC was still his favorite – with "We'll see."

As an emotional Hood attempted to walk off the field following the game, reporters bombarded the state's top prospect.

"I just wanted to win," Hood said. "That's all that mattered, that's all I care about. We played as a team – that's all that matters. All that matters is that me and my team won this game. We went out there and put our hearts out there and won this game. I'm just happy right now. That's all I wanted was a win."

Hood was by far the star of the game. He scored all five of Catholic's touchdowns and rushed for 323 yards on 37 carries (8.7-yard average). He had nine rushes of over ten yards, including touchdown runs of 47 and 63 yards.

"That's my offensive line, they do a great job," Hood said. "They put their hearts out for me, I put my hearts out for them. We give each other our best and that's what you get – you get a great performance."

On all but two of his 37 carries, Hood gained positive yards after initial contact was made with a Gonzaga defender – most of the time he had to break several potential tackles. Moreover, Gonzaga's defense consisted of three future FBS players, including Georgia Tech pledge Miles Taylor and '15 lineman Richie Petitbon, who UNC has offered.

"That's just heart and that's just me wanting to win and that's just my offensive line inspiring me," Hood said. "They were asking me to lead them and I'm trying to do my best."

Hood's fifth score – a four-yard scamper – late in the game proved to be the game-winner.

"What was going through my head was ‘It's not over yet – there's 55 seconds on the clock. I've got to get out there and seal this game up,'" Hood said.

Hood's job wasn't complete because he also saw significant time on defense at linebacker, particularly during crucial plays and drives. That meant returning to the field as a defender minutes after an exhaustive game-winning drive. Typically, Hood will only see the field on offense for Catholic.

"I'm a little bit more tired than normal, but I've got to do what I've got to do to get the victory," Hood said "… They put me out there to provide some leadership and to make some plays, and I think I did that. I inspired our defense when it counted most."

Hood made six stops and deflected a pass.

Elijah Hood Profile

Inside Carolina Top Stories