Hoover 21 - Macedonia Nordonia 14Overtime - Division 1 Regional Semifinal
November 11, 2007
Again, Vikings magical in OT
Chris Beaven, Canton Repository
MASSILLON Steam swirling over his head on a cold Saturday night, James Georgiades tried to make sense of another wild night of Hoover High School football.
“Oh my gosh…I’m speechless,” the senior captain said just outside the Hoover locker room at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium.
That’s the way the Vikings leave people these days, with their heart-racing and mind-scrambling playoff run.
Hoover won its second straight overtime game, beating Nordonia, 21-14. in a Division I regional semifinal.
“It’s one of those years right now,” Hoover head coach Don Hertler Jr. said.
This win needed only one overtime to complete, unlike last week’s five-OT marathon over Toledo St. John’s. But all that matters to the Vikings (10-2) is they play Brunswick (12-0) for a regional title. The game is expected to be played Saturday at Parma’s Byers Field.
“I’m in awe right now,” said senior tailback Phillip Howard, who scored the game-winning touchdown.
Howard scored on a 4-yard run on the third play of overtime, following the blocks of Georgiades and Kenny Moore. Kevin Dahl, one of the stars of last week’s win, made an 18-yard catch over the middle to set up the score.
Nordonia had the ball last and failed to gain a yard.
Dahl knocked away a pass on first down. Greg Tischler, with help from Georgiades and Dom Boyle, sacked Nordonia quarterback Aaron Pankratz on second down for a 5-yard loss. Matt Wakulchik broke up a pass on third down. A fourth-down pass slipped through the hands of a Nordonia receiver near the goal line to end the game.
That resulted in the Vikings exuberantly sprinting onto the field to celebrate for a second straight week.
Unlike last week, when Hoover scratched and clawed its way out of a 16-0 deficit to force the overtimes, the Vikings were in total command against Nordonia. They ran 83 offensive plays to Nordonia’s 43 with a 20-11 edge in first downs.
Defensively, Hoover forced four first-half turnovers, two coming on interceptions by Joe Cerreta.
But the dominance never showed on the scoreboard.
Hoover spent a frustrating three quarters coming up with ways to avoid reaching the end zone. A fumble, a penalty and old-fashioned stalled drives kept the Vikings knocking but never finding their way in.
They settled for an 8-0 lead thanks to a safety recorded by Dahl and a pair of Wakulchik field goals.
“We were in the red zone I don’t know how many times and couldn’t punch it in,” Georgiades said.
Hoover moved the ball within the Nordonia 30 on seven of its first eight possessions. None ended in a touchdown.
“We’d move it down the field, and I’d screw it up, we’d screw it up,” Hertler said. “Something would happen.”
The result was Nordonia constantly being within a possession of tying the game.
The Knights made it 8-6 when Pankratz threw a 28-yard TD pass to Ryan Clark on the second play of the fourth quarter. Boyle knocked away a 2-point pass to preserve Hoover’s lead.
But after so much offensive frustration, the Vikings needed just more than a minute to push their lead to 14-6. Wakulchik returned the ensuing kickoff 61 yards to the Nordonia 28. Five plays later – on their 46th play inside Knights territory – Wakulchik caught a 13-yard TD pass from Jared Wackerly. The PAT failed.
Nordonia tied the game with 1:08 left in regulation. The Knights put together a five-play, 73-yard drive in 1:26. Pankratz hit Zak Alders with a 4-yard TD pass. Pankratz then completed the 2-point conversion pass to a diving Brian Vollmer.
That forced overtime where the Vikings thrive these days.
“We’re getting lucky and our kids are just playing hard and they keep plugging,” Hertler said. “We’ve just got some kids that make plays.”