Hoover 40 - Toledo St. John's 33Five Overtimes - Division 1 Regional Quarterfinal
November 4, 2007
Hoover wins in 5 thrilling OTs
Sunday, November 4, 2007
Chris Beaven, Canton Repository
NORTH CANTON Knocked down at halftime and nearly counted out in regulation, the Hoover High School football team would not quit.
Not when they needed big play after big play late into the fourth quarter and not through five grueling overtimes, where twice their season could have ended.
The Vikings were going to keep playing until they finally found a way to win.
Erick Howard’s 1-yard touchdown run and one final defensive stand finally gave the Vikings their 40-33 win over Toledo St. John’s in a Division I playoff game Saturday.
Everyone who attended the game at North Canton Memorial Stadium will remember this five-overtime classic for a long time – especially the players.
“It was intense,” said junior cornerback Jeff Meek, who broke up three passes and made a tackle for loss in the overtimes. “You had to play hard every play in that overtime.”
Meek’s voice trailed off there, probably from exhaustion.
Senior linebacker Kevin Dahl, standing to Meek’s right, grabbed his teammate by the shoulders and said, “I feel you.”
All of the Vikings were stunned by the four-hour game. The five overtimes took just more than an hour to play alone. The final two minutes of regulation took just less than 30 minutes.
Three times in the final six minutes of the fourth quarter, St. John’s had chances to put the game away, but each time Hoover found a way to stay alive.
Dahl said the thought of losing never entered their minds. “You can’t think of it like that,” he said. “You’ve got to keep fighting, keep playing.”
The last time came in the final minute, when the Titans were unable to run out the clock with the ball inside their own 10. St. John’s was forced to punt and popped up a 19-yarder that gave Hoover a chance to force overtime. The Vikings took over at the Titan 25 with 29.9 seconds left, trailing 16-8, and scored in four plays.
Quarterback Jared Wackerly, who attempted 51 passes, threw a 15-yard touchdown pass to Dahl over the middle with 7.2 seconds left. The Vikings then had to make a 2-point conversion play to force overtime. Wackerly found Matt Wakulchik on that play.
The teams traded touchdowns in the first two overtimes, with Hoover’s coming on two of Wackerly’s four TD passes. He hit Greg Beck for 6 yards and Wakulchik for 9. Wakulchik finished with 12 catches for 140 yards and two scores.
The teams traded field goals in the third overtime, Wakulchik hitting from 36 yards. In the fourth overtime, each team missed a field goal, with Dahl blocking St. John’s attempt first. The Vikings saw their attempt at a win sail wide right.
Hoover had the ball first in the fifth overtime. Wackerly threw a 15-yard pass to fullback Mitch Rose to get them to the 5. Howard ran the ball the next three plays, scoring from the 1. Wakulchik added the PAT.
The Titans, who outgained the Vikings, 336-244, in regulation, finally ran out of gas on their last possession.
Meek made a tackle for a 2-yard loss on a first-down pass to Mike White. Three straight incompletions followed ending the game and sending the entire Hoover team sprinting around the field.
Dahl could tell by looking in the eyes of his teammates that there was no quit in them – ever – throughout the overtimes. “We could have played another five. I’m sure of it.”
Some of the highlights from Hoover’s 40-33 win over Toledo St. John’s in five overtimes Saturday:
Phillip Howard gets loose for 41 yards around left end late in the third, setting up Hoover’s first TD.
Younger brother Erick Howard runs in a 2-point conversion after the first TD. His run through the right side made it 16-8, a one-possession game.
Mike Kohler recovers a St. John’s fumble at his own 42 with 2:41 left in the fourth to halt a Titan drive.
Kevin Dahl stuffs Ryan Ball for no gain on third-and-6 from the Titan 6 with less than a minute left. It’s one of 14 tackles by Dahl, forcing a punt to give the Vikings a last chance to tie it.
Dahl catches a 15-yard pass from Jared Wackerly with 7.2 seconds left, cutting the deficit to 16-14. Wakulchik then catches a 2-point conversion pass to tie the game.
Wackerly fires a 12-yard pass to the left to Wakulchik on a fourth-and-11 from the 21 in the second OT. The two combine for a 4-yard TD pass on the next play, and Wakulchik’s PAT forces a third OT.
Dahl blocks St. John’s attempt at a 30-yard field goal in the fourth OT.
Erick Howard scores from a yard out in the fifth OT and Wakulchik adds the PAT for a 40-33 lead.
Jeff Meek makes his 13th tackle on the next play, nailing receiver Mike White for a 2-yard loss.
Forced to throw, the game ends after three straight Titan incompletions, as Dahl and Meek each knock down a pass.