Hoover 21 - Massillon Perry 0
September 12, 2008
Hoover’s Howard runs wild in 21-0 win over Perry
Steve Doerschuk, Canton Repository
PERRY TWP. Erick Howard showered destruction on the previously unbeaten Perry Panthers, helping Hoover to a 21-0 Federal League football win.
It rained so hard earlier Friday that the 75-mph highway speed demons were squinting to do 40. The rain eased up, but the effect carried onto the slippery field where old rivals launched their league seasons. Both emerged with 3-1 overall records.
Howard had more than 250 yards from scrimmage before the fourth quarter.
He finished with 23 carries for 226 yards and a touchdown to go with two long touchdown catches covering 97 yards.
Afterward, Howard rejoiced with his teammates, sought out his mother, Ruth, and gave her a hug he said he hopes she never forgets.
Early on in the press box, someone said, “Must be nice to have a back like Howard on a wet night.”
Hall of Fame coach Don Hertler Jr. replied, “He’s not too bad on a dry field.”
Current Hoover coach Don Hertler Jr., who had a field-level view, said, “The grass was as long as I’ve seen it, but maybe it kept it from getting muddy. We blocked well, he ran hard, and it was a good night.”
Hoover jumped to a 7-0 lead behind a couple stops by linebacker Mike Frascello and a whole bunch of Howard.
The Panthers missed out on a chance for early momentum after recovering a fumbled punt deep in Hoover territory. After Frascello wrestled down quarterback John Hyde on a fourth-down run, Howard went to work.
On an eight-play touchdown drive, the 5-foot-10, 210-pound junior ran seven times for 83 yards. He quickly found the holes, cut away from defensive help and ran over defenders as needed.
The only thing that stopped him early was the goal line — he scored from the 1.
“Our fullback, Mike Kohler, was out in front blocking like … wow,” Howard said. “Everybody was blocking.
“What a great team win. Nobody picked us to win. Everybody doubts us — but not us.”
After Howard’s early surge, Perry diverted linebacker help to containing Howard’s bursts through the line, and it worked almost until halftime.
A minute and a half before the band show, though, Hyde went for it on fourth-and-2 and was stuffed at the Hoover 39.
On the next play, Howard sprinted out of the backfield, was wide open to catch Brett Tulodzieski’s screen pass in the right flat and turned it into a 61-yard touchdown.
Howard surged up the right sideline before hitting traffic, then saw a cutback opening. He wheeled to the left, where he had only to win a footrace against Panther defensive back Logan Wanner. He won the race to the left corner of the end zone, where he was penalized for showing off the football in Wanner’s direction just before he scored.
A.J. Sarbaugh’s kick made it 14-0 with just under a minute left in the half. That was all Hoover needed.
“We just weren’t clicking,” Perry coach John Miller said. “We weren’t play well up front, and Howard is a great back.”
Hertler, in turn, lauded his line play on both sides of the ball.
Perry, whose offense much of the night focused on keepers by Hyde, failed to solve Hoover’s defense.
With less than a minute left in the third quarter, Howard scored on a 36-yard catch-and-run.
Hoover’s defense poured it on, using back-to-back sacks by Frascello and Tim Hartzell to stick Perry with a fourth-and-30.
Long before that, the Vikings were singing in the rain.