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Hoover 14 - Massillon Washington 7

Division 1 Regional Quarterfinal

November 1, 2008

Hoover beats Massillon for first time in school history

Jim Thomas, fridaynightohio.com

NORTH CANTON The regional quarterfinal playoff game between the Massillon and Hoover high school football teams was bigger than the Tigers’ J. T. Turner and the Vikings’ Erick Howard, two of the best running backs in Ohio.

“No Hoover team had ever beat Massillon,” Howard said of North Canton’s 0-3 playoff mark.

“We knew in our hearts this was for all our teams…the 2005 team, the ’02 team, the ’01 team.”

Howard took it upon himself to make it bigger than any other game in recent memory.

The junior tailback carried the ball a massive 39 carries for 200 yards and scored both of his team’s touchdowns in the Vikings’ 14-7 defensive triumph at North Canton Memorial Stadium.

And, he made it personal with Turner, the Tigers’ star headed to Michigan. Howard broke Turner and Massillon’s heart with a 49-yard touchdown on a draw with 10:17 left to play, breaking a couple tackles near the line and then bulling through Turner’s high tackle at the Massillon 10 for the score.

“He made a quote in the paper that I’m a good back and he’s a good back, and we’ll find each other,” Howard said of Turner, who scored the Tigers’ touchdown on a 1-yard run in the first quarter. “I was like, ‘I’m a man of my word and if we find each other I’ll make sure he lost.’

“And it happened.”

Top-seeded Hoover (10-1) will play Twinsburg in a regional semifinal next Saturday at a site to be determined today.

Vikings coach Don Hertler Jr. and Tigers coach Jason Hall both said the Hoover defense and a late first-half screen pass to Howard were the differences in the outcome.

Down 7-0 late in the second quarter, Hoover quarterback Brett Tulodzieski floated a little middle screen to Howard, a third-and-16 call out of desperation from his 40. Howard caught it near the line, made two moves and dashed to the Massillon 1. He scored a play later to knot the score.

“We just put that in two days ago,” Hertler said. “They blew up our (slip) screen so we just threw it to a different guy. That middle screen really sparked us.”

“At the end of the first half they hit us with a middle screen,” said Hall, whose team finished 6-5. “But the story is, our offense didn’t get going in the second half. Our defense was on the field way too much.

“The offense fizzled in the second half … you have to play four quarters of football in the playoffs, especially against a good team like North Canton.”

Turner came into the game with 1,333 yards. He left with just 61 more, on 15 carries.

Hoover’s defense pressured quarterback Robert Partridge all game with blitzes by linebackers Tim Hartzell and Jordan Witt, and defensive backs Jake Mann and Jeff Meek.

Partridge completed 9-of-23 passes but for just 57 yards as he had no time to throw.

“Our defense, I don’t think Massillon had a first down in the second half,” Hertler said.

“Five three-and-outs. Our defense won us the game.”

Massillon’s defense was outstanding except for the two big Howard plays. Safety Bo Grunder had three tackles for loss on Howard in the first half. Outside linebacker Jamison Heath-Gates and J. B. Price combined for five third-down stops then as well.

But the Tigers couldn’t sustain the momentum after Howard’s middle screen dash.

“Howard’s a good football player…but we didn’t tackle him,” said Hall. “Two big plays by him, momentum plays. He’s obviously a big part of their program.”

That now includes the 2001, 2002 and 2005 Hoover teams.

Source: fridaynightohio.com