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Hoover 38 - Canton McKinley 34

October 16, 2009

Hoover stuns McKinley with 2nd-half flurry, 38-34

Chris Beaven, Canton Repository

NORTH CANTON They wandered around the locker room with dazed expressions on their faces.

They hugged each other. They shouted encouragement. They laughed a lot.

But the Hoover Vikings did it all with the look of high school football players still trying to soak in what they had just done. And it might take this one awhile to soak in — erasing a 32-point halftime deficit Saturday to beat McKinley, 38-34, at North Canton Memorial Stadium.

Coupled with GlenOak’s loss Friday night at Boardman, Hoover (6-2, 4-1) wakes up this morning in a three-way tie with the Golden Eagles and Spartans atop the Federal League.

“I still can’t believe that we won,” senior two-way lineman Mark Wiley said before pausing to receive a hug and then let out an exhausted cough, a reminder that more than 30 Vikings were sick throughout the week. “I’m not sure how we did that.”

“What did we do?” Howard asked rhetorically as Gross came over to congratulate him. “How did we do that?”

Gross slapped Howard’s broad shoulders and just smiled.

“Thirty-four to two,” Howard said, referring to McKinley’s halftime lead. “We just didn’t give up. Wow. Wow. … I’m in shock.”

He’s not alone.

Hoover head coach Don Hertler Jr. struggled to find the right words.

“Our guys just played their guts out and didn’t quit,” he finally said. “They believed in each other.”

Sounds simple.

But it might be the best way to explain it. Hoover went from melting down in a nightmarish first half with more turnovers (four) than points to dominating during a near perfect second half. The Vikings outgained the Bulldogs, 327-39, during the final two quarters.

“Once the momentum changed, we made the plays to win the game,” Hertler said.

An onside kick by Hoover to open the second half started the comeback. Senior Roman Musisca recovered it at the McKinley 46. Two plays later, Howard bolted through the right side for the first of his three touchdowns, a 42-yarder.

“We scored that touchdown right away, and we knew just had to keep plugging away,” Wiley said.

Howard was on his way to a 144-yard third quarter as he played with a heavy wrap around his left hand to protect a hand injury suffered early on.

“Our line came out in the second half just kicked their butts,” said Howard, who finished with 279 yards on 34 carries..

When Hoover got the ball back, Howard ripped off runs of 24 and 36 yards during an 80-yard TD drive. Jordan Witt ended it with an 11-yard TD run through the middle. It was 34-16 with 5 1/2 minutes left in the third.

“We just wanted to get two scores in the third and make it a game,” Hertler said. “If you can do that, you never know.”

Hoover got within 10 points on the second play of the fourth quarter. Howard scored on a 1-yard run, giving him the county’s career scoring record. When A.J. Sarbaugh caught a 2-point conversion pass from Brett Tulodzieski, Hoover’s deficit was 34-24.

Hoover’s defense kept up the pressure with a relentless effort. The Vikings finished with seven sacks and five tackles for loss.

“We just brought everybody, threw it all at them,” said Wiley, who had two of the sacks.

Hoover closed to 34-31 when Tulodzieski connected with Witt for a 74-yard TD pass with 5:02 left in the game. He faked a hand-off to Witt, the fullback on the play. Witt ran through the line and was wide open downfield.

Another big pass play, Tulodzieski to Ben Gardner for 18 yards, helped Hoover convert a key third-and-three on its winning drive two minutes later. Howard plowed into the end zone for a 4-yard score with 1:29 left. Sarbaugh’s PAT kick made it 38-34.

McKinley drove deep into Hoover territory on the ensuing possession before a penalty derailed the drive. It ended with Hoover’s J.C. Everett knocking down a desperation pass at the goal line.

“Without question, it’s the most difficult thing I’ve been involved with in my coaching career,” McKinley head coach Ron Johnson said of the loss.

His Bulldogs (4-4, 3-3) could do no wrong in the first half.

Bryce Wilder gained 116 all-purpose yards in the half, highlighted by a 48-yard punt return for a TD. Kyle Ohradzansky threw TD passes to Matt Ogletree and Angelo Powell. And McKinley was in complete control when three Hoover turnovers in the span of six snaps late in the half turned a 14-2 lead into a 34-2 rout.

Except it wasn’t a rout. Hoover had something else in mind.

“That’s called never dying,” Howard said. “You go down swinging.”

Source: fridaynightohio.com