Massillon Perry 18 - Hoover 17
September 12, 2014
Perry wins third in a row, nips Hoover
PERRY TWP. The Perry Panthers evidently are getting the hang of this winning thing.
The Panthers won their third consecutive game — overcoming an early 14-0 deficit — as the Hoover Vikings saw a potential game-winning 30-yard field goal go wide right as time expired, thus preserving an 18-17 high school football victory.
The loss dropped the hard-luck Vikings to 2-3 overall and 0-2 in the Federal League. After going winless last year, Perry is 3-2, 1-0.
Perry’s defense held the Vikings to three points during the final three quarters, which gave the Panthers’ offense time to find its footing against a stingy Hoover defense.
Braxton Berry’s 4-yard touchdown run with 9:52 left to play took Perry from a 17-12 deficit to its first lead of the game at 18-17. The prior play was a clutch 17-yard pass from quarterback Tevion Cleveland to Keishaun Sims that converted a fourth-and-5 for Perry.
In fact, it was the Perry passing game that helped the Panthers dig out of a 14-0 hole after Hoover scored on its first two drives of the game. Cleveland finished 6-of-8 passing for 99 yards and one touchdown.
Perry’s offense, which Hoover limited to 19 total yards and one first down through its first three possessions, finally got going in the most unlikeliest situation after a Keishaun Sims interception late in the second quarter.
Starting at its own 1 with 2:14 on the clock, Perry drove the entire field with one second to spare, as Cleveland found Marcus Brittain on a 3-yard touchdown pass for Perry’s first touchdown. When the extra-point misfired, Hoover led 14-6 at halftime. The drive included five Cleveland completions, the longest being a 46-yard hookup with Aaron Maag that took the ball to Hoover’s 3 with just 6 seconds left in the half. Cleveland hit Brittain on the next play.
“We have to run the ball to beat you, but then we looked like Air Coryell throwing the ball at the end of the first half. How about that?” Perry head coach Keith Wakefield said. “Aaron Maag can really catch the ball, I’ll tell you that. Tevion, when he can see, can really throw the ball. We just have to get him out where he can see.
“That drive was huge before halftime. We don’t win the game if we don’t do that.”
The fact that Hoover had to respect Perry’s passing game in the final two quarters allowed the Panthers’ wing-T offense to find more running room.
“The score at the end of the half was big,” Hoover coach Don Hertler Jr. said. “That gave them life. It opened some things up for them after they hit some passes during that drive.”
That was evident early in the second half, as Perry scored again less than two minutes into the third quarter when Sims broke free for a 65-yard scoring dash. Perry came up short on the two-point conversion, but still was down just 14-12.
Hoover answered with a 14-play drive that resulted in Eric Sarbaugh’s 25-yard field goal that put the Vikings up 17-12 with 3:01 left in the quarter.
Still, after seeing Hoover’s Kyle Braucher score on runs of 17 and 20 yards in the first quarter, just keeping the Vikings out of the end zone was a victory for Perry.
“We just played better defense in the second half,” Wakefield said. “We’re not great defensively, and we struggle because we’re not that athletic.
“It wasn’t me, though, the kids just played harder in the second half. We played better defense in the second half and we ran the ball better, too.”
Hoover got the ball back at its own 36 with 4:45 left. The Vikings kept the ball on the ground mostly, as Braucher, who finished with 184 yards rushing on 34 carries, helped Hoover move the chains gradually deeper into Perry territory. The Vikings reached Perry’s 11 before a penalty and a loss on a running play backed them up to the 18. With 10 seconds left, Braucher ran to Perry’s 14 and Hoover called its last timeout to set up for the field goal.
“We’ve had two weeks of woulda, coulda, shouldas. We just didn’t make enough plays,” Hertler Jr. said. “We’re going to go back, get it figured out and come back next week and try again. I know our kids played hard, but Perry just made a couple more plays in the end.
Sims finished with 120 yards rushing on just nine carries, while Maag had three catches for 72 yards.
While the start wasn’t what Wakefield wants, the fact his team rallied for another win counts for something.
“It was terrible at halftime. They can’t play like that to start a game,” said Wakefield, whose team overcame an 11-point fourth-quarter deficit against Padua last week. “They have to play a whole game in order to win. We did that last week (against Padua), but we managed to finish well each week.
“That was a helluva drive before the half. That changed the game. Football is a game of momentum and after that maybe Hoover’s kids weren’t quite as sure of themselves.”
Even with this tough loss, the Vikings playoff hopes are still very much alive. There are plenty of good teams remaining on Hoover’s schedule that if beaten, can provide an abundance of Harbin points. More than enough to catapult the Vikings into the field of quailfiers (sixteen teams). Will it be easy, NO, but with determination, focus and desire, YES! It all starts with Uniontown Lake this coming week.