Massillon Jackson 45 - Hoover 28
October 30, 2015
Pallotta caps career in style as Jackson beats Hoover
Chris Easterling, Massillon Independent
NORTH CANTON Jake Pallotta may not play another football game for Jackson. However, the senior quarterback made sure to make his final game in a Polar Bear uniform a special one.
Pallotta made plays running, throwing and playing defense to help Jackson end its season with a 45-28 win over rival Hoover on Friday night at North Canton Memorial Stadium. It’s the Polar Bears’ first win on the Vikings’ home field since 2001, and the first time they won two in a row over their rivals since 1964-65.
“Oh my goodness, it’s incredible,” Pallotta said.
“Like our coaches said, it’s been since the 1960s that our football program has beaten Hoover in back-to-back years. Especially since some of our coaches are returning Jackson High School alumni, it’s a special moment for all of us. It’s indescribable.”
Indescribable is a good way to sum up Pallotta’s performance, even on a night where Jackson saw its faint playoff hopes dashed by results elsewhere in the state. The Polar Bears finished 5-5.
The senior quarterback ran for 130 yards on 13 carries. He also completed 12 of 21 passes for 212 yards and four touchdowns, including a 66-yard strike to Jack Tirmonia with just under 7:40 remaining to give the Polar Bears the lead for good at 35-28.
“I had great blocking; most of my stuff came from up the middle,” Pallotta said. “Just holes everywhere. Terrific play calls; the coaches saw something at halftime and we called the plays and we got the touchdowns. It’s just one of those nights every single thing worked out.”
On top of all that, his 85-yard interception return for a touchdown essentially sealed the game with 4:10 remaining, giving Jackson a 42-28 lead.
“He’s been our leader all year,” Jackson coach Tim Budd said of Pallotta. “We’ve relied on him. In the passing game, in the running game and when we’ve asked him to play some defense, he’s stepped up.”
Jackson needed Pallotta because Hoover sophomore John Keller matched his Polar Bear counterpart step for step. That’s why the teams never were able to separate themselves by more than one score until Pallotta’s pick-6.
Keller ran the ball 20 times for 165 yards and two touchdowns, which gave Hoover first-half leads of 7-0 and 14-7. He also completed 20 of 31 passes for 150 yards and a 5-yard score to Chase Haubert, which helped Hoover tie the game for the final time at 28-28 on the first play of the fourth quarter.
“We blew some assignments, but he’s a good runner,” Budd said of Keller. “We knew it. He made a lot of plays to keep Hoover right there. It went back-and-forth. It was a (heck) of a game.”
Hoover was its own worst enemy at times. A first quarter fumble set Jackson inside the Viking 25, and Pallotta’ found Nick Shatrich for a 23-yard touchdown to tie the game at 7.
A offsides call on fourth-and-5 with 18 seconds left in the half gave Jackson a first down at the Viking 14. Next play: Pallotta to a diving Tirmonia for a 21-14 lead.
Hoover did overcome that by scoring on the first drive of the second half, tying the game on Luke Reicosky’s 11-yard run and the subsequent point-after kick. After Jackson took a 35-28 lead, multiple penalties on their second fourth quarter possession left a third-and-15 at the Jackson 49.
That’s when Pallotta capped his night with a back-breaking pick-6.