Louisville 33 - Hoover 20
September 4, 2015
Louisville’s Young shakes off pair of fumbles to catch winning TD against Hoover
Josh Weir, fridaynightohio.com
Rahzul Young could have felt like the loneliest kid in the world.
Two straight fumbles, the second which fumbled away a Louisville lead in the fourth quarter Friday night, have a way of dividing a team at times. Fingers get pointed. Blame is thrown around.
But a funny thing happened in the host Leopards’ 33-20 high school football win against Hoover.
“When I fumbled the second time, usually you get yelled at,” said Young, a senior running back in his first year at Louisville after transferring from Timken. “My teammates were picking me up. It’s family. I play for them. They play for me.”
Young’s touchdown catch on a fourth-down, broken play turned out to be game-winner, highlighting a wild fourth quarter in the 93rd edition of this rivalry.
The 220-pound back ran for 110 yards, including a first-quarter touchdown. But his perseverance on this night will be what is remembered.
With the Leopards (2-0) up 20-13, Louisville’s Brock Haren intercepted a pass and returned it to midfield early in the fourth quarter. Young put the ball on the ground on the very next play to give it back to the Vikings (1-1).
The Leopards defense rose to the challenge as Daichi Castles dropped a Hoover runner for no gain on fourth-and-3.
Again the Leopards gave the ball to Young. Again he gave it away.
Hoover tied the game 20-20 on a fourth-and-goal play from the 6. Alex Nicholson nearly dropped a pass from Cam Mayle but trapped it against his leg for the touchdown with 5:55 left.
“I whispered in Coach’s ear, ‘I owe you,’ ” Young said about John DeMarco. “He said, ‘I know you can do it.’ ”
The Leopards went right back to him. After a first down on two throws, Young responded with consecutive runs of 11 and 26 yards to put the Leopards on Hoover’s 10-yard line.
So Coach DeMarco, why go back to the kid who fumbled twice?
“Who else are we going to give it to? He’s our back,” he said. “You don’t get rid of him just because things aren’t going well. It’s like your kids. Just because they do something wrong, you don’t banish them.”
The Leopards eventually faced fourth-and-goal from the 7. They went for it, rolling senior quarterback Jake Adams to his left. But with pressure in his face, he scrambled back the other way, where Young found himself alone in the flats.
“Usually I block on that play, but I saw Jake in trouble, so I flared out,” Young said. “We made eye contact and he gave it to me. Conner Bast had the perfect seal on his man and I just walked into the end zone.”
Louisville led 26-20 after muffing the extra-point opportunity with 3:01 left.
“It says a lot for his character for him to battle back like that,” Hoover head coach Brian Baum said about Young. “That was good for him, not so good for us.”
Louisville’s Brody Hahn had a nice pass break-up to end Hoover’s ensuing possession. He later sealed the game by picking off a desperation pass and returning it 25 yards for a touchdown.
The Leopards outgained the Vikings 391 yards to 282, but had to sweat this night out because of five fumbles, four of which were lost.
Adams was strong at quarterback for the second straight week. He completed 20 of 27 passes for 290 yards and three touchdowns. Tyler Adams (no relation) caught nine passes for 147 yards, including a 58-yard touchdown in the first half. Bast added a 22-yard touchdown reception in the third quarter.
“We just felt like we didn’t execute,” DeMarco said. “We felt like we played and moved the ball, but we didn’t execute our offense like we needed to.
“You’re very fortunate to turn the ball over four times and you have an opportunity to win the game. Our defense gave us that by shutting them down several times.”
Louisville linebackers Frank Falcone and Kyle Ashcraft, along with end Cade Stertzbach, led a gutsy effort by a Leopards defense that seemed to be on the field for the entire second half.
Hoover, which trailed 20-10 midway through the third quarter, nearly rallied to a win for the second straight week. But five turnovers helped ruin any chance of that.
“The effort was there, the heart was there,” Baum said. “We’re learning. There were a couple of key mistakes on both sides of the football. We’ll be a better football team for it.”
Nicholson caught nine passes for 131 yards and two touchdowns — one each from John Keller and Mayle. Eric Sarbaugh added six catches for 62 yards while kicking field goals of 27 and 34 yards.