Columbus Bishop Hartley 24 - Hoover 19
Vikings fall short against two-time defending state champs
Mike Popovich, fridaynightohio.com
NORTH CANTON Hoover’s search for an elusive 2017 signature win will extend to Week 10.
Friday was another example of what it has been like for the Vikings when they played the best of the best this season. Head coach Brian Baum’s team played well enough to win, but just couldn’t cross the threshold.
Two-time defending Division IV state champion Columbus Bishop Hartley held off every challenge from Hoover in a 24-19 victory over the Vikings. The last one came in the final minute in Hawks territory. Hoover drove to the Hartley 28, but ultimately turned the ball over on downs.
Hoover is 4-5 overall and 2-3 in the Federal League. Don’t let that record fool you. The Vikings also posed a threat when they faced McKinley and Perry. Those two teams could end up sharing the league title.
“I’m proud of our guys,” Baum said. “They battled a real good football team, but I’ve said that five times now this year. We have to get across that threshold.
“It hurts. It hurts all of us. We had some opportunities here to capitalize.”
Hoover had a chance after the defense forced a Hartley field goal midway through the fourth quarter that kept it a one-possession game. The Vikings held on to the football for almost six minutes.
Luke Reicosky‘s 6-yard run pushed Hoover to the Hartley 28. A holding call against the Vikings after a 3-yard loss made it second-and-long.
It looked like Hoover would get those yards back on the next play when it appeared receiver Drew Johnson was interfered with. No flags were thrown. A fourth-down pass from John Keller was deflected away, and the Hawks held on for the win.
Baum would not comment specifically on the play involving Johnson.
“We don’t put it on the officials,” he said. “We just have to make plays and do a better job. We know that.”
The Vikings never led, but were within striking distance the entire night.
Keller’s 25-yard touchdown run tied the score 7-7. After Hartley regained the lead, Ben Smith scored on a 10-yard run to get Hoover to 14-13. The conversion failed after a bad snap on the extra-point attempt.
Keller’s 27-yard touchdown pass to Cord Haubert late in the third quarter cut the Hawks’ lead to 21-19. The Vikings were penalized on the 2-point conversion attempt, and the ensuing try was no good.
The Hoover defense, while facing wave after wave of talented Hartley running backs, held its own.
“Our defense really responded, especially in that second half,” Baum said.
Reicosky rushed for 114 yards for the Vikings, who still have a lot to play for next week when they face rival Jackson.
“We have one more opportunity to step up, put ourselves at .500 in the league, back to .500 on the season and a shot at the playoffs,” Baum said. “That’s all we can ask for.”