Massillon Jackson 35 - Hoover 28 (2 OT)
Win or lose, Friday’s game brought that kind of reaction.
Shatrich recovered a fumble in the end zone on the final play of the second overtime and Jackson rallied for a 35-28 victory over arch-rival Hoover in an instant classic at North Canton Memorial Stadium.
The pivotal play came on first-and-goal at the 10. Hoover quarterback John Keller found wide receiver Brady Nist over the middle, and Nist bulldozed his way down to the 1, where he was stood up by three Polar Bears, including junior Gianni Capuano. The pile stopped — the play could have been whistled dead when Nist’s forward momentum stopped — and the ball popped loose a few yards into the end zone, where Shatrich fell on it.
“I just saw the ball on the ground and had to jump on it,” Shatrich said. “It was unbelievable.”
As the Jackson players spilled out onto the field, the officials briefly huddled, then called the game over.
“It kind of sums up our season,” Polar Bears coach Tim Budd said. “It looks like maybe they’re going to score and have a chance to go for two and win it, or at least extend the game. Somehow we got the ball out and recover it. The refs didn’t call anything and we ran on the field.
“I guess we won.”
The win gives the Polar Bears a share of their first Federal League title since 2001 — McKinley and Perry also won a share — and might help them avoid a first-round playoff matchup with one of Cleveland’s two Catholic powers.
Joe Childers ran 36 times for 180 yards and three touchdowns, including the game-winner in the second overtime, to lead the Polar Bears (8-2, 5-1), who had already clinched a Division I, Region 1 playoff berth.
It is the first eight-win season for Jackson since 2001.
“It means so much to the Jackson Township community, our school and all our loyal supporters, to get a piece of the Federal League and beat Hoover,” said Budd, whose team rallied from 14-0 and 21-7 deficits. “We let them down last year. We weren’t going to let them down again.”
Jackson quarterback Jaret Pallotta shook off a sore shoulder and completed 9 of 23 passes for 150 yards and two touchdowns.
Zach Beaulieu caught three passes for 71 yards and two touchdowns, and Jake Ryan added two catches for 55 yards.
Luke Reicosky carried 30 times for 144 yards, and Jon Keller added 22 carries for 124 yards and two touchdowns. His second touchdown, a 5-yarder, came with just 2 seconds left as the Vikings drove 78 yards in nine plays after Jackson took a 28-21 lead with 1:02 left.
Neither team scored in the first overtime, with Hoover turning the ball over on downs, and Jackson’s Josh Fehlman missing a 42-yard field goal moments later to set up the final drama.
“I really didn’t have any doubt in my mind that we would wind up on top,” Shatrich said. “But give them credit, 100 percent. They played so hard. I give them props.”
Keller also completed 16 of 31 passes for 232 yards, two touchdowns and an interception for the Vikings (4-6, 2-4), who entered the game on the playoff bubble in Division II, Region 7.
All six of Hoover’s losses this season came by 8 points or fewer.
“I was real proud of our effort tonight,” said Hoover coach Brian Baum, who is 13-17 in three seasons with the Vikings. “It was a disappointing game, but I’m very proud of our guys. We’re 4-6, but we battled in every game we played.
“I’m proud of where the program is headed and the way the guys battled for us. Our seniors set an attitude and a mindset that we can build a program around.”