Hoover 41 - Louisville 14
Hoover rolls as offense continues its surge
Steve Doerschuk – fridaynightohio.com
“Louisville is a huge rivalry,” North Canton quarterback John Keller said after a 41-14 victory Friday. “This is a big win.”
The Leopards still lead 55-35-5 in a rivalry that dates to when the Canton Bulldogs were defending NFL champions. Yet, Hoover’s first win at Louisville in 14 years brought rich satisfaction.
Hoover hopes for its first above-.500 season since going 8-3 in 2012. That would entail more than just a nice highlight or two early in the season and knocking off Jackson in the season finale, as the Vikings did in 2016 while starting off 3-0 and then finishing 5-5.
“It’s a brotherhood now,” said Luke Reicosky, who joined Keller as a main force in generating 443 yards. “Everybody’s playing for each other. There are no ‘me’ players now.”
In Hoover’s 43-12 win over Brush last week, Keller rushed for 130 yards and threw for 134, while Reicosky ran for 133 yards. Against Louisville, Keller ran 13 times for 176 yards and three TDs and went 9-of-10 passing for 113 yards and another score. Reicosky ran 17 times for 159 yards and two TDs.
Louisville went three-and-out on the game’s first series. Hoover went to town.
The Vikings finished an 82-yard drive less than four minutes into the game. Quarterback John Keller, who ran for 130 yards in a 43-12 rout of Brush, got more than half of that on keepers on the first drive, one covering 47 yards up the gut, another 8 yards around the left side for a touchdown.
Hoover’s defense put another three-and-out on the Leopards. Louisville’s defense gave up a second quick touchdown. The running of Keller and Luke Reicosky forced the home team to think about stopping the ground game. Wideout Brady Nist sprinted open down the middle and caught a fingertip deep strike from Keller.
The touchdown pass covered 40 yards. It was 14-0 with less than seven minutes gone.
“John was making great reads in the running game and passing game, and the offensive line was doing the job,” Hoover head coach Brian Baum said. “Luke was running like a hammer. Along with that, our receivers did a good job blocking downfield, which leads to long runs.”
In a big early hole, the Leopards finally got a first down on a 16-yard laser from Jared Mathie to Max Hartline. Mathie engineered four third-down conversions, but the threat evaporated when linebacker Michael Gallagher broke through and chased the QB into a 12-yard sack by defensive end John Wood.
Through two series, Hoover’s offense didn’t have to trouble with a third down. That held true on the 78-yard third series, capped by Reicosky’s 40-yard touchdown run with 8:40 left in the second quarter. Jonah Cline’s point-after kick made it 20-0.
“We had trouble stopping the run in our loss to Brush last week,” Louisville head coach John DeMarco. “We knew we needed to do that tonight, but we couldn’t.”
Louisville flipped momentum, very momentarily.
Mathie’s fourth-and-9 scramble put Louisville in the red zone for the first time. The QB scored on a keeper up the middle from the 10. Hannah Baughman’s kick made it 20-7 with 5:19 left in the half.
In the second quarter, the Leopard offense converted six times on third or fourth down. Hoover finally faced a third down with four minutes left in the half. When that was followed by a 16-yard conversion from Keller to Nist, the momentum change was over.
Reicosky’s spinning 20-yard run to the 4 and then bullish score from a power formation and Ben Smith’s conversion run made it 28-7 just before the band show.
The Vikings received the second-half kickoff and turned loose Reicosky, who surged for 40 yards on the first three plays. Keller’s 1-yard sneak two minutes into the half and another Cline kick made it 35-7.
The 5-foot-7, 237-pound Cline, the kickoff man, then made a ringing hit to stonewall Louisville’s return. Then Evan Bauer nailed Mathie from behind as he threw. Then Cameron Logan made the second of his three sacks on the next play. In short, Hoover set a tone early and maintained it at every turn.
A 56-yard run by Keller set up his own scoring run that made it 41-7. The teams played with a running clock starting with three minutes left in the third quarter.
“It’s a good start,” Baum said. “We’ll try to make it grow the way we want.”