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Hoover 27 - Uniontown Lake 7

September 19, 2008

Howard Express rolls past Lake

Jim Thomas, Canton Repository

NORTH CANTON Seniors Nate Dodds and Dom Boyle couldn’t watch Hoover tailback Erick Howard run the football against visiting Lake Friday night.

Dodds, a center at 5-10, 240 pounds, and Boyle, a 6-0, 210-pound guard, knew a freight train named Howard would run up their backs if they were lead-footed in the least.

“Everyone just executes and does their job, we just open the holes for him,” Dodds said. “It’s easy. (Howard) does the rest.”

Dodds and Boyle and the rest of the Vikings offensive line were quick enough. Howard took advantage as the he lugged the ball 43 times for 337 yards — both career highs — and four touchdowns to help Hoover overpower the Blue Streaks 27-7 at Memorial Stadium.

The Vikings, 4-1 overall and 2-0 in the Federal League, punished Lake for 404 yards on the ground and nearly doubled the Blue Streaks in time of possession. They cashed in touchdowns on drives of 99, 91 and 80 yards to wear down Lake.

Defensively, Hoover limited Lake to just one third down conversion in each half to cut off any chance it had to deny Howard the ball.

“It was a total team effort,” Boyle said of a line that included tackles Jake Berkshire and Alex Steenrod and guard Mark Wiley. “(Howard) ran hard, all the line just stayed on their blocks.”

The 5-11, 205-pound Howard was too much for Lake. A week after he gained 226 yards and scored three times, the junior had nearly that many yards at halftime, with 203. Howard scored on a 10-yard run on the game’s first series, but it was his 94-yarder straight up the gut in the second quarter that sucker-punched a tough Lake defense that had Hoover backed up at its 1-yard line.

“I’m not happy with the defense,” Lake head coach Jeff Durbin said after his team lost its third in a row to fall to 2-3, 0-2 in the league. “We gave up 27 points; that’s not good enough, period.

“We have got to play harder, tackle better, we’ve got to execute. I’m not happy with anything we did.”

Still, Lake trailed only 14-0 at half. When it stopped Hoover on its opening possession of the second half, the Streaks put together their only drive of the game, an 8-play, 67-yarder. Sophomore running back Jim Luther got almost half of it on one dazzling play, a 33-yard off-tackle run and cut that Hoover’s lead in half.

For all of five minutes, anyway.

It was Howard left, and right, but quarterback Brett Tulodzieski made the biggest play with a 6-yard completion to Greg Beck on 3rd-and-4 at his own 46. Tulodzieski added a 12-yarder run, and Howard capped the 91-yard drive with a 12-yard run. He ended the scoring, and the 16-play, 80-yard drive, with a 3-yarder late in the fourth.

“I liked the way we regrouped when it was 14-7,” Hoover head coach Don Hertler Jr. said. “We came out and put a drive together and got back up two scores. I thought that was the best thing we did.”

Well, the lines did play well, too, Hertler added.

“We converted 7-of-13 third downs, and 2-of-5 fourth downs, ” he said. “(Lake) was 2-of-8 on third down. Time of possession was 31:00-minutes plus to 16. We sort of Lake’d them tonight, running the tailback.

“When they had guys who could run it, they did. I thought our offensive line played well in the third and fourth quarters.”

“We take pride in running the ball,” Dodds said,  “and we love doing it.”

Source: fridaynightohio.com