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For most of the first half, Nordonia football had Hudson right where it wanted it when 2015 Division II state semifinalists visited Boliantz Stadium Sept. 16
The Knights took an early 7-0 lead and seemed in control until momentum shifted quickly early in the second half. Hudson, which tied the game at 7-7 with 29 seconds left in the first half, took n interception to the house just 48 ticks into the second half and after another turnover by the hosts’ scored again just 19 seconds later.
In all the Explorers scored 21 points in a span of just 1:36 of game clock and then cruised in to the 34-7 victory.
Nordonia dropped to 2-2, 0-1 in the Suburban League National Division opener for both schools.
“The kids played hard. Our defensive coaches put together one heck of a game plan. We were in a great spot all the way until deep into that second quarter,” Knights coach Jeff Fox said. “Give Hudson credit they are a good team and found a way to tack on a couple (scores). Our offense turned the ball over and did some uncharacteristic things — with a good team like that they took advantage.”
The turning point of the game was the pick-six. Hudson seemingly had the momentum after quarterback Jackson Parker’s six-yard touchdown run with 29 seconds to play in the first half tied the game at 7-7, but the Knights did move the ball to the visitors’ 43 before time expired and were receiving the second half kickoff.
Three plays into the third quarter everything turned around. Sophomore quarterback Robby Levak, who had a nice night with a 13-26, 126 yard performance, was picked off deep in his own territory.
Hudson linebacker Alex Beck took in the errant pass near the right hash mark and quickly decided the best route to the end-zone was across the field to his left. The senior found pay-dirt taking it back 27 yards across the grain for a 14-7 Explorers lead with 11:12 showing on the third period clock.
The ensuing kickoff the kick was muffed and junior defensive back Jacob Hall pounced on the loose pigskin at the hosts’ 21-yard line for back-to-back turnovers created by the Explorers.
The Explorers got their third touchdown in 96 seconds when junior running back Kevin Callahan streaked through a hole in the middle and dove into the end zone for a 21-yard touchdown.
The two quick touchdowns didn’t completely deflate the Knights. On their next possession the host marched 53 yards in eleven plays. The drive ran out of gas at the Hudson 28 and a 45-yard field goal try by Trey Crockett was short.
Nordonia’s next drive was an 11-play march, but it ended on downs when Levak was sacked at his own 39 on fourth and seven.
Hudson upped its lead to 28-7 with 8:17 left to play) when running back Dawson Wervey raced 46 yards up the gut.
Eighty seconds later it was 34-7. Stephen Bianconi’s diving interception gave Hudson the ball at the Knights’ 32 and on the next play junior quarterback Colt Pallay threw deep to a wide-open Greg Mailey for the 32-yard score. The lead stayed at 34-7 when Nordonia’s Elijah Coleman blocked the extra point.
Nordonia had taken the early lead on its second possession of the game.
Parker’s deep pass was picked off by the hosts’ Brendan O’Donnell and returned 23 yards to the Hudson 46 at the mid-way point of the first quarter.
On fourth and nine Fox’s gamble to go for it paid off big. Levak hooked up with junior Tye Evans on a pass over the middle for the first down. The big wide receiver did the rest, breaking tackles and taking the ball to the right pylon for a 45-yard score and the 7-0 lead with 4:28 left the first quarter.
It was offense by committee again for the Explorers, who played their first three quarterbacks.
Parker started again and was 3-7 passing for 20 yards and rushed for 38 more, Pallay (a junior) was 5-6 for 64 yards and sophomore William Wallace took a number of snaps going 1-2 for 21 yards and ran for 41 on four tries.
At running back Callahan (10 carries on 59 yards) and Wervey (11 carries for 116 yards) led Hudson to a season-high 248 yards rushing (37 carries).
The Knights’ running game could never quite get untracked.
Anthony Perrine was limited to 48 yards on 14 carries as the hosts ended with 133 yards on the ground.
Perrine hobbled off early in the second quarter but returned to get seven more touches (just 12 yards) and did not return to the line-up after the missed field goal try mid-way through the third.
“It’s a knee. I don’t know [the extent of the injury], but we’ll find out tomorrow morning,” Fox noted.
Things won’t get any easier in the next two weeks for the Knights who travel to unbeaten Stow-Munroe Falls Sept. 23 at 7 p.m.
“We have Stow next week. It does not get any easier. Our kids got to look inside. I don’t think we quit tonight but we have to find a way to stop the bleeding,” Fox said. “You gotta play almost perfect when you play teams that are this good. We’ll get back to the drawing board, search for solutions and keep playing hard.”