The chains were a synopsis of the game.
It had no real affect on the final outcome in Hudson’s 27-6 victory over Cuyahoga Falls Friday at the Black Tigers Clifford Stadium but three times during the game the officiating crew called for a measurement.
All three times the chain gang came out the spot favored the visiting Explorers. It was just that kind of night for the Falls.
It was a night where Falls (now 1-6 overall and 1-3 in National Conference play) showed signs that they could compete with Hudson.
They had hopes of ending a now 17-year skid against their Suburban League rivals to the north only to continue to come-up short. Twice the hosts turned the ball over inside the Explorers’ five-yard line thwarting chances to get points on the board.
In fact the Black Tigers went 48 minutes without a point. Despite a 27-0 deficit there was finally something to cheer about for the home crowd on the games’ final snap.
Quarterback Braunavan Arsenault’s scrambling Hail-Mary pass to the end-zone was hauled in by Eric Rosiak for the touchdown with the clock reading all zeros. Even that came with a price as, three minutes earlier, running back Rob Graves went down with an ankle/foot injury.
On the play that Graves was injured, he ripped off a 14-yard run to the Hudson two to set up a potential score. On the very next play the Black Tigers fumbled. It was the kind of night for the hosts.
"This was his (Graves) fourth game in a row with over a hundred yards. I hate to see a guy, who has been working as hard as he has and putting everything into this, go down like that. I can’t even tell you how bad I feel. It’s not fair, it’s not fair," Falls coach Shane Parker said. "I have no idea (how bad the injury is); he has to go for X-rays."
For the Black Tigers getting the points on the final play could be big heading into the final three games.
"This is a group of guys that have a lot of fight in them and they never quit. They give their all until the clock says zero regardless of what the scoreboard says and that shows a lot about their character," Parker noted.
For Hudson the win was its third in the past four weeks after a rough (0-3) start in the non-league portion of its schedule.
The Explorers had to adjust out of the gates as Falls loaded up the box to stop the running of senior Brady Ludewig. With Ludewig held in check in the early going, Hudson turned to its passing game.
The Explorers took the game’s first possession into scoring position primarily through the air but after four straight completions Brennan was picked off. Senior Jordan Williams got the interception inside the home teams’ five-yard line and returned it out to the 44-yard-line.
After a Black Tigers three-and-out Hudson was on the move again. On third and seven Brennan (13-21 for 239 yards; all but ten of which came in the first half) completed a crossing route to sophomore Jacob Paltani over the middle. The speedster did the rest taking the ball 63 yards down the left sideline before being stopped at the one by Daizhaun Brazile. Two plays later Brennan snuck in and with Jake Vidmar’s kick Hudson led 7-0 with 3:44 left in the first quarter.
The Explorers defense put in its part the rest of the first half garnering three interceptions. The team had just two total picks through six games. Linebacker Michael Caniglia ended Falls next touch with his diving pick-off.
Hudson then moved into scoring position with Brennan’s 44-yard bomb to Zach Palmer. The drive stalled but Vidmar booted the first of his two field goals on the night; this one from 31 yards out for a 10-0 lead.
Merrick Widdoes interception on the Black Tigers next pass attempt gave the visitors the ball 55 yards from pay-dirt. It took just three plays to score; all runs by Ludewig. Gains of seven and 41 yards were followed by a seven-yard run and dive to the right pylon. The lead was now 17-0.
Falls made it interesting putting together its first drive of the evening. The penalty aided march (Hudson was flagged ten times for 116 yards for the game, compared to the hosts’ 3-41) reached the Explorers’ six-yard line where on third and goal Hudson’s Dane Geronimo stepped in front of an ill advised scrambling pass to the goal line.
With 1:39 left on the first half clock the Explorers marched down field from their own six-yard line to the Falls 11. There with two-seconds on the clock Vidmar connected on a 27-yard field goal for a 20-0 halftime bulge.
By intermission Hudson already amassed 316 yards in total offense with Brennan at 229 yards passing. The Blue and White ended with 453 yards in total offense, 254 trough the air and 199 on the ground.
When the drive reached the hosts two the stacked I formation group came in and Brennan took another sneak in from two-yards out for a 27-0 advantage.
The Black Tigers continued to threaten taking their next touch into the red-zone only to turn the ball over on downs.
"We had our opportunities tonight and we didn’t take advantage of those; and the scoreboard shows it," Parker said.
Hudson emptied the bench midway through the fourth quarter with Paltani and junior Ryan Neher taking snaps from center. After zero punts through the last eight-plus quarters the Explorers’ Geronimo punted twice in the final six minutes.
Late in the game the Black Tigers put together another push only to fumble at the five-yard line with 2:48 left. Connor Schleper recovered for Hudson.
After the second Hudson punt the Black Tigers had just 33 seconds to get on the scoreboard. Down to three ticks left and 34 yards away, Arsenault was in trouble and scrambling for his life. The junior, who was 19-33 for 174 yards, avoided the sack rolled right and lofted the Hail-Mary. In a crowd Rosiak came down with it and the two-point conversion pass failed for the final 27-6 score.
Falls hosts Nordonia Friday Clifford Stadium.