HUDSON — Back in the day, it was often said that a tie "is like kissing your sister."
With the adoption of overtime in 1985, the tie is gone from Ohio high school football. Now there is a winner and a loser.
Unfortunately, losing in overtime might be akin to being punched in the stomach.
Just ask the Hudson football squad after its gut-wrenching 35-28 overtime loss to Strongsville Friday at Hudson Memorial Stadium.
The loss dropped the Explorers to 0-2 on the year while the Mustangs improved to 2-0.
In this overtime, it was more like two punches to the mid-section. With the game tied at 28, Strongsville took possession first and made quick work of it.
The first blow took place on the first play of the extra period. Ironically, it almost turned magical for Hudson.
Strongsville’s offense avoided disaster when a low snap from center was scooped off the turf by quarterback Tyler Wolters. Nearly from his knees. he handed off to running back Garret Clark. The latter raced 20 yards around left end, untouched, for the go-ahead score.
The Explorers tried to answer but on fourth and 1, running back Drew Lightner was stopped short.
"Our kids ... they sure know how to fight," Hudson head coach Jeff Gough said. "We just have to figure out how to finish. This is two weeks in a row that we have been up at halftime. We just haven’t been able to seal the deal."
Despite a 0-2 record, the Explorers have outscored the opposition in three of the four quarters. However, the third quarter has been Hudson’s downfall with a 38-7 deficit there.
This time around, the Mustangs put up two third-quarter touchdowns to regain the lead (28-21) in a seesaw battle.
Hudson had its chances with the defense picking off Wolters, who completed 12-of-21 passes for 127 yards and two scores, three times. Two of those picks gave the Explorers scoring opportunities and the other ended a Strongsville threat. Alas, Hudson failed to score after all three Mustang turnovers.
"It [the defensive effort] was outstanding," Gough said. "Samoid [Reed Jr.] with an interception and early on Chase [Weber] with an interception. We just have to figure out how to seal the deal on drives. We just haven’t been able to do that. We have got to find a way to finish."
On the other hand, the Mustangs took advantage of the Explorers’ only miscue. After a Hudson pass attempt hit the foot of its own player, the Mustangs’ Andrew Keating was there to pick it out of the air. The fluke bounce gave the visitors the first scoring opportunity of the night just twelve yards from pay-dirt.
Three plays later, Wolters connected with a diving Ethan Geiss in the back right corner of the end zone for a 9-yard touchdown.
Will Hryszko booted the first of his five extra points for a 7-0 lead with 7 minutes, 25 seconds left in the first quarter.
The Explorers’ hurry-up offense answered with its slowest drive of the year: 3:16. The 68-yard, 10-play drive ended with Jacob Paltani hitting Luke McLaughlin on a 25-yard fly pattern for a touchdown. Jake Vidmar’s boot tied the score at 7-7.
The rest of the Explorers’ points on this night took place on big gainers. All told, they had four plays of more than 50 yards.
After the Mustangs retook the lead 14-7 on a 13-yard burst up the middle by Clark, Hudson answered back with its first big play.
Five plays into the next possession, Paltani aired it out deep to wideout Colin Pierce. The sophomore gathered in the bomb ahead of the pack and pulled away for a 55-yard score to tie the game at 14.
The string of four straight possessions and four touchdowns ended when Adam Oscarson picked off a deep Wolters’ pass to end the next Mustang possession.
After an exchange of punts, Hudson took its only lead of the evening. On the third play of the possession. Paltani kept the ball up the middle veered left and outraced everyone down the home sideline for a 57-yard touchdown. Hudson led 21-14.
Paltani, a junior first-year starter, ran for 97 yards and one score while throwing for 130 more and two scores.
The second half started well for the Explorers when Weber stepped in front of a Wolters’ pass along the sidelines and returned it some 15 yards to the Strongsville 21-yard line.
The opportunity to take a two-score lead went astray with a high snap and an 18-yard loss on first down. A fourth-down pass fell incomplete to end the threat.
The momentum swung back to the Mustangs.
A nine-play, 68-yard trek followed the turnover on downs. The Mustangs tied the game with Wolters racing around right end for a 12-yard score (21-21).
Strongsville regained the lead with its second touchdown in the decisive third quarter. Wolters’ strike over the middle to a wide-open Josh Klefman was good for a 59-yard touchdown and a 28-21 lead.
The Explorers got their third huge gain of the game when Lightner took the ensuing kickoff back 51 yards. That opportunity soon fizzled out, but on its next touch, Hudson evened the score with its fastest drive of the year: 10 seconds.
That’s how long it took Lightner to fly through a hole in the middle of the line and go the distance for a 67-yard touchdown making the score 28-28 with 10:06 left to play in regulation.
Lightner topped the century mark for the second straight week, rushing for 107 yards on 14 attempts.
The Explorers had a chance to win it in regulation, but a 49-yard field-goal attempt was tipped at the line with 30 seconds to go.
"We have to move forward," Gough said. "We can’t look back. We stress getting one percent better and that’s what we are going to try to do."
Hudson is scheduled to host Lyndhurst Brush this Friday at 7 p.m.