Hudson football stays unbeaten despite passing attack from Barberton

Rob Barrone
Hudson running back Drew Lighner escapes a tackle during the Explorers 47-22 home win over Barberton Sept. 11

It wasn’t any easy night Sept. 11 for the Hudson defense at Hudson Memorial Stadium.

For the second straight week, the Explorer football squad’s secondary came under relentless attack.

The final offensive stats turned in by visiting Barberton quarterback Chanden Lee were staggering; 50 passes attempted with 33 completions and 347 yards.

Despite allowing over 300 yards through the air, the Hudson (3-0) secondary was in many ways the hero of the 47-22 victory over Barberton (0-3).

The Magics, basically, dinked and dunked short receptions to garner 26 first downs (one more than the Hudson offense). However when things got tough near the goal line, the Explorers’ defense made the plays.

When they needed to make plays, the varsity secondary came through.

Hudson quarterback Jacob Paltani escapes a tackle during the Explorers' home win over Barberton Sept. 11.

“They ran the ball like 50 times last week. We were tasked with trying to stop the I-backfield we saw on film,” Hudson coach Jeff Gough said. “Our front seven did a great job early on (stopping the run). Then it turned into something we didn’t practice a whole lot. I thought (defensive backs) Jackson Thomas, Ryan Suydam, Adam Oscarson, Gavin Wervey, John Innamorato and Ryan Evans did a great job to play at that level.”

The Hudson defense’s best stand came late in the third quarter.

Barberton had just scored, having gone to a three-back backfield. That drive took twelve plays, all on the ground. Cam Macon capped the effort from two yards picking up a fumbled snap and going in. He also ran in the two-point conversion to cut a big Hudson lead to 34-15.

The Magics then recovered the ensuing onside kick and the defense stayed on the field.

Three plays later, Oscarson made a touchdown saving hit on a 37-yard reception by Derrick Vaughn down the Hudson sideline. Vaughn ended with 12 catches for 130 yards and the game’s final touchdown.

Oscarson was banged up on the play, but it would be a big stop at the three. Barberton went into reverse from there and when Lee was sacked by Jacob Clary for an 18-yard loss, the visitors faced a fourth and goal from the 25-yard line.

After two Hudson penalties made it fourth and goal from the six. Lee’s second chance pass was knocked down in the back of the end zone.

“We game planned for the run. We stooped their run so they transitioned to the pass and we adjusted very well to it,” Evans. “It was great team effort on defense; the D-line was pressuring the quarterback and the D-Bs did a good job of containing everyone and making plays in the back half.”

Evans had another smart defensive play in the fourth quarter batting down a long fourth-down pass.

“We were able to adjust once they started throwing it. Everyone was running to the ball when the ball was in the air; everyone was going to it. It was a great way to keep them out of the end-zone. The defense played great tonight and that momentum transferred to the offense …it was just a great overall team win,” Oscarson said.

It wasn’t all defense as the 47 Hudson points might show.

Hudson tallied on its first touches thanks to the defense and a Jonathan Heisa fumble recovery on the games’ first play from scrimmage.

Five plays later, Drew Lightner scored the first of his three rushing touchdowns; capping the 34-yard trek with a four-yard touchdown. Jake Vidmar tacked on the extra point for a 7-0 lead just 95 seconds into the the game..

The lead ballooned to 13-0 after a three-and-out by the visitors.

Hudson marched 82 yards on the subsequent possession. Quarterback Jacob Paltani, who completed eight passes in a row to start the game, tossed one to the end-zone and Luke McLaughlin.

McLaughlin went up high with a defender draped all over him and came down with the touchdown and a 13-0 lead

After Lee connected with Kaige Lowe for a 43-yard score, Barberton was back in the game at 13-7.

Hudson answered back. A 38-yard run by Paltani sparked a 68-yard drive that ended with Lightner’s second touchdown. This time a two-yard run for a 20-7 lead.

Paltani, who ended 13-16 passing for 199 yards to go along with 124 yards rushing on 12 carries, reached the 2,000-yard plateau in both career rushing (2,045) and passing (2,004) on this night.

The Magics threatened late in the first half but a 43-yard field goal attempt was blocked by Colin Pierce diving fro the right edge.

Hudson took full control early in the second half with two long scores. Paltani galloped 57 yards on a run up the middle on the second play of the half.

Paltani then hit Pierce over the middle and the latter did the rest racing 55 yards untouched for a 34-7 advantage.

The Explorers closed out Barberton with two fourth quarter scores.

Lightner finished his night (16 carries for 84 yards) with a three-yard touchdown run. Evans then made the best of his lone carry taking it in from four yards out for a 47-15 lead.

The back-up defenders made Barberton work but Lee and Vaughn hooked up for a 22-yard touchdown with 50 seconds to play.

It was a landmark victory for Hudson as it picked up win number 500 against 398 losses and 25 ties.

The Explores travel to Wadsworth Sept. 18 for a huge re-match of last year’s incredible 37-35 walk-off win by Hudson.