The Eagles shut down Champion's passing attack and will face league rival Girard next.
By TOM WILLIAMS
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
HUBBARD -- As dominant as the Hubbard High football team's rushing game was in piling up 398 yards Friday, the Eagles defenders also were impressive in their eighth straight win.
Despite a tight opening 22 minutes, the Eagles rolled past Champion 43-6 Friday to improve to 8-0.
Senior tailback Anthony Smith rushed for a season-high 241 yards on 30 carries and scored four touchdowns for Hubbard.
"He's just unbelievable and he raises the level of play of everybody around him," Hubbard coach Jeff Bayuk said. "Our offensive line has been doing a good job, but he makes them do even a better job because they know that with a little bit of extra effort, he can get by and score."
On defense, Smith and Jerad Jordan each intercepted Champion quarterback Brian Smith, while Gabe McKee stole two other passes.
"This was a great week for us," Anthony Smith said. "We got to see what a passing team looks like. This game will really help us to prepare for Girard.
"At the beginning, they were completing passes and we were out of position. But at halftime, we readjusted and pretty much went man-up."
Still on top: Ranked second in the state in this week's Associated Press poll of Division III schools and second in the Region 9 computer rankings, the Eagles improved to 5-0 to remain tied for first place with Girard in the Trumbull Athletic Conference.
Next Friday, Girard and Hubbard face off for the TAC crown.
Bayuk said Champion's pass-oriented attack was the perfect tuneup for Girard quarterback Randy Mason.
"They do a lot of things Girard does, formation-wise," Bayuk said. "And that's not something we're used to defending, so that was really good for us tonight."
Champion's Smith completed 13-of-24 passes for 156 yards.
"We saw some things that we can work on and we saw some things that we can't do next week," Bayuk said.
Offensive flurry: The Eagles scored on their first two possessions for a quick 14-0 lead. Anthony Smith capped the first scoring march with a 9-yard run.
After Jordan's pickoff, Smith rambled 31 yards to set up a 4-yard score by Antonio Owens.
However, things got interesting early in the second quarter when Champion's Craig Allen picked off a McKee pass and ran 62 yards to the Hubbard 2.
Brian Smith scored two plays later, but the conversion run failed, keeping Hubbard ahead by eight points.
When the Eagles coughed up the football on the ensuing kickoff, the Golden Flashes had a spark. But the Eagles defenders soon forced a punt to snuff it.
Late in the half, the Golden Flashes stopped the Eagles at the Champion 6.
Golden Flashes coach Greg Lazzari rolled the dice and came up with snake eyes. McKee intercepted Smith's first pass and returned it 41 yards to set Smith's 7-yard score with 21 seconds to go.
"We thought we would take a shot at it," Lazzari said of the gamble. "They are a very good football team. They are a solid team everywhere across. There's more than Anthony Smith that plays for Hubbard."
Finishing it off: The Eagles put the game away by scoring on their first two possessions of the third quarter.
First, Smith broke through the Champion line for a 29-yard score.
He saved his most dazzling score for his final touchdown. Seemingly contained at the 32 after a 4-yard pickup, Smith took a hit, kept his balance, spun around and burst upfield for another touchdown and 35-6 lead.
"My linemen did some great downfield blocking to help me spring some big ones," Smith said.
Smith said the Eagles' turning point came when they snapped a long losing streak against Struthers.
"I knew we were going to be good, but I didn't know we were capable of doing this," Smith said.