Younkins steps up big for Hubbard
He filled in for injured RB Steve Cinicola as the Eagles pulled away, 35-0.
By PETE MOLLICA
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
HUBBARD -- Hubbard High clinched a tie for the Trumbull Athletic Conference championship by totally rolling over previously unbeaten Liberty, 35-0, Friday night.
The Eagles (8-1, 6-0 TAC) scored 20 points in the third quarter to break open a close contest against the Leopards (8-1, 5-1 TAC).
Hubbard has one game remaining next Friday against Brookfield and a win or a Liberty loss would give the Eagles the outright championship.
Leading just 7-0 at the half the Eagles had to play the entire second half without their top running back, Steve Cinicola, who sustained a minor leg injury.
But senior Joel Younkins took over for his teammate and led the Eagles to a big second half rally. The 6-foot-1, 225-pounder rambled for 253 yards on 27 carries and two touchdowns, most of them coming in the final two quarters.
"Joel Younkins has stepped up for us all season long, maybe not with rushing yards, but he's caught a lot of key passes and blocked well, but tonight we told him that he was the man in the second half and he came through like we thought he would," said Hubbard coach Jeff Bayuk.
"Our defense just played a tremendous game tonight, to shut out a team like Liberty is almost unbelievable," Bayuk added.
Younkins lauded his offensive line.
"They did just a tremendous job tonight," Younkins said. "I was ready when they needed me and it was a lot of fun out there tonight."
Not from Liberty's side of the field.
"We just played horribly tonight," said Leopards coach Jeff Whittaker. "I don't know if we did anything right, but give Hubbard credit, they just handled us physically on both sides of the football."
The Eagles didn't throw much, attempting only five passes, but quarterback Marc Kanetsky connected on four of them for 69 yards, including a 5-yard scoring toss to tight end Cody Pitts and a big 54-yard pass to Mike Carnahan that set up Younkins' first touchdown run.
Defensively, the Eagles held a potent Liberty offense to just 107 yards rushing and 20 yards passing and forced three Liberty turnovers. The Eagles lost a pair of fumbles.
Tight first half
Neither team scored in the opening quarter, although the Leopards blew a big opportunity. The Leopards had first and goal at the Hubbard 3, but quarterback Jon Krause fumbled the snap and Harry Tritt recovered for the Eagles at the 5.
Midway in the second period the Leopards gambled on fourth down, didn't make it, and the Eagles responded quickly.
Cinicola made a spectacular 52-yard run, on which he appeared stopped several times, but broke loose to the Liberty 17. Five plays later he slashed over from 3 yards out.
Hubbard took the second half kickoff and quickly scored, led by the Kanetsky-to-Carnahan 54 yard pass over the middle. Two plays later Younkins scored from the 4.
Liberty fumbled the ensuing kickoff and the Eagles recovered at the Leopards' 31. Younkins led the ground attack down to the 5, from where Kanetsky found a wide open Pitts for the score.
Younkins scored his second TD on a 43-yard gallop around the left end and dove the final yard into the end zone for a 27-0 lead.
Liberty had one more scoring opportunity in the final quarter, but again a turnover killed the drive. Krause raced up the middle from the 15, but fumbled the ball into the end zone where the Eagles recovered.
Hubbard added one lost score with its reserves in the contest as Dashaun Liranzo raced 12 yards for the score and Joe Marando capped off the night by running for the two point conversion.