By John Bassetti
As opera performer Jason Budd bellowed out the National Anthem, his voice tested the lowest limits of the sound spectrum and his volume shook the sound system’s foundation, but Hubbard High’s Tyler Karabin stole the show when the senior’s hit jarred East High’s Derrick Tensley on fourth down with less than a minute left.
It preserved Hubbard’s 7-6 victory in a game that changed its complexion for the better after an ugly first half.
The 6-foot-2, 220-pound Karabin left his jersey No. 9 imprint on Tensley who attempted to run up the middle on a fourth-and-2 from Hubbard’s 13.
The vicious hit rocked anyone in the vicinity and brought the Hubbard crowd to its feet after watching East plow through the Eagles’ defense as the game’s final five minutes.
“I shot the A gap [inside gap] and it was wide open,” Karabin said of his entry from his right inside linebacker position.
“I took on the fullback, shed off the block and made the tackle,” Karabin said after penetrating to his right side and the center’s left.
“They were pretty much playing the same play all game, so I figured it was going to be right up the middle,” Karabin said of his hunch.
“It was a nice job reading the play,” Hubbard coach Brian Hoffman said of Karabin’s instinct. “He hit the gap on the run and made a huge play. I told him after the game that he’s one of our leaders on defense and a two-year starter. We needed those guys to respond because our backs were against the wall. He made one heck of a play. We were fortunate to win.”
The win gives the Eagles a 3-0 series record against East since the new East Side school was built.
Hubbard (2-1) took a 7-0 lead in the second quarter on Jeremy Kerola’s 2-yard run and the point-after kick by sophomore Vlassios Pizanias.
East got its six points on Tensley’s 1-yard TD with 4:51 left in the third quarter, but the Panthers, after a procedure penalty, threw an incomplete pass on the conversion attempt.
An ugly first half was punctuated by a lost fumble and interception on East’s part and three lost fumbles on the home team’s part.
Each team lost a fumble in the second half, the last of which was pulled out of the hands of Hubbard quarterback Ashton Owens by East’s Antwain Stuart at the Panthers’ 47-yard line.
That’s when East started a 10-play march to the Eagles’ 13 as time ticked away. D.D. Fleetion, the Panthers’ main running back in East’s resurgent second-half offense, picked up two first downs while Tensley, a 5-9, 170 senior, had the other first down.
Karabin said that the failed two-point conversion attempt gave Hubbard momentum.
“It felt great,” Karabin said. “It gave us momentum and gave us the edge [one-point advantage]. We thought, even if our offense doesn’t score anymore points, our defense would hold them.”
Hoffman said he wasn’t surprised that East (1-2) played Hubbard as close as it did.
“They’re a good football team. They looked good on film and they looked good in person. They’ve got some beef up front and they can sustain drives and run the football well. This was a physical football game and our guys were resilient.”