By Doug Chapin
Premier running backs Ja’les Hughes of Campbell Memorial and Matt Szorady of LaBrae were, as expected, the engines that powered their respective offenses Friday night. But in the end, the team’s quarterbacks stepped up to put the ball in the end zone in the second half.
The result was a 19-14 All-American Conference Blue Division win for LaBrae as Peyton Aldridge hit fullback Zach Miller on the game-winning 5-yard scoring pass with 3:33 left in the game.
Campbell quarterback Brandon Reyes brought the Red Devils back from a 13-0 deficit with two second-half touchdown passes. Alex Sudacov’s conversion kick gave Campbell a 14-13 lead with 7:14 remaining.
LaBrae (4-1, 2-0) coach Bill Bohren was confident in his offense despite being behind on the scoreboard for the first time all night.
“We knew we would probably get good field position from the kickoff, Szorady did a nice job returning it,” Bohren said. “Then they had the 15-yard penalty to set us up. Once we had the field position and I knew we could go down and score.”
Szorady, who finished with 127 yards on 23 carries, ran 26 yards to the Campbell 17 on the first play of the drive, then converted a third-and-5 by gaining 7 yards to the 5. Facing another third-and-5 two plays later, Aldridge faked a handoff and hit Miller in the right flat for the winning score.
For Campbell (3-2, 0-1), it was the second straight tough loss on the road. The Devils lost in overtime last week to Brookfield.
“It was rough during the week, to be honest with you, but we persevered,” Red Devils coach Mickey Siroka said about his squad’s week of practice. “We started out slow tonight and I felt we played better in the second, third and fourth quarters. You’ve got to give LaBrae credit, they came back after we took 14-13 lead, though we helped them with an unfortunate penalty [on the kickoff return]. You can’t shoot yourself in the foot too many times against a well-coached team like LaBrae.”
Hughes, who came into the game averaging about 195 yards per game, pounded out 125 yards in 29 carries.
“It was a chess match, they had to stop Hughes and we had to stop Szorady,” Sikora said. “He’s a great back. It was a good football game and unfortunately we came off on the wrong end.”
“We knew what we had to do to beat Campbell,” Bohren said. “You have to stop Hughes. We know he’s the most dangerous back in our league.”
Szorady started the night by being named LaBrae’s homecoming king, then returned the opening kickoff 38 yards.