By Steve Ruman
Valley residents on Saturday evening set their clocks back an hour as daylight savings time came to an end.
The Hubbard High football team set their clocks back to October 4, when it defeated Niles 43-14. In that game, the Eagles scored four touchdowns that went for 41 yards or more.
The Eagles on Saturday duplicated the feat, and in the process prevailed in a wild 39-27 playoff win over the Red Dragons at Bo Rein Stadium.
The victory propels the Eagles (8-3) into a Division III, region 9 semifinal game against Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary. Niles bows out at 8-3.
As has been the case for most of the year, Hubbard was led by Larry Scott. The sophomore sensation rushed for 203 yards on 23 carries. He also scored the game’s first points on a 70-yard interception return for a touchdown.
But Scott saved his biggest play for the fourth quarter. After Hubbard raced out to a 30-6 halftime lead, Niles made a furious comeback. The Red Dragons converted a few big plays of their own, and recovered back-to-back onside kicks to cut their deficit to 30-27 with 8:24 left in the game.
With the momentum clearly in Niles’ favor, Scott responded with a 70-yard kickoff return to paydirt.
Hubbard added a late safety, and Niles was never able to recover its momentum.
“That return really broke Niles’ momentum. It was the difference,” said Hubbard coach Brian Hoffman. “Sometimes Larry does things beyond his years. He made an incredible play there.”
Scott took the line drive kick at his 30, and had time to stop and survey the field before he found a seam and burst up the middle.
“That was all on the blockers,” Scott said. “I was just looking for a seam before I took off. The blockers found their guys. They executed the play very well, and I just followed them downfield. I did it for my team. They block for me all year long.”
Early on, it didn’t appear as though Hubbard would need Scott’s late-game heroics. The Eagles built a 14-0 first quarter lead on Scott’s interception return and a 52-yard pass from Brandon Harb to Darnell Tate.
Hubbard extended its lead to 21-0 on a Scott 3-yard run in the early stages of the second quarter. The Eagles then appeared to put things out of reach when Harb hooked up with Isaiah Scott on a 44-yard touchdown on the final play of the first half.
The touchdown was pulled down by Isaiah Scott after being tipped by several defenders.
“We felt good going into halftime, but we also knew Niles wouldn’t quit,” Hoffman said. “They’re a good team.”