By Joe Scalzo
With a couple hundred Hubbard fans celebrating outside the locker room and House of Pain’s “Jump Around” blaring inside it, Hubbard High football coach Brian Hoffman took refuge in a small interior office Friday night, decompressing from a victory that was seven years in the making.
“It’s really gratifying,” Hoffman said after his team outlasted visiting Poland 30-24 in overtime, snapping a six-game losing streak to the Bulldogs. “Sometimes in life you have to have some setbacks before you can taste that sweet victory.
“I’ll tell you what — we’ve been taking it [on the chin] a little bit [from Poland], so it feels real good.”
Minutes earlier, Hubbard’s phenom running back, junior L.J. Scott, gave the Eagles that sweet victory on a 2-yard touchdown run to end the first overtime session, a run set up by Hoffman’s decision to forgo a third-down field goal on third-and-5 at the 15.
“My coaches were in my ear a little bit [to go for it],” said Hoffman, who originally sent out kicker Vlassios Pizanias, then reversed course after a Poland timeout. “I figured on third down, with Larry Scott running behind our offensive line, we’d give him one more chance to pop one, like we knew he would.”
Scott picked up seven yards on the carry, then ran for six more on first down to set up his game-winner.
“I needed to get it for my team,” said Scott, who ran all five of Hubbard’s overtime plays. “We’ve been waiting all season for this.”
Poland scored the final 10 points of regulation, tying the game with a minute left when backup quarterback Dom Petrony (who played the whole second half after Jake Wolfe went down with a right thumb injury) lofted a 29-yard TD pass to George Chammas.
But the Bulldogs imploded on their lone overtime possession, losing 13 yards on a first-down holding penalty, then losing another 10 on a sack by Eagles senior Jake Frost.
“What a bad way to start the overtime,” Poland coach Mark Brungard said. “It’s kind of like when Clark Griswold is asked by his son if he brought a saw [in ‘Christmas Vacation’] and you heard that ‘bwaaah.’”
Petrony’s second-down pass got knocked down at the line and was picked off on third-and-33 by Hubbard’s Brennan Wassil, who had two interceptions.
Offensively, Wassil completed 4 of 6 passes for 78 yards and three TDs for Hubbard (8-0, 4-0 All-American Conference, American Division), which can clinch the outright league title with a Week 10 win at Canfield. Scott added 76 yards on 24 carries.
Ross Gould led Poland (7-1, 4-1) with 161 yards on 18 carries with two TDs, including an 84-yarder on the first play of the second half. Petrony was 3 of 9 for 55 yards and also ran for 22 yards.
“It was a championship-type atmosphere and we didn’t take advantage of the moment,” Brungard said. “But no excuses. Hubbard did what they had to do and they deserved to win.”