Sophomore George Hill and senior Darnell Tate took over where junior L.J. Scott left off to help Hubbard overcome Howland, 22-14, in an All-American Conference American Division game Friday night.
The unbeaten Eagles (4-0) got big touchdown runs of 62 and 25 yards from Hill and Tate, respectively, to pull Hubbard ahead in the third quarter, 20-14, after trailing at halftime, 14-7.
Hill had 154 yards on 13 carries, while Tate added 33 on four tries.
Scott, who has been bothered by a left-ankle sprain suffered in Week 2, carried 15 times for 53 yards and one TD — all in the first half.
Hoffman’s decision to keep Scott out during the second half was the result of the 6-foot-1, 219-pound runner’s ankle tightened up on him.
“We made the decision to keep playing with George Hill, who got reps during the week and had a whale of a game tonight,” Hoffman said. “He stepped in and didn’t miss a beat. We’re thankful that he had the game he did tonight.”
Hubbard middle linebacker Brandan Rivers iced the game when the senior caught Howland quarterback Ross Griffin scrambling on the Tigers’ last offensive play.
“I saw him coming around and, basically, read the play because I knew they’d run play-action before and would come back to it sooner or later,” Rivers said. “Plus, he had nowhere to go because our coverage was great on that play. So I just zeroed in on him and put him down.”
Rivers caught Griffin at Hubbard’s 17-yard line and the Eagles took over with 1:02 remaining, then ran out the clock.
Howland’s Tre Bryarly added some excitement for the Tigers early when he returned an intercepted pass 50 yards for a touchdown to give the visitors a a 14-0 lead with 3:54 left in the first quarter.
Despite the loss, Howland coach Dominic Menendez was complimentary of Scott, Hill and Tate.
“Those guys can go,” the first-year head coach said. “They’ve got a stable of guys they can give the ball to. They’re a heck of a ball team.”
Of Howland’s failed last threat when the Tigers attempted a play-action pass with a tight end, the coach said: “We tried to make a play and nothing was there, so you can’t fault him,” Menendez said of his QB.
Howland’s drive to the 10 was aided by an 18-yard pass from Griffin to Jerry Kovacich, which caught Hubbard off guard.
“We had some momentum when we got the ball in the second half, but critical mistakes and a couple penalties killed drives, so those are things we’ve been battling all year,” Menendez said. “We’ve got to figure out a way to get rid of them.
“We were moving the ball, but we’ve got to find a way to put it in the end zone. Until we do that, it’s going to keep us from being a good football team. We’ll bounce back and get back at it.”