Poland bounces back from first loss to beat Hubbard
By John Bassetti
Rebounding from its first loss of 2017 last week was more important than getting revenge for a 17-7 loss to Hubbard in 2016, a season during which Poland went 4-6 under then-first-year coach Ryan Williams and missed the playoffs for the first time in a decade.
“We were just excited to get back on the field again,” Poland’s coach said of Friday night after beating Hubbard, 26-7, to erase some of the pain after last week’s loss to Lakeview.
“In basketball, it’s a couple days and in baseball it’s the next day, but waiting a whole week [in football] to get that taste out of our mouths is hard,” Williams said.
Entering Friday’s game as the fourth-ranked team in Division IV, Region 13, Poland, now 8-1, is poised to make the playoffs.
Dante Romano led the winners with 24 carries for 188 yards rushing, while Hubbard (4-5, 3-3 AAC White Tier) was held to just 32 yards on the ground, primarily due to the very limited play of Tyreq Moorer, who is still nursing an injury from last week’s Struthers game.
“He tried, but he just couldn’t go,” Hubbard coach Brian Hoffman said of Moorer’s few rushes before exiting.
Poland took a 3-0 lead on Mikey Kushner’s 42-yard field goal and bumped its lead to 10-0 after Cole Kosco hit Dante Rouzzo on a 13-yard touchdown pass.
Hubbard got on the board when Davion Daniels found Dominic Hover flashing from left to right across the end zone for a 9-yard TD pass and freshman Chase Powell’s PAT pulled the Eagles within 10-7 at halftime.
Hubbard took the second-half kickoff and was moving the ball with a Lukas Mosora-earned first down at Hubbard’s 41. But a false start and then an interception resulted in Kushner’s 30-yard field goal to widen Poland’s lead to 13-7.
“We felt good at halftime because we played very well in the first half,” Hoffman said. “But coming out in the second half, we made some mistakes and they started to rack up some runs and started gaining momentum. Running the football is what they do well and they showed it. We had some opportunities in the third quarter to close the gap, but we had that miscue with the pick [Lavorini’s INT] and then they converted.”
Without Moorer, Mosora became Hubbard’s main running threat, but the Eagles adapted by using the airlanes.
“They made a concerted effort to take away the running game and we weren’t having a lot of success running the ball, so Davion did a nice job in the first half finding the receivers and throwing the football on time,” Hoffman said. “So we wanted to take advantage of that.”
Daniels was 18 o 29 for 139 yards, but he threw two interceptions, including one by Mike Diaz. Although most of Mosora’s 10 catches were the short variety, the junior kamikaze-style runner picked up 27 yards via passes from Daniels.
Hubbard’s key receivers were Ray Minniti with eight catches for 64 yards, Shannon Slovesko (four for 39) and Hover with two for 21.
Kosco completed five of 14 passes for 80 yards for Poland, which closes its regular season against Canfield. Kosco’s top targets were Diaz and Rouzzo. Diaz’s 44-yard catch set up Rouzzo’s TD.