For its first home game of the year Streetsboro faced a non-conference school: The Huron Tigers. It was a huge night for the Streetsboro school district, and the Streetsboro community as a whole. The school put on a huge tailgating display for anybody who wanted to join, providing food trucks, a face painting station, and even a hey bale ride for the kids. It was truly an exciting night, and it was easy to see that the Streetsboro fans were pumped for their opener. Streetsboro entered the game 1-1, losing their previous game to Crestwood, while Huron entered the game 0-2 and desperate for a win. So with that, let’s see what happened during this showdown.
Both teams started off slowly, with not many noteworthy plays. The only score of the quarter came on a 1-yard rushing touchdown by Huron’s Senior RB Jake Ortman (7 Att 32 Yds 2 TDs). Although the score would remain 6-0 because Huron’s kicker, Eric Martin, just didn’t have it in him that night. Martin wound up kicking four kickoffs out of bounds, at one point kicking two in a row out of bounds, and missed that extra point. If I could offer one piece of advice to the young man it would be this, improve your accuracy. Martin has a good amount of power in his leg. As a matter of fact Martin would go on to make two field goals, 32 and 41 yards respectively. So whether it was just nerves that got to Martin, or just a lack of work on his accuracy, he needs to put in a little time on ball placement. Back to the game. Streetsboro just could not get going in the first half. When it comes to the first quarter, they tried several screen passes on their first drive that worked with mild success. Streetsboro would have a decent drive going, but penalties, penalties, and more penalties got in the way. The team looked lost to start. Many players did not know where to line up, plays came in late, there was a lot of poor communication. There was not really one person to blame, it was more of a whole team effort that lead to a poor first half performance.
Streetsboro was driving at the end of the first quarter, and into the second quarter. Fans were starting to gain some of that energy back as the Rockets set up on the 15 yard line. Streetsboro’s Junior QB Will Butler, who had a good game on the whole (23-31 213 2 TDs, 16 Att 59 Yds 1 TD 1 Fum), scrambled for a 6-yard gain to his right before being hit by Huron LB Brandon Dowell (1 Tck 1 FF 1 FR). Dowell not only hit him hard enough to dislodge the ball, but also scooped it up and took it 51-yards to the Rockets 40 yard line. Rocket fans were crushed, all their momentum and life had just been sucked out of them. Huron wound up taking that opportunity and turning it into a score. Ortman powered it in for his second touchdown of the game with 9:27 left in the half. After another stalled Streetsboro drive Huron was able to get into field goal position, where Martin nailed a 32-yard field goal to go up 16-0 with 4:34. To add insult to injury Huron went for an onside kick just after the score, and recovered! Now Streetsboro was really in trouble! All energy was gone, and many fans were starting to get upset. Those bad feelings got downright ugly once Streetsboro gave up a 31-yard touchdown run to Junior Huron RB Lucas Critelli (15 Att 115 Yds 1 TD, 3 Cth 30 Yds) with 2:12 left in the second. Critelli took a sweep to the right and just flat out beat all the Rocket defenders, whether it was over-powering them or running faster. By the time the Rockets offense got the ball back there was 2:00 left in the half, and fans were not expecting much. The Rockets were down 23-0 and all hope seemed lost, but that was not the thinking of the team itself. The Rockets drove the ball down field, using a lot of play action roll-outs and were able to get into the Tigers red zone with just over a minute left. Coach Arlesic (Streetsboro) put the ball in the hands of his QB and he delivered on a beautiful fade to the left corner of the end zone, finding Senior slot WR Dakari Carter (9 Cth 101 Yds 2 TDs) for the Rockets first score with 58 seconds left in the half. Coach Arlesic talked about that vitally important score after the game, saying,
“I thought the momentum changed when we got our first touchdown. When we got it we were able to sit back, take a breath, and say ‘you know what, we got this’.” Coach also commented on the teams mistake and penalties of the first half, saying “We (the coaching staff) didn’t expect that at all. We wanted to come out here and use our speed, but give Huron credit, they played better than we did. We had a turnover, and gave up the onside kick, which gave them 14 points, and really wound up making the difference at half time.” It was clear that Streetsboro had a lot of work to do in the second half, but they proved they were up to the task.
The second half did not start out pretty for the Rockets by any means, it was more of the same. Huron got the ball, and started on their own 30 yard line. Huron called a QB read, and the ball wound up in the hands of Critelli who took it 70-yards to the house on the first offensive play of the half, making the score 30-8 real quick. Streetsboro did not take long to respond though. On the ensuing kickoff WR Keshaun Jones (9 Cth 55 Yds) the kick 80-yards for the touchdown. In an instant life was back in the Streetsboro fans as Jones broke the first tackle, second, third, fourth, and finally just out sprinted everyone and scored the touchdown. But, as excited as the Rockets were, they knew they had a long way to go yet. The Rockets wound up missing the 2-point conversion, making the score 30-6 Tigers. The Rockets defense had life, and completely shut down anything Huron tried to do, especially through the air. Streetsboro crept even closer when, off a fumbled snap by Huron’s punter which resulted in red zone field position for the Rockets, Rocket QB Butler powered it in with 58 seconds. After Butler connected with Jones on a 2-point conversion the score was 30-22 with one quarter of action to go.
Both teams battled hard in the fourth quarter. Both defenses shut down the opposing offenses. Streetsboro fans were on the edge of their cool bleacher seats, some barely being able to look when their defenses were on the field. It wasn’t until there was just 2:00 left in the whole game before Streetsboro was able to get a solid drive going. The Rockets faught, scratched, and clawed their way into the Tigers red zone. Everyone, including myself, was on their feet as the Rockets drive stalled on the four yard line. The intensity could not have been higher as the Rockets and Tigers lined up against each other on a 4th and goal from the 4 with just 1:00. Streetsboro had no timeouts, and a failure to get into the endzone would surely result in doom. Butler and Junior powerhouse back Kendal Russell (9 Att 67 Yds 1 TD) waited in a shot gun formation for the snap. Butler took the snap and handed off to Russell who was stopped in the backfield by a defender…but he would not be denied by just one Tiger. He bowled over the poor young man and headed for the end zone, where he was met by TWO Tiger defenders this time…but Russell was not going to be denied by just two Tigers. Russell obliterated the two defenders and scored, making the game 30-28. The Rockets gave it to Russell again for the 2-point conversion, and he did what he does best, slamming it up the middle to even the score at 30, sending it into overtime.
In overtime Huron got the ball first on the 20 yard line. They failed to even get a first down and had to settle for a 41-yard field goal by Martin. Now it was the Rockets turn, and a touchdown would win it. The Rockets drove the ball down to the 4 yard line, where the whole crowd expected Russell to run over a few more defenders. Instead Butler took the snap and nailed Dakari Carter on a hard slant to win the game. It was a good finish to one of the most exciting games I’ve covered in my short career. After the game Coach Arlesic gave a few comments about his teams resilient effort, saying,
“We kept believing, no one quit on our side line, and that’s a sign of a great team. We didn’t point fingers after the Crestwood loss. We owned it, and came out here as a team, and never gave up.”