September 1, 2010 —
By Bill Mullaly
The Hudson Tigers picked up their 15th consecutive regular season victory with a convincing 28-6 triumph over the Hillsdale Hornets on Friday night at legendary Thompson Field. The Tiger win on the gridiron was the kickoff to the 2010 season and the Tigers picked up right where they left off from a season ago. Hudson relied on its usual punishing ground attack but this time they showed up with a stingy defense that keyed the win. This had Hudson fans talking about Danny’s D. The Tigers are notorious for running over teams with their wing-T offense that hides the ball and relies a lot on faking and this year they are bringing a tough defense along for the ride. “This was a good effort by our defense,” said defensive coordinator Dan Rogers. “Our boys went to the ball and we held our own against a tough spread offense that really tests you defensively. We had some good, hard hits and for the first game I was happy for the most part but we still have plenty of work to do.”
Hudson held the Hornets to just a measly six points on a meaningless touchdown pass almost 43 minutes into the game as Hillsdale scored with 5:14 left to play. “To hold a team down like Hillsdale with the athletes they have I was quite pleased,” said Rogers.
Well, he should be as the Tigers became accustomed to winning games last year by scores of like 40-26 when they opened with a win over Hillsdale in 2009. This year the Tigers are shooting to score as many points but they want to limit the opposition in the number of points they put on the board. Consider the six for the Hornets a successful start for the Tiger defense in 2010.
Gone but not forgotten
The Tigers were set to take the opening kickoff but that was delayed until just after 7:00 as the “voice of Tiger football” Jim Bills read the legendary poem written by the recently departed Tiger superfan Jim Stephenson before the game. The “Orange Machine” poem brought back many memories for lots of Tiger faithful who remember the glory years from 35 seasons ago. Then there was a moment of silence for big-time Tiger fan Stephenson who passed away suddenly early Monday morning of game week. Stephenson would have been pleased with and proud of the effort of this Tiger team that dedicated the game and the win to him for his many, many years of loyal support for Hudson Tiger football. After remembering and acknowledging Stephenson it was time for some football on a warm, sunny late summer evening.
Game Scoring Summary
Camden McCaskey returned the opening kickoff to the 31-yard line and then Hudson went to work. They used 10 running plays to go 69 yards in a business-like effort. Drew Milligan went in from eight yards out breaking a tackle on the way to the touchdown run. He then kicked the point after and it was quickly 7-0 Hudson with 7:05 left in period one. Milligan scored on a third-and-five situation where he was hit hard a yard short of the first down but instead of going down he stayed up and went into the end zone. Hillsdale then went to work with its spread offense using at times five receivers and they moved the ball down to the Hudson 27-yard line. Tiger Ricky Beach had a key quarterback sack forcing a third-and-seven into a fourth-and-17 and the Hornets were stymied by the Tiger defense. Milligan then went on a 31-yard jaunt on the first play of the second quarter to get the ball just inside the Hornet 10-yard line. Junior halfback James Herron then did the rest going ten yards for the touchdown run with 11:28 left before halftime. The Tiger drive covered 73 yards on eight running plays for a 13-0 lead as the point after failed.
Hudson then got the ball back and appeared to score as Lucas Sparapani went in untouched from 12 yards out but the run was nullified by a questionable holding call setting the Tigers back. Quarterback Jimmy Williams only hit one pass on the night but it was a big one for 12 yards to big tight end Matthew Smith on a third-and-13 situation. Hudson converted the fourth down and later scored as senior fullback Grant Benschoter pounded his way in from three yards out. Now, with 1:29 until intermission the Tigers were comfortably out in front 21-0 as Smith scored the two-point conversion on the Tigers’ power play. Tailback Smith followed a key block from makeshift fullback Meiko McDaniel whom moved from center for the special play that might become a Tiger staple throughout the season.
Hillsdale took the second half kickoff and looked to be headed for a score to make a game of things but again the Tiger defense stiffened up. A key play was an apparent Hornet fumble on a backwards lateral type pass that the Tigers recovered at the Hornet 40-yard line but it was not to be as Hudson was hit with a personal foul penalty of roughing the passer. After the 15-yard mark off the Hornets had a first down at the Tiger 24-yard line poised to strike with a score. Up stepped Danny’s D and a short run followed by three interceptions gave the ball back to Hudson much to the delight of Rogers who has been harping on his troops about toughness and making key defensive stops. Hudson was backed up facing a third-and-ten but used a long count to draw the Hornets off sides for a doable third-and-five. McCaskey then broke off a nice 22-yard run for a first down and the Tigers went on to almost finish a scoring drive. Williams had a nice 16-yard run down to the four-yard line as he sprinted around left end.
Hudson then self-destructed fumbling two snaps to ruin a golden scoring opportunity. Hillsdale took over inside the Tiger 10-yard line and after one first down had to punt and it only went nine yards setting the Tigers up at the Hornet 28-yard line. It did take six plays including a key fourth-and-three conversion by Benschoter good for four yards taking Hudson from the eight to the four-yard line. The next play Milligan scored with 9:37 left in the game for the 28-0 lead as he added the point after.
Hillsdale didn’t want to get shutout and they accomplished that feat by scoring on a short pass from Travis Hodos to do-everything end Dan Vear to make the final score 28-6. The Hornet drive covered 63 yards on 11 plays to ruin Hudson’s hope of blanking the nearby rival Hornets. This was the second win in a row over the Hornets to open a new season.
A look at the numbers
Hudson ran the ball a whopping 57 times for 307 yards for a 5.4 yards per carry average. Hillsdale ran it 25 times for 113 yards. Hodos was eight of 18 passing for 69 yards and no interceptions for the Tigers. Williams was a solid one of two for 12 yards but did toss one pick. Smith had the lone Tiger reception for a dozen yards. Vear led the Hornets with three catches for 34 yards and he ran it three times for 27 yards.
Individually, Milligan ran it 21 times for 128 yards but he never broke the long one fans came to see but that will happen soon enough so just hold on Tiger fans. Benschoter got 63 tough yards inside on 15 carries. McCaskey added 58 yards on ten tries and Williams ran three times for 26 yards. Herron ran once for ten yards, while Dimitri Nealy had three rushes for 11 yards and Sparapani ran it twice gaining four yards. Hillsdale punted three times and Tiger Nathaniel Osborne had one punt for 31 yards. Hudson won the first down battle 18-11 and both teams were about equal in penalties. Hudson was hit for a loss of 37 yards on four flags and Hillsdale went back 35 yards on five yellow hankies. On defense it was junior linebacker Burke Hart leading with eight tackles, while Benschoter tied with top honors with eight also. Junior Joel Varney had seven stops plus the best hard hit of the game. Beach had six tackles, while Alex Leathers had five, as did Osborne. Herron and Smith both had four tackles. Beach and Smith both had two sacks and huge sophomore nose tackle Zach Rieger had one sack.
“We ran the ball well and we had three backs do a nice job,” said a pleased Tiger head coach Chris Luma about the win. “Our offense got us going but we expected that and the line blocked well. It was our defense that played like I thought they could as we had seven boys back with starting experience and they looked very impressive. I thought we would play well on defense and we did against a tough opponent that can do so many things well with that spread offense. The defense was in a couple of tough spots but they made the plays and held Hillsdale out of the end zone. We will take this first win and go from here.”
Up next Morenci
Hudson heads to Motown on Thursday (not Friday) of this week to take on the Bulldogs who will not play like the Bullpups from a season ago. Last year at Thompson Field it was the return of “Tiger Tom” Saylor leading the maroon and white and Hudson romped with a 40-0 win. It won’t be that easy this time as Saylor has his boys playing good ball after suffering a heart-braking 37-30 loss to a good Jonesville team last week. The Comets scored with just 28 seconds left to go from down 30-29 to up 35-30 and they added the two-pointer. Saylor has a squad low in numbers with a team of around 17 kids including hotshot quarterback Brett Bovee who can put it up and will often. Hudson doesn’t care if Morenci has 47 kids as the Tigers want to move to 2-0 on the year and they will. Morenci couldn’t stop the ground game of Jonesville so there is no reason to expect them to slow down the Tiger offense. Saylor will have his boys ready as one would expect and they want to erase the taste of that nasty defeat last year. Also, many of these Bulldawgs played basketball last year and they haven’t forgotten that Hudson knocked them out in district play. Thus, they have plenty of motivation to want to beat the Tigers but it won’t happen. This game will not quite be like last year but the Tigers will win. Prediction: I hate to go against “Tiger Tom” but I have to, as Hudson is just too good. Tigers 41, Bulldawgs 7.