Tigers win LCAA championship

October 13, 2010 —

By Bill Mullaly

The Hudson Tigers won their second consecutive outright LCAA football championship on Friday night. The Tigers beat the Ida Bluestreaks 43-20 in the annual homecoming contest. The #1 ranked Tigers moved to 7-0. “To win the LCAA with the size of school we have the and small number of players we have makes the accomplishment all the more impressive,” said Tiger head coach Chris Luma. “We have just 23 kids and we play other schools with larger squads but the main thing is we won all the league games for the second year in a row.”

Hudson sailed to its 21st straight regular season win. The Tigers allowed just one defensive score and that came in the fourth quarter after the game was decided. “We beat a good team that had a lot of weapons but our defense played very well. This was a huge win against an Ida team that came ready to play, especially on defense. The 6-3 front they used made us do some things we normally don’t do but we responded well. We hit some key passes that really helped us out on offense and it changed the game in our favor.”

Game Scoring Summary

Hudson recovered the game’s opening onside kick by Ida at Hudson’s own 49-yard line as Burke Hart fell on the ball. Quickly, it was all-state halfback Drew Milligan taking a counter trap play around the right end and he was gone 51 yards to paydirt and a lead of 7-0 after his successful point after kick. With just 13 seconds gone the Tigers were on their way to another win. Ida punted the ball away on its first possession and Hudson took over at its own six-yard line after they let the Bluestreak punt roll dead inside the ten-yard line. On the first play the Tigers fumbled the snap and Ida picked up the elusive pigskin at the six-yard line and they walked it in untouched for a stunning score with 9:00 left in period one. The kick failed as Hart and Matt Smith both combined to block it and it was 7-6 Hudson.

The Tigers then used a fake punt on a well-executed play as Camden McCaskey hit Milligan on a gain of 19 yards and a first down on a fourth and three play at the Ida 48-yard line. A holding penalty set Hudson back six yards and the Tigers responded. Jimmy Williams hit Smith with a great pass and a nice catch for a 35-yard touchdown strike through the air. The drive covered 69 yards on eight plays and ended with Milligan’s kick for a 14-6 lead with still 4:16 left in period one.

Ida moved the ball but was finally stopped at the Tiger 22-yard line on a fourth and nine play. Meiko McDaniel had a big stop in that series for the Tigers. Ida got the ball back and was stopped at the Tiger 44-yard line and was forced to punt. The ball went inside the Tiger five-yard line on the punt but a Hudson player inadvertently touched it and the muffed ball ended up in the end zone for another gift Ida touchdown. The Tigers caught a bad break when the refs ruled accidentally that the Bluestreaks scored. After the missed point after run it was 14-12 Tigers. Hudson’s coaching staff would soon learn that the misplayed punt that deflected into the end zone should have been Hudson’s ball at the 20-yard line on a touchback but since a play was run on the extra point try the officials couldn’t correct their mistake and the score stood. Suddenly the homecoming crowd grew quiet as Hudson had a slim 14-12 lead with 5:08 until intermission. Back came the Tigers who faced a fourth and six at the Ida 29-yard line with 1:58 to halftime. Williams hooked up with a wide-open Milligan on a well-executed pass play down the middle of the field for a touchdown. The kick failed and it was 20-12. The Hudson drive went 74 yards on just nine plays.

Ida was forced to punt and the Tigers got the ball back and went to work. The Tigers used a 40-yard gain on a big pass play to set up a touchdown. Williams hit Milligan down the middle again just like he did on the previous score. Williams found Smith again for the second time for a 12-yard touchdown pass with just two seconds until halftime. Milligan ran in the two-point conversion and after a four-play, 56-yard drive the Tigers led 28-12 at halftime. Tiger linebacker Nathaniel Osborne took time out from listening to his coaches talk at halftime to be named homecoming king. Brittany Luma, the coach’s niece, was honored as the queen.

In the second half the Tigers scored first as McCaskey bulled his way in from a yard out mid-way through period three at the 6:33 mark. The score ended a drive of 54 yards on nine plays and Hudson led 36-12 after Smith caught a pass from Milligan on a halfback throw. Big plays involving the score came from Hart who tackled the Ida punter on a fake punt to give the Tigers the ball at the Ida 46-yard line. McCaskey had a 30-yard run down to the two-yard line to set up his own score. Late in period three Milligan went in from 16 yards out on a run for a Tiger lead of 43-12 after his kick was good with 55 seconds left in the quarter.

Ida tacked on an offensive score on a pass with 10:04 left to play. The pass for two was good and the scoring was over at 43-20. Ida went 80 yards on eight plays against Danny’s tough defense much to the chagrin of the Tiger defensive coordinator Danny Rogers who wanted a defensive shutout as both of Ida’s early scores came against the Tiger offense and special teams.

Looking at the numbers

Hudson ran the ball 52 times for 322 yards. Ida ran it 25 times for 67 yards. Milligan led all rushers with 20 carries for 176 yards. McCaskey had 61 on 11 tries, while Grant Benschoter had 33 yards on ten carries and Dimitri Nealy had 23 on five attempts. Lucas Sparapani ran twice for 15 yards and Sandor Heistan ran twice for ten yards. Ida hit 13 of 19 passes for 105 yards, while Hudson hit six of seven for 138 yards with 135 of them coming before halftime. In fact, the only incompletion was really not even that as Hudson grounded the ball just before the late score before halftime to kill the clock. All passes intended for receivers were completed in a great passing performance for the ground-oriented Tigers. “I have said all year that we don’t have to throw much but when we do we have to make the them count and we did in the first half,” said Luma. “Jimmy bounced back from that fumble and played great and hit some big passes. I can’t say enough about Jimmy hitting the big passes and that play down the middle to Milligan was open like I figured it would and Jimmy put the ball where he needed to.”

Milligan caught three passes for 88 yards, while Smith caught three for 50 yards for all of the 138 yards receiving. Williams was four of five with three touchdowns and really he was four for four taking away the grounding pass attempt. Hudson never punted and Ida punted it away four times. Hudson had 16 first downs to ten for Ida and the Tigers had four penalties for 23 yards to minus 26 yards on four flags for Ida.

On defense it was junior James Herron with a team-high 11 tackles. Another junior Alex Leathers had nine as did Hart and Benschoter. Devan Marry and Osborne both had six stops, while McCaskey, Milligan and Ricky Beach all had five.

Up next: Panthers on the prowl

Stockbridge, a 28-25 loser to Hudson last year, comes to town for the biggest game of the regular season around here in many years. The Panthers are 6-1 and feature the best quarterback in lower southern Michigan. Jeff O’Brien is virtually unstoppable and Danny’s D will have its sternest test of the season. Stockbridge just put up 56 points on Jackson Western after scoring 63 against Albion and a whopping 75 in the season opener against Whitmore Lake. Heck, they had 68 at halftime! Prediction: Tigers win a real thriller 39-30. Go Tigers!