South Range runs over Hubbard
By LOWELL SPENCER
GREENFORD — In the short history of the Northeast 8 Conference, the South Range Raiders have made quite a name for themselves.
Friday night they stonewalled the undefeated Hubbard Eagles 34-0 in a battle of state-ranked unbeatens to claim their second consecutive NE8 crown and firmly cemented themselves in the OHSAA playoffs that begin next week.
South Range, the smallest school in enrollment in the NE8, improves to 10-0 on the season and 7-0 in the NE8. The Eagles end the regular season with a 9-1 mark, 6-1 in league play.
Both teams came into the contest with offenses that were putting big numbers up on the scoreboard, but it was the Raiders’ defense that won the contest. They held the Eagles’ talented senior running back T.C. Caffey to just 71 yards, the first time he was under 150 yards this season. Meanwhile, the Raiders offense was able to control the game on the ground and make some big plays in the air to methodically pull away.
“Hats off to my defensive staff,” Raiders’ coach Dan Yeagley said. “Coach (David) Rach and all those guys. They came up with a game plan and they made it happen. The kids have played fantastic all year and we came into tonight knowing we had to play our very best. And those guys rose to the occasion. They played unbelievably.”
“It was a big group effort,” Raiders senior defensive lineman Logan Cormell said. “We all came together as one group to stop their run which is their best (weapon)
“I commend the way they played tonight. We just couldn’t get anything going offensively,” Eagles’ coach Brian Hoffman said. “That was the problem, and our defense was on the field. I think our defense played well at times. But offensively we just couldn’t get into any rhythm tonight.”
Perhaps the play that epitomized the game was just before halftime when the Raiders quarterback Billy Skripac scrambled to his right evaded a would-be Eagles defender, and then launched a 26-yard scoring strike to a wide-open Connor Jones in the end zone to stake the Raiders to a 20-0 lead. That score came with just 43 seconds before halftime.
“It was supposed to be just an 8-yard turn-around play, but all the safeties went outside so I just kept going. Billy was scrambling and I just kept thinking throw to me. I wasn’t nervous until the last second when I saw him (defender) get up in front of me,” Jones explained the play. “It was pretty big right before halftime.”
“We were still in the football game and you’re going into the second half potentially if we get the stop there. And the quarterback extended the play and they made a good play,” Hoffman said.
In the second half, the Raiders took advantage of a costly mistake by the Eagles. Following a three and out by the Raiders to start the half, it looked like the Eagles were in good shape to make a dent in the deficit. But when senior Landan Bates raced 34 yards to the Raiders 30, he had the ball punched out of his hands and recovered by the Raiders’ Logan Cormell.
The Raiders took advantage of the miscue by driving 70-yards on 13 plays with Dylan Dominguez racing 5 yards for a score with 1:34 remaining in the third quarter. The score was set up on a perfectly executed hook and lateral to Dominguez who picked up 27-yards down to the Eagles’ 36.
The Raiders scored their last touchdown on an 8-yard run by Jake Starkey with only 2:14 left in the contest. That provided the points in the game.
An opening drive by the Raiders gave them an early 6-0 lead when junior JD Crouse plowed into the end zone from just 1-yard out. The score came at the 5:46 mark of the first quarter.
They added to their lead with 4:55 remaining in the first half when Skripac found junior Shane Lindstrom on a screen pass that Lindstrom sidestepped a defender and raced 11 yards for the score. That gave them a 13-0 lead.
“We put a lot of heart and energy into this week and then to get this result is not what we wanted,” Hoffman said. “It wasn’t what we practiced for, so we are going to have to go back to the drawing boards and get ready.”
“It’s definitely a momentum builder,” Yeagley said. “We have to keep it going. We want to make a run in the playoffs.”
Next week, both the Raiders and Eagles will appear in the OHSAA playoffs. The Eagles look to host a first-round game next Friday night. The Raider will also host a first-round playoff game, except on Saturday night.
HUBBARD: 0- 0-0-0– 0
S. RANGE: 6-14-7-7–34
SR-JD Crouse 1 run (kick failed)
SR-Shane Lindstrom 11 pass from Billy Skripac (Luke Starkey kick)
SR-Connor Jones 26 pass from Skripac (Starkey kick)
SR-Dylan Dominguez 5 run (Starkey kick)
SR- Jake Starkey 8 run (Starkey Kick)
First downs 6 16
Total Yards 154 319
Rushes-yards 27-154 45-177
Passing 0 142
Comp-Att-Int 0-6-0 7-12-0
Punts-Avg. 3-26.7 3-38.0
Fumbles-Lost 4-2 4-0
Penalties-Yards 3-35 4-20
RUSHING–Hubbard, Landon Bates 12-81, T.C. Caffey 20-71; South Range, Billy Skripac 17-68, Dylan Dominguez 17-58, Tyler Remish 3-38.
PASSING– Hubbard, Nick Hendrix 0-6-0-0-0; South Range, Billy Skripac 7-12-142-1-0.
RECEIVING– South Range, Connor Jones 3-68, Dylan Dominguez 1-27, JD Crouse 1-24, Shane Lindstrom 2-23.
FUMBLES – South Range, Logan Cormell, Shane Lindstrom.