HUDSON — Brunswick got back to playing Brunswick football Friday night. Because of that, the Blue Devils might ultimately get back to the Division I playoffs after a two-year absence.
A week after getting dominated in the trenches by Austintown Fitch and suffering its first loss of the season, Brunswick turned around and did the same thing to a good Hudson team, winning 26-22 in a Northeast Ohio Conference crossover game that should generate a lot of computer points for the Blue Devils down the road.
“That’s the team I’m used to,” Brunswick coach Luke Beal said. “Those are the guys I coached all summer.”
The Blue Devils (3-1) attempted just five passes — one was intercepted and returned 63 yards for the first touchdown of the game — and had only 14 yards through the air, but still nearly doubled the Explorers (3-1) in total offense, 396-201.
By defeating reigning River Division champion Hudson, which figures to win seven to nine games this season, Valley Division member Brunswick will pick up valuable computer points as it attempts to reach the postseason for the first time in Beal’s three years as coach.
“I’m just worried about Garfield Heights,” Beal said of his team’s next opponent. “We’ll let the chips fall where they may.”
The Blue Devils played with a chip on their shoulder against the Explorers, as they held a 69-47 edge in plays and a 20-8 advantage in first downs. Brunswick repeatedly converted by running the ball on third down, and when that didn’t work, it went 5-for-6 on fourth-down runs.
“That’s a lot of heart from the players,” said tailback Nick Roberts, who carried 30 times for 176 yards. “That’s some adversity. You’ve got to tackle that adversity and get better.”
In addition to the 5-foot-9, 185-pound Roberts, slot back Keith Yohman had seven carries for 88 yards, including a 17-yard TD, and quarterback Dan Yohman had 16 carries for 82 yards and a pair of 1-yard scores. Fullback Danny Stepp added nine carries for 30 yards, including a 2-yard score that proved to be the game-winner on a night when Brunswick ran the ball 64 times.
“I just put my shoulders down instead of trying to get scores,” Roberts said. “We were trying to move down the field and take the clock away.”
Brunswick certainly did that, but the outcome was in doubt until the end thanks to big plays by the Explorers and big mistakes by the Blue Devils.
At the end of one quarter, Brunswick held a 27-3 edge in plays, an 8-0 advantage in first downs and had outgained Hudson 162-1 — yes, 162-1 — but trailed 8-6 thanks to Tim Kennedy’s pick six of Dan Yohman.
It was clear, however, that the Blue Devils could move the ball, and they rallied to go up 19-15 at the half on three long touchdown drives that totaled 196 yards and 33 plays. Thirty-one of those plays were rushes, including a 31-yard scamper on a fake punt by Keith Yohman to keep the second drive alive — and all but 10 of the yards came on the ground.
“We just wanted to go out and play,” Roberts said. “We made our mistake (on the interception). That’s what put them ahead, but that was our own fault. We came back and got better.”
Hudson went up 22-19 on the first possession of the third period when Michigan recruit Ben Gedeon came out of the backfield to catch a 2-yard pass from Mitchell Guadajni. That came three plays after Guadajni hit Leighton Antonio, who earlier had a 43-yard catch and a 13-yard TD reception, for 29 yards to the 2 on fourth-and-3.
Brunswick came right back, going 60 yards in 10 running plays, with Stepp bulling into the end zone to make it 26-22. That means the Blue Devils’ four scoring drives consisted of 41 rushes for 246 yards and two passes for 10 yards.
“If you can’t stop the running game, it’s going to be a long night,” Hudson coach Ron Wright said. “That was the case tonight — through us, over us and around us.”
On a drive that spanned the end of the third period and beginning of the fourth, the Explorers had numerous chances to score but failed to convert.
On first-and-10 from the Brunswick 49, Gedeon took a handoff and pitched back to Guadajni, who couldn’t hit a wide-open Kennedy for a TD due to some heavy pressure.
Two plays later, on third-and-22 from the Hudson 39, Antonio dropped a 40-yard heave that was right in the bread basket and might have gone for a touchdown.
On the very next play, Brunswick muffed Hudson’s first punt of the night, giving the Explorers a first down at the Blue Devils 34.
On first down, Gedeon was moved to quarterback and had Antonio wide open at the goal line, but underthrew him.
“They had a couple opportunities and weren’t able to convert,” Beal said. “That certainly helped us out.”
Brunswick’s Alex Pekar didn’t waste his chance, intercepting a pass over the middle by Guadajni — he was picked off by Patrick Shaugnessy earlier in the game — to end the nonsense.
“I saw their guy take off and I went after him and happened to be in position,” Pekar said.
A few third- and fourth-down conversions later, Brunswick had finished playing Brunswick football and put itself in great position to make a playoff run.
Contact Rick Noland at (330) 721-4061 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Brunswick 26, Hudson 22
BRUNSWICK 6 13 7 0 — 26
HUDSON 8 7 7 0 — 22
H — Tim Kennedy 63 interception return (Pierce Royster run), 10:00.
B — Dan Yohman 1 run (pass failed), 5:48.
B — Yohman 1 run (run failed), 11:22.
H — Leighton Antonio 13 pass from Mitchell Guadajni (Royster kick), 8:43.
B — Keith Yohman 17 run (Triston Wasil kick), 3:47.
H — Ben Gedeon 2 pass from Guadajni (Royster kick), 7:15.
B — Danny Stepp 2 run (Wasil kick), 3:08.