by Rob Barrone | Correspondent
Brunswick -- "A tale of two days."
That's what Hudson head football coach Ron Wright said after his team earned a 22-13 victory over Northeast Ohio Conference Valley Division rival Brunswick Sept. 21.
Wright was referring to the lightning-delayed conclusion of a game, which was postponed Sept. 20 by lightning in the area and was resumed the next day. The Explorers (4-0, 1-0) had a 12-0 lead with 4 minutes, 42 seconds left in the first half when play was halted.
The story had other options before Mother Nature intervened;
The Blue Devils (3-1, 0-1) had been a thorn in Hudson's side.
The win was the Explorers' first over their new divisional rival in four tries.
Brunswick, which knocked Hudson out of the playoffs in the two teams' first-ever meeting in 2004, also spoiled the Explorers' bids at 4-0 starts in each of the past two seasons.
"We dedicated this game to our previous two senior classes," Wright said. "They played hard but didn't come up with a win. The win was for them.
"In fact [Ben] Gedeon [a freshman at Michigan] called and said good luck. I said we are going to get one for the last two years' seniors.
Hudson moved to 4-0 for the first time since 2009.
The story could have gone a couple other directions as well as the defense, offense and special teams all had big nights and days.
Junior quarterback Mitch Guadagni recorded the fourth 200-plus yard passing game of his career and nearly had his second 100-yard rushing game as well, accounting for 336 yards.
Guadagni completed a career-high tying 19 passes in 31 attempts for 238 yards and a score. He also led the Explorers on the ground with 98 yards on 14 carries and another score.
All-state placekicker Pierce Royster booted three field goals. He connected on kicks from 29 and 24 yards, respectively, Sept. 20 and then added a career-high tying 46-yard boot into the wind Sept. 21.
In the end, it was defensive standout Matt Rightnour who was in the right place to make nearly all the key plays Sept. 21.
The junior recovered two fumbles, recorded a fourth-and-goal sack, made a big break-up on a pass attempt and ended the Blue Devils last-ditch hopes with an interception.
"He's a heady kid," Wright said. "He understands the game. We put him in a new position this week at the Swag and he comes up with a big play at the end of the game."
The Explorers got out to a fast start Sept. 20, scoring on each of their first three possessions, but it was points left on the field that could have come back to haunt them.
After starting in the hole with a Brunswick punt that was downed on the 1-yard line, Hudson took advantage of two Blue Devils' offside penalties and two long bombs into the stiff wind by Guadagni.
Offsides on the first play gave Hudson breathing room and another penalty on fourth down near midfield helped.
Guadagni also completed passes to John Zuccaro for 31 yards and Colton Whited (six catches for 76 yards) for 34.
The drive fizzled, but Royster made it 3-0 with his 29-yard field goal.
Guadagni's 25-yard keeper around left end started the Explorers' next possession off quickly.
Again, Brunswick's defense stiffened and Royster again connected this time on a 24-yard kick for a 6-0 lead early in the second quarter.
Zuccaro's third pick of the season and 11th of his career quickly gave the ball back to the Blue Devils this time with the wind behind them. Hudson made short work out of the 45-yard field following the turnover scoring in five plays.
Guadagni concluded the possession with a 9-yard run over right tackle. The point after try sailed wide left, but the Explorers had a 12-0 lead.
Despite Hudson's early dominance, Brunswick was far from out of it. The Blue Devils moved from their own 11 to the Explorers' 21 when play was stopped.
With Hudson having ACT tests Sept. 21, things changed a lot from the rain-burst weather Sept. 20 to the next play.
On the first play Sept. 21, the Blue Devils fumbled with Rightnour there for the recovery. Four plays later, Guadagni was picked off, but Brunswick didn't keep the ball long.
That's because Rightnour recovered another fumble.
"I think the fumbles were set up by Logan Malson both times coming in and hitting the running back," Rightnour said. "I was just in the right spot."
The second fumble set up the Explorers' next score. Hudson covered the 52 yards in five plays, capped off by a strike from Guadagni to Reid Robinson at the 3. Robinson dragged a defender into the end zone for a 25-yard touchdown and a 19-0 advantage with 1:58 left in the half.
After a four minute halftime (both bands were no-shows for Saturday as were most of the fans), momentum again shifted back to the Blue Devils.
Brunswick's Richie Norman (28 carries for 128 yards) capped a 59-yard drive, racing up the middle for 30 yards and a 19-7 score.
Hudson came right back, moving to the Blue Devils' 29. Royster capped that possession with his 46-yard field goal to give the Explorers a 22-7 advantage.
Back came Brunswick.
A 12-play trek ended on a fourth-and goal-play from the 4 when Rightnour sacked quarterback Steven Ficyk. It was Hudson's fourth goal-line stand in the past three games.
The Explorers seemed poised to close out the first ever win over the Blue Devils, but a fumble with 9:07 left gave them new life.
Nine plays and 45 yards later, Michael Bekeny powered in from five yards away to make the score 22-13 with 6:04 left in the game. The 2-point conversion failed.
The ensuing onside kick was recovered by Brunswick, but the Blue Devils turned the ball over on downs.
Brunswick had one last chance with 1:35 left, but Rightnour sealed the win with the interception.
"The interception was just listening to the game plan," Rightnour said. "The coaches put a lot of effort into it. They put me in a position where I could succeed."
Hudson is scheduled to play NOC rival Cuyahoga Falls Sept. 27 at 7 p.m.