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by Rob Barrone | Correspondent
Hudson -- Looking for a little extra oomph for the 2103 Hudson High School football Homecoming game with Cuyahoga Falls Sept. 27 Hudson based American Fireworks Co. provided a pyrotechnics show.
It wasn't really needed. The Explorers provided plenty of fireworks on the football field.
Scoring early and often, Hudson rolled to a 34-0 halftime lead and never looked back in a 41-0 victory over the Black Tigers at Hudson Memorial Stadium.
For the Explorers, it was a perfect warm-up game for their showdown Oct. 4.
Hudson (5-0) is scheduled to play Stow-Munroe Falls (5-0) at Bulldog Stadium.
"This was a catch game for us," Explorers' third-year head coach Ron Wright said. "Stow is good. "We challenged the kids this week [not to look past Falls]. We played pretty well. We wanted to get playing opportunities for all the kids. We cleared the bench and everybody got the chance to play. That was nice."
Hudson earned its 12th straight win against Falls (1-4). The Black Tigers' last win over the Explorers came in 2001 when they returned two kickoffs for scores in a 14-13 decision. Falls, which last made the playoffs in 2001, won the first five meetings as the two schools began their rivalry in 1997. Flaherty hopes to return the program to where it was when the school's first became league foes.
"Hudson is exactly the type of program that we want to be in a few years," he said.
While good things began to happen for the Black Tigers in the second half (100 yards of offense after the halftime festivities), very little went right in the first half and very little went wrong for the Explorers.
Hudson's offense was clicking on all cylinders as the Explorers came out in hurry-up mode on the game's first possession. Hudson marched 69 yards in seven plays. Junior quarterback Mitch Guadagni (12-of-17 passing for 187 yards and two scores) capped the drive by scrambling up the middle for an 8-yard touchdown run. Pierce Royster tacked on the first of his five extra points for a 7-0 lead.
Falls, which had just nine yards of offense in 21 plays in the first half, couldn't muster any offense early and soon punted the ball back to the Explorers. Again, it was short work of the field with a three-play, 75-yard drive. Hudson's longest gain from scrimmage so far this season came on the third play as senior Jared Ruffing (two carries for 61 yards) took a carry off left tackle wide and raced 58 yards for a 14-0 advantage with 5 minutes, 43 seconds left in the first quarter.
After another dominating series by the Explorers' defense, Hudson had the ball again. In a planned substitution, backup signal caller Kyle Ator saw his first varsity action of the year but had his first aerial picked off by Falls senior defensive back Ryan Horrigan.
The turnover was quickly reciprocated. Two plays later, Colton Whited intercepted Black Tigers' sophomore quarterback Mason Shook and took it back 44 yards for a 21-0 lead with 1:54 remaining in the first quarter.
The touchdown was only the beginning of a fireworks show by Whited.
The junior wideout, who caught five passes for 108 yards, scored on two more times on deep balls from Guadagni from 43 yards in the second quarter and 42 in the third.
"Colton is a guy who can do a lot of things," Wright said. "He is very talented. He fills the void we lost last year. He does a great job."
Hudson scored on all three of its second-quarter possessions to take a 34-0 halftime lead. Royster it 24-0 with a 25-yard field goal on the first possession of the quarter. Guadagni led Whited in stride over the middle on the next possession for the 43-yard touchdown and a 31-0 score.
With 50 seconds left in the half, the Explorers scored again. The five-play, 51-yard march ended with Royster splitting the uprights from 31 yards as time expired for the 34-0 halftime score.
Guadagni and company's playing time came to an end after the first possession of the second half. It was more pyrotechnics from Guadagni and Whited that ended the scoring show as the pair again hooked up on a perfect pass over the middle and the 41-0 final.
"Mitch hit spot-on balls," Whited said. "We are a young team, but we are coming along. The linemen give it all every practice. Defensively we held up."
Something needs to be done about the HHS students that insist on storming the field at the end of the game.