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by Rob Barrone | Correspondent
Macedonia -- After his team's week three 51-24 loss at home to Canton McKinley, Hudson first-year head football coach Jeff Gough noted how "fickle" the game of football can be. Momentum shifted on one play in that loss.
On Sept. 16 at Boliantz Stadium in Macedonia, the capricious nature of the game turned on the home team again.
However, this time it turned in favor of the Explorers.
After trailing 7-0 early in the game, Hudson dominated the rest of the way en route to a 34-7 victory over Nordonia in both teams' Suburban League National Conference debuts.
The Explorers (3-1, 1-0) took the initiative and were rewarded throughout the evening.
"We kept preaching all week about two things," Gough said. "First, we need to lay it all on the line. Second, you have to be the aggressor. Kids were not afraid to make mistakes."
The Knights (2-2, 0-1) took an early 7-0 lead and seemed in control until momentum shifted quickly early in the second half.
Hudson, which tied the game at 7-7 with 29 seconds left in the first half, got a pick six from linebacker Alex Beck just 48 ticks into the second half and after another turnover by Nordonia, scored again just 19 seconds later.
In all, the Explorers scored 21 points in a span of just 1 minute, 36 seconds and then cruised the rest of the way.
"The kids played hard," Knights head coach Jeff Fox said. "Our defensive coaches put together one heck of a game plan. We were in a great spot all the way until deep into that second quarter.
"Give Hudson credit. They are a good team and found a way to tack on a couple.
"Our offense turned the ball over and did some uncharacteristic things. With a good team like that, they took advantage."
The Explorers tied the game at seven on a 6-yard touchdown run by quarterback Jackson Parker with 29 seconds to play in the first half.
Kicker Grant Gonya added the first of his four point after tries.
Three plays into the third quarter, everything seemed to fall apart for Nordonia.
Sophomore quarterback Robby Levak, who completed 13-of-26 passes for 126 yards, was picked off on a third-and-7 pass deep in his own territory.
Beck took in the errant pass near the right hash mark and quickly decided the best route to the end zone was across the field to his left.
The senior eventually scored, taking it back 27 yards across the line for a 14-7 Hudson lead with 11:12 showing on the third-quarter clock.
"We didn't panic," Beck said. "We knew that it was a full game. I think my pick really changed the momentum. Our team seemed a little quiet but after that, you could just feel the energy in the stadium or at least on our side, really increase. It just took off from there."
The Explorers weren't not done.
On the ensuing kickoff, the kick was muffed and junior defensive back Jacob Hall pounced on the loose pigskin at the Knights' 21-yard line.
A couple of plays later, Hudson got its third touchdown in 96 seconds when junior running back Kevin Callahan scampered through a hole in the middle and dove into the end zone for a 21-yard touchdown and a 21-7 lead.
The two quick scores didn't completely deflate Nordonia.
On their next possession, the Knights marched 53 yards in 11 plays. The drive ran out of gas at the Explorers' 28 and a 45-yard field goal try by Trey Crockett was short.
Hudson increased its lead to 28-7 two plays later (with 8:17 left to play) when running back Dawson Wervey raced 46 yards up the gut for his second career touchdown.
Eighty seconds later, it was 34-7. Stephen Bianconi's diving interception gave the Explorers the ball at Nordonia's 32 and on the next play, junior quarterback Colt Pallay threw deep to a wide open Greg Mailey for the 32-yard score. The lead stayed at 34-7 when the Knights' Elijah Coleman blocked the extra point.
That blocked ended Gonya's streak of 40 straight successful point after tries.
Prior to the Hudson's second-half explosion, Nordonia took the lead, thanks to an Explorer turnover.
Parker's deep pass was picked off by the Knights' Brendan O'Donnell and returned 23 yards to the Hudson 46 at the midway point of the first quarter.
The Explorers' defense forced a fourth down, but Nordonia decided to go for it.
The gamble paid off big as Levak hooked up with junior Tye Evans on a pass over the middle for the first down.
Evans did the rest, breaking tackles and taking the ball to the right pylon for a 45-yard score and the 7-0 lead (4:28 left in the first quarter).
"Coach [Sean] Surdy (made some great calls against what they were showing us and the rest was Kevin, Dawson and the offensive line," Gough said. "I don't know what we rushed for, but it felt like a lot."
Wervey finished with 116 yards on 11 carries and Callahan had 59 yards in 10 attempts. Sophomore William Wallace had 41 yards on four rushes. Pallay completed 5-of-6 passes for 64 yards.
"We have some pretty good receivers and quarterbacks who can get them the ball but they [the Knights] took that away," Gough said. "They made us run the ball. We took the challenge and worked on the ground and pound."
Hudson ended with a season-high 248 yards rushing on 37 carries.
Nordonia's running game, on the other hand, never got on track.
Anthony Perrine, who rushed for 292 yards during the Knights' two losses to the Explorers last year, was limited to 48 yards on 14 carries.
Perrine left the game in the third quarter with a knee injury.
The Explorers are scheduled to host National Conference rival North Royalton (1-3, 0-1) Sept. 23 at Hudson Memorial Stadium. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.