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Hudson football stuns Stow with improbable fourth-quarter comeback

Published: October 7, 2016 11:12 PM
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Once upon a time, the Hudson football team owned its rival from the south.

And then, everything changed last year.

Stow-Munroe Falls ended its tenure as the Explorers' whipping boy with a dramatic 17-10 victory over Hudson at Stow's Bulldog Stadium.

At that point, it was safe to say the torch had been passed since the Bulldogs won the first-ever Suburban League National Conference title and reached the Division I state semifinals for the first time in school history.

This year, Stow looked invincible again as it made the trip to Hudson Memorial Stadium for its showdown with its main National Conference rival.

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But in a stunning turn of events, the torch has been passed again.

Hudson has bragging rights over the Bulldogs after a one-year hiatus.

The host Explorers earned a thrilling come-from-behind 25-24 win over the Bulldogs Oct. 7.

With the victory, Hudson moved a game ahead of Stow in the National Conference standings.

The Explorers and Brecksville-Broadview Heights, which earned a 50-34 win over North Royalton, are tied for first place with 4-0 records in the conference.

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The Bulldogs, who had a 10-0 record in the National Conference since the beginning of last year, dropped to 3-1.

Hudson (6-1), which won its fourth straight game, scored 15 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to upset Stow.

The two clutch fourth-quarter touchdowns came from the dynamic duo of quarterback Colt Pallay and wide receiver Greg Mailey.

Both of those scores took place with less than 4 minutes remaining in the game.

Pallay hooked up with Mailey on a 28-yard TD pass with 3:51 left. Kicker Grant Gonya delivered the all-important extra point to make it 24-17.

The Explorers quickly got the ball back and took the lead in dramatic fashion.

Pallay found Mailey again for a 23-yard score to make it 24-23 with 2:16 remaining.

At that point, Hudson had a difficult choice: go for the tie or take the lead.

The Explorers took a huge chance by deciding on the latter.

That choice worked out beautifully.

This time, Hudson quarterback Jackson Parker took his turn on center stage and completed a pass to -- who else --Mailey to make it 25-24.

The Explorers' defense did the rest as the Bulldogs (6-1) suffered just their second loss in their last 21 games.

Prior to the fourth-quarter theatrics, Hudson struck first less than two minutes into the game, thanks to its special teams.

Stow quarterback Kyle Vantrease's punt was returned 57 yards for a touchdown by Colin Paltani.

Gonya's extra point made it 7-0 in favor of the Explorers with 10:17 left in the first quarter.

The Bulldogs appeared to be in charge after that.

Vantrease completed an 86-yard TD pass to Joe Andrassy and Austin Burnham kicked the first of his two extra points to tie things up at seven with 4:38 remaining in the opening quarter.

That was just the beginning for Stow.

Burnham gave the Bulldogs a 10-7 advantage by booting a 26-yard field goal with 5:40 left in the half.

Stow added one more critical score before heading to the locker room.

Andrassy made it 17-7 with a 22-yard TD run with 1:29 remaining in the half.

The Bulldogs continued to be in control in the third quarter.

Stow made it a three-score game when Vantrease hooked up with wide receiver Logan Lindsay on a 4-yard TD pass to make it 24-7 with 4:52 left. Gavin Costello added the point after try for the Bulldogs.

But Hudson got a crucial three points off the leg of Gonya, who made it 24-10 with a 30-yard field goal a little more than 2-1/2 minutes later.

Stow outgained the Explorers 370-326. Hudson converted 6-of-15 third downs and both of its fourth-down plays.

Pallay completed 11-of-17 passes for 148 yards. Vantrease was 9-of-21 for 203 yards.

Mailey was the Explorers' top receiver with nine catches for 120 yards. Andrassy had six receptions for 172 yards.

Dawson Wervey led Hudson's ground game with 76 yards in 18 attempts. Terrian Wray was Stow's leading rusher with 69 yards on 14 carries.

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