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Hubbard clicks on all cylinders in first-round rout

November 9, 2013
By MIKE McLAIN - Tribune Chronicle ( , Underthelights

HUBBARD - The Hubbard Eagles can be scary good when they have it all working on offense.

It's bad enough for opponents that they have to deal with L.J. Scott, arguably one of the best running backs in Ohio. When sophomore speedster George Hill is added to the mix, it's unfair at times.

The Marlington Dukes discovered that reality Friday in losing to the Eagles, 42-14, in a first-round game of the Division III, Region 7 playoffs. Scott rushed for 137 yards on 21 carries, and Hill had a big second half to finish with 144 yards on eight carries.

Article Photos

Tribune Chronicle / Dave Dermer
Hubbard running back Darnell Tate (1)?prepares to stiff arm Marlington’s Shawn Kirk, left, while Chris Andrews (7) attempts to drag him down.

"When we're healthy, watch out, because we're the most dangerous team around," quarterback Brennan Wassil said.

The Eagles (11-0) advance to the Region 7 semifinals to play Aurora on Friday. The Dukes finished the season with a 7-4 record.

It has to be a joy for Eagles coach Brian Hoffman to watch film of the offense after each game. Scott slithers through defenses with speed and power. Hill is flat out fast. He moves as if there's air under his feet.

"Offensively, we tried to get a lot of guys involved," Hoffman said. "Our running game kind of set up our play action at key points. That resulted in capitalizing on drives. We're just glad to move on.

"To get through the season we've had, you feel that pressure a little bit to come in and make sure you get that win in the first round. It's only going to get tougher from here."

Scott, who had only one carry a week earlier against Canfield because of an ankle injury, showed no ill effects from the injury. He scored on runs of 1, 4 and 12 yards. Hill, who improves each week, had 121 of his yards and touchdowns on runs of 66 and 48 yards in the second half.

"We have some big linemen, and they open up holes for us," Hill said. "Then we have L.J. He's like the attacker. I'm like the speed back."

The Eagles couldn't have played much better on defense in blanking the Dukes in the first half. Marlington was limited to 21 rushing yards and 61 passing yards in the half.

The Dukes, who trailed 28-0 after three quarters, scored on a 35-yard run by Caleb Simmons and a 67-yard pass from Shawn Kirk to Jake Walker to make the final score a bit deceiving.

"Our defense really stepped up big time," said Wassil, who plays safety. "We needed a big game on defense. It was all assignment football. Everybody had to do their job, and we did that."

Hoffman expressed some concern early in the week about facing the Dukes' option offense. The Eagles didn't see the look much in the regular season.

"Defensively we played sound," Hoffman said. "Their offense calls on your defense to be assignment sound. I think our guys prepared well and our coaching staff as well did a great job on the defensive side."

Although the Eagles dominated the first half, their lead was a precarious 14-0 at intermission on touchdown runs of 1 and 4 yards by Scott. The Dukes lost two fumbles in the first half one at the Eagles' 37 on a recovery by Brandan Rivers and the other at their 29 on a recovery by Jake Frost. Scott's 4-yard scoring run came three plays after Scott's recovery.

Scott came up with another big defensive play early in the third quarter when he stopped Kirk for a loss of 6 yards on a fourth-down play. The Eagles turned the turnover into an 11-play, 64-yard drive that produced a 16-yard scoring pass from Wassil to Isiah Scott. Vlasssios Pizanias' point-after kick extended the lead to 21-0.

Hill's 66-yard run gave the Eagles a 28-0 lead. Simmons put the Dukes on the scoreboard, but Scott answered with a 12-yard scoring run.

Hills got to the outside and cut back inside on a beautiful 48-yard touchdown run midway through the fourth period. Kirk connected with Walker to conclude the scoring.

The challenge, as it always does in the playoffs, will increase next week.

"We're definitely good enough," Hill said. "As long as we work hard this week like we always do."