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Hubbard runs wild to beat Aurora

November 16, 2013
By JOE SIMON - Tribune Chronicle ( , Underthelights

AUSTINTOWN - Hubbard had been here before - several times actually.

Three times in the past five years the Eagles have played in the regional semifinal, and three times they came up empty.

Not this year - not even close.

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Hubbard ran all over Aurora in a Division III, Region 7 semifinal at Fitch Falcon Stadium, earning a resounding 49-19 victory. The Eagles (12-0) square off against the team that kept them from reaching this point last year, the unbeaten and returning state champs, Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary (12-0).

But for right now, Hubbard and coach Brian Hoffman are going to enjoy the moment.

"We've worked hard for this," Hoffman said. "To get to play in that game after being here (in a regional semifinal) a year ago and kind of taking it on the chin, we worked from day one in the offseason to get back to this point, so we're going to give it all we have this week and see what happens."

Article Photos

Tribune Chronicle / R. Michael Semple
Hubbard’s Jared O’Hara (72) hoists George Hill (4) into the air in celebration after Hill rushed in to the end zone for a late, second-quarter touchdown. Hubbard’s Cole Bencetic (6) watches.

The Irish trounced Hubbard, 54-14, and rolled to a state title last year. The Eagles expect to put up a better fight this time around.

"I was already thinking about it," Hubbard running back George Hill said. "Even though we were playing this game, I was thinking about St. Vincent-St. Mary."

It was hard not to think about the potential rematch after the first half the Eagles put together. Junior running back Larry Scott ran for 113 yards and three touchdowns by halftime, and Hill added a 30-yard scamper on a jet-sweep play just before intermission to give Hubbard a commanding 28-0 lead. Darnell Tate opened up the second half with a 68-yard touchdown on the Eagles' second play. The three-headed monster had its way.

Scott (19 carries, 142 yards, three touchdowns), Hill (10, 169, 3) and Tate (7, 110, 1) all eclipsed 100 yards as Hubbard ran for 455 yards and seven touchdowns.

"They're big, they're strong, they're fast and they have three kids that are 4.5-(second) 40-(yard dash) kids," Aurora coach Bob Mihalik said. "Believe it or not, this may sound stupid, but I thought (defensive coordinator Brian) Wervey had a great defensive scheme going in, and we had them at the point of attack. They just kept cutting everything back, and when they get those guys in the open field, they're gone. That was what our biggest worry was."

The Greenmen (9-3) made things a little interesting in the third quarter. They cut the lead to 35-12 and then recovered an onside kick, but a pass from George Bollas (who led Aurora with 152 yards and one TD on 27 carries) fell incomplete on fourth-and-6. Hill removed all doubt two plays later when he scored from 29 yards out.

"I was still nervous," said Hoffman, whose Eagles lost to Aurora, 14-7, in a 2008 regional semifinal. "They do a great job with their program. They've been there. They have a state title under their belt. Their kids kept battling. I was a little nervous. When we got into the fourth quarter, I felt a little better, and after George was able to crack that last one, we felt like we had command of the game."

Overlooked in the offensive outburst was a Hubbard defense that allowed 57 total yards in the first half. Granted, Aurora ended up with 314 yards (201 on the ground), but most of it came after the Eagles were up big. That type of defense must continue against St. Vincent-St. Mary, which ran for 263 yards and four touchdowns in its 35-7 victory over Poland.

"We've got to work very, very, very hard this week - like we do every week," Hill said. "But we gotta work harder."

A win would send Hubbard, which last reached the regional final in 2000, to its first final four in school history. The matchup against the Irish is at 7:30 p.m. Friday at a site to be determined.