By Bill Mullaly
The Hudson Tigers took a giant step towards winning its second consecutive LCAA crown by knocking off Blissfield 22-12 on Friday night at home at legendary Thompson Field. The win was just the second of the season in league play but it came against a previously unbeaten Royal team that also had its sights set on winning the league crown. The win was also huge in that it came a week after an emotional win over chief LCAA rival Onsted. The Tigers are far from done in LCAA play with three more straight league games coming up but they took a huge leap on Friday by vanquishing the always tough Royals who came to town 3-0 like the Tigers. Blissfield left with its first loss and the Tigers move to a perfect 4-0 on the season. This was also the 18th straight regular season win for Hudson with its last loss in regular season competition coming against the Royals two years ago at Thompson Field. Since, that loss the Tigers are 22-2 in its last 24 games. The losses were to Manchester in the 2008 playoffs and, of course, to St. Francis last Thanksgiving weekend in the domed stadium in Detroit in the state championship contest.
With dates against the Monroe County triumvirate coming up in alphabetical order the Tigers need to defeat Dundee, Erie Mason and Ida with the first two coming in road contests. Then Hudson heads home for a possible six straight games. Ida, Stockbridge, Addison and then three very possible home playoff games. Fans worry about all the games, while the coaches only focus on the next game and that will be this Friday at a dangerous Dundee team. However, recent history says the Tigers should do fine against the Vikings unless they move the game indoor on a rubberized surface. Here is a close look at the key win over the Royals to put the Tigers in the driver’s seat for what could be the 7th LCAA title in head coach Chris Luma’s 14th season at Hudson as its football leader.
Game Scoring Summary
Blissfield gave it all they had but it wasn’t enough even though, they did win the second half. Fortunately, for the Tigers they won the first half and dominated the early action to give them a big enough lead to hold onto against a solid Blissfield team that will most likely go on to make the playoffs this fall. Hudson scored first to take a fast lead when Drew Milligan took it to the house from 21 yards out less than four minutes into the game at the 8:50 mark of period one. This ended a seven-play, 75-yard drive to start the game. Blissfield then took the Tiger kickoff and they went to work with a drive of their own. The Royals went 66 yards in 11 plays to score on a four-yard run by Dalton Goetz to knot the score. The Tigers failed to convert the kick and the Royals failed to make the run for two so the game was tied at 6-6 with 2:58 left in the first quarter.
The Tigers then went to work moving the ball solely on the ground to cap off a 63-yard drive in just half a dozen plays to take a lead of 12-6. Milligan scored from 41 yards away on a nice run to bring the Tiger crowd to its feat on a late summer evening. The run for two by Milligan was good making it 14-6 with just ten seconds gone in period two. Milligan scored on the opening play of the second quarter and with 11:50 until halftime the Tigers jumped ahead again. The Tigers got the ball back and were moving again but when the reached the Royal 20-yard line they made a mistake and lost the ball due to a fumble. The Tigers were not to be deterred as they scored once more before intermission to take a lead of 22-6. Milligan capped off a drive of 56 yards using ten plays as he scooted home from four yards out. When Jimmy Williams hit tight end Matthew Smith for the two-pointer it was suddenly Hudson on top 22-6 with just 23 seconds to the half.
Neither team did much in the second half scoring wise especially the Tigers as the Hudson offense took a late summer nap getting ready for the onset of fall this week. In a rare occurrence that would make one have to look long and hard in the record books for the answer the Tigers set up a good trivia question with its second half performance on offense. The question is when was the last time a Hudson team failed to score a touchdown in the second half of a game? Blissfield fortunately was only able to tack on a lone last quarter score at the 5:44 mark of the game on a easy 26-yard scoring strike to a wide open receiver. Devon Moore got open and Royal signal caller Eric Schmidt hit him for the touchdown pass to make things interesting at 22-12. Schmidt then tried to get the two-pointer with his legs but was knocked out of bounds by Tiger linebacker James Herron short of the corner end zone pylon. By denying Schmidt the end zone the Tigers were up by two scores and pretty much had the game won unless something terrible took place.
Hudson did get the ball back and they were stopped at the Royal 10-yard line late in the game much to the chagrin of the Tiger coaching staff that was less than pleased after the game. “We beat a physical, well coached team in Blissfield but I am not happy with the fact we couldn’t put them away in the second half,” said Luma about the second half offensive goose egg. “We need to clean up our play to be a great team. Sure, I am happy with a win but we didn’t finish drives like we need to. Blissfield played us tough and I knew they would but after playing very well in the first half we just didn’t execute things the way we needed to in the second half.”
A look at the numbers
Hudson ran the ball 54 times for 356 yards to just 115 yards on 26 carries for the visitors. Blissfield threw the ball 16 times and Schmidt hit nine of those for 97 yards. Hudson put it in the air three times and failed to connect save for the two-point pass to Smith.
Milligan ran the ball 18 times for a game-high 186 yards for almost 10.4 yards per attempt. Grant Benschoter ran it 18 times for 94 yards just missing the century mark. Camden McCaskey had 70 yards on ten carries, while Dimitri Nealy ran one for six yards and Herron ran twice for five yards. Williams had five carries for minus five yards. Williams missed a pass attempt, as did Sandor Heistan in his lone attempt and Milligan missed on a halfback pass. Moore was the leading Royal receiver with three grabs for 63 yards. Royal standout athlete Josh Knorr was kept in check with just 12 yards on four carries and he caught one pass for minus three yards. Blissfield punted four times to two for Hudson. The Tigers lost one fumble for the game’s lone turnover. Hudson had 14 first downs to nine for Blissfield and the Tigers got caught for 42 yards on seven flags to 47 lost yards for Blissfield on six penalties.
On defense the Tigers were paced by the play of Smith with 11 tackles, while Burke Hart had nine stops and Lucas Sparapani nine tackles also. Devan Marry had eight tackles, McCaskey seven, Alex Leathers seven and Nathaniel Osborne six.
The Tigers hit the road on Friday for a date with the Vikings of Dundee. Hudson lost to the Vikings 40-0 in 1992 then won the next 14 times before falling at home in 2007 to Dundee ending a sweet 14-game winning streak against the Vikings. Now it is a two-game streak after wins in 08 and 09. Hudson will look to make it three in a row and there is no good reason why they can’t get a win. Dundee is not hapless however, and they gave Blissfield all they wanted in week three and probably should have beaten the Royals but fumbles cost them dearly. Hudson needs to win this big road contest to go to 5-0 overall and 3-0 in the LCAA. Look for the Tigers to get a win over in Monroe County over the Vikings better known for its wrestling success than for wins on the gridiron. Kickoff is set for 7:00. Tigers roll and slay the Vikings. Hudson 38, Dundee 7.