By ANDY WOLF
BASCOM An injury to starting quarterback Zach Kreais on the first series of the game threw a wrench in Hopewell-Loudons well-balanced offense.
The Chieftains werent out of bullets still having a large weapon in Sam Stickley who racked up 181 rushing yards plus a score and had a 62-yard pick-six on defense.
Yet Tiffin Calvert led the entire way, pitched a shutout in the second half and cemented a 21-12 victory with a late score.
I dont know if Ive ever said this before but I dont think the best team won tonight, H-L coach Brian Colatruglio said. I just feel bad for my kids. They were the better team and they deserved to win the game. (Tiffin Calvert) made the plays they needed to and theyre a really good football team, but so are we. I feel bad for Zach. Hes a great kid.
In almost a reverse scenario last season, the Chieftains were forced to pass the ball much more often as Stickley missed five games due to injury.
Kreais, who averaged 215.9 passing yards a game last season, had his only pass fall incomplete as the Chieftains went three-and-out on their first series.
Hopewell-Loudon only attempted four more passes in the first half and 15 total for the game as true freshman Luke Jameson (6-foot-2, 175-pounds) got tossed into the fire for his first varsity action.
Hed hit on 4 of 14 for 38 yards, was sacked twice and threw three interceptions.
Its not even fair, Colatruglio said of Jameson having to fill in. He doesnt even know half our plays, trying to figure out how to run scout team.
We have to throw him out there against a really good football team. He made some great plays.
While the night turned sour quickly, the ground-and-pound with Stickley was working.
The 5-11, 185-pound speedster picked up 111 in the second half on 14 carries and was only tackled for a loss once.
You know what our offensive line and Sam, whenever everybody in the stadium knows hes going to keep getting the ball, for him to keep grinding out yards like he did, Colatrugio said. We gave ourself chances, multiple drives in the second half in their territory.
His largest gain nearly went the distance and almost flipped the game late in the third quarter with Calvert leading 14-12.
Facing a third-and-2 at their own 15, Stickley disappeared from the pile with first down yardage and was off to the races.
But Tiffin Calvert cornerback Zach Conn chased him down from the opposite sideline and made the touchown-saving tackle at the 11-yard line just as the third-quarter ended.
The Chieftains stalled from there with Jameson throwing incomplete in the end zone on third and fourth down.
I cant believe (Stickely) got caught, Colatruglio said. That kids got to be fast. I never thought in the world (Stickly) would get caught. Thats the play of the game. The fact that he ran him down when not too many guys have ever run him down. We (wouldve) had all the momentum of the world, we take the lead there. We wouldve been tough to beat.
Hopewell-Loudons defense did all it could to give the offense the ball.
On the ensuing possession, they loaded the box on a fourth-and-one at the Calvert 16, allowing Aaron Yerkes and Alec Bower to bust free and gang-tackle Connor Kwiat for a loss.
However their next two drives ended with Jameson throwing interceptions to Robby Paul and Nick Krajewski.
Pauls pick set up a 8-yard plunge by Kwiat on the very next play.
Kwiat totaled 103 yards on 20 carries after only having 35 yards in the first half.
Park Hemminger gave the Senecas a multi-dimensional look at quarterback, rushing for 55 yards and throwing for 169.
Hed hit Conn for first-half scores of 21 and 12 yards on the same right slant pattern,
The second hookup came shortly after Stickley picked up all 52 yards on a 8-play drive, capped with a 6-yard rushing touchdown.
Tiffin Calvert coach Todd Fox said the Kreais injury didnt change how his team wanted to defend the Chieftains.
We wanted to try and stop Sam, Fox said. If you dont pay attention to that kid, hes going to score and obviously, offensively and defensively he was all over the field.
Colatruglio noticed Calverts defense overreacting to Sam getting the ball.
He said he plans on giving Jameson plenty of practice reps to allow him to make his reads and get up to the speed of the game.
We have a really good football team, Colatruglio said. I like everything we saw. We have a great football team. The QB goes down on the first series, you would think that would dampen your spirits a bit but our kids fought.
Tiffin Calvert 7 7 0 7 21
Hopewell-Loudon 0 12 0 0 12
TC Conn 21 pass from Hemminger (Ardner kick)
H-L Stickley 6 run (pass failed)
TC Conn 12 pass from Hemminger (Ardner kick)
H-L Stickley 62 interception return (run failed)
TC Kwiat 8 run (Ardner kick)
First Downs 16 6
Rushes-yards 33-179 30-142
Passing Yards 169 38
Comp-Att-Int 14-25-1 4-15-3
Punts-Avg. 2-23 3-32.6
Fumbles-Lost 1-0 4-1
Penalties-Yards 7-60 2-25
rushing Tiffin Calvert, Kwiat 20-103, Hemminger 6-55, Jones 7-21. Hopewell-Loudon, Stickley 27-181, Kreais 1-(-1), Jameson 2-(-30).
passing Tiffin Calvert, Hemminger 15-25-1-169. Hopewell-Loudon, Jameson 4-14-3-38.
receiving Tiffin Calvert, Paul 3-16, Kwiat 2-33, Somodi 2-29, Jones 2-21, Romblach 1-18. Hopewell-Loudon, Nelson 2-25, Hedrick 1-16, St. Clair 1-12.