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For most of the season, Twinsburg football coach Mike Bell lamented the fact that his team's improvement this season was not reflected in its record.
On Oct. 14, the Tigers showed they have improved by pulling off one of the biggest upset wins in school history.
Twinsburg grabbed an early 14-0 lead and held on late to beat Hudson 21-12 Oct. 14 at Hudson Memorial Stadium.
In the end Twinsburg quarterback Jalen Tucker took a knee to run out the final seconds, as Twinsburg improved to 2-6, 2-3 in Suburban League National Conference play.
Hudson dropped to 6-2, 4-1 in the National Conference.
"We talk about it all the time; we tell our guys let's finish the game in the victory formation," Bell said. "To be able to do it tonight against a great Hudson football team is just phenomenal. Considering the opponent over there, it's a big win for the program and for what we are trying to establish."
"You gotta give it up to their guys. They came out and were the aggressor. They play a tough schedule," Hudson mentor Jeff Gough said. "Each week they came out and play really hard in the first half; they were 14-14 [at the half] against Stow. They stunned us early and in the second half they just kept going."
While Twinsburg's defense held Hudson to one touchdown and out of the end zone late, it was a combination of strong defense and third-down execution by the offense that spotted the visitors an early lead.
On the game's opening possession, Tucker completed passes on third down and medium to long three straight times and scrambled for 15 yards on a third and eleven.
The 14-play, 68-yard march ended when Cam'Ron McClain (22 carries for 54 yards) went into the end zone from eight yards out. When Hudson jumped offside on the extra point, Bell opted to go for two. Tucker kept around left end for an 8-0 lead with 5:51 left in the first quarter.
The Tigers' defense got the ball back quickly with the first of their four takeaways. A bomb on Hudson's first play from scrimmage was picked off by defensive back Brenden Little. Little's return had Twinsburg in business again at the Hudson 43.
Third downs were again key and the Tigers even converted on a fourth and five pass completion to Jared Eaton. Four plays later Eaton got the ball on an end-around reverse pitch. The senior raced around right end for the 11-yard score.
Hudson's Evan Westerbeck blocked the extra point but Twinsburg was on top 14-0 with 2:47 left in the first quarter.
"We always talk about starting fast. We weren't moving the ball fast but we were moving the ball," Bell praised. "Finishing drives with the ball in the end-zone was huge. You couldn't script the beginning of the game any better for us tonight than what happened tonight."
While Twinsburg's offense racked-up 194 yards in offense in the first half, it's defense limited Hudson to just two first downs before the break and just 47 yards of offense.
Hudson finally got on the board with 3:30 left in the third quarter driving 91 yards. Quarterback Colt Pallay, who went 14-of-23 for a career high 204 yards found Greg Mailey deep. The 57-yard bomb along the right sideline cut the deficit to 14-7. Mailey had five catches for 97 yards for the game.
The Tigers answered. Twinsburg converted a third and 13 early in the drive on a pass from Tucker to Eaton (five catches for 85 yards).
Later on fourth and seven, Tucker rolled right and lofted a bomb to Tre Radford for a 35-yard touchdown. Casey McCarthy booted the extra-point for a 21-7 lead with 1:08 left in the third.
Behind the running of Matt Restifo (7-58 yards on the ground) and the passing of Pallay the Explorers drove to the Twinsburg four. After a penalty, Hudson settled for a 34-yard Grant Gonya field goal with 8:05 left in the game, cutting it to 21-10.
Hudson drove again the next time it had the ball. After picking up a first down at the one they were denied by the Twinsburg defense in four tries.
Hudson's Daniel Saxon caught Tucker in the end zone for a safety two plays later, making it 21-12 with 2:07 left, but the Explorers got no closes.
Twinsburg travels to Nordonia Oct. 21 at 7 p.m.