Hoban too much for Howland

AKRON — Down 7-0 after just two snaps by Akron Hoban, the Howland Tigers showed the defending Division III state champs that they came to play Saturday night.

The Tigers rumbled 68 yards in 13 plays to the Knights’ 12-yard line. But a chop block penalty pushed them back to the 24. A 2-yard loss and a pair of incomplete passes followed, and the Tigers were on their way to a 37-0 loss at Hoban’s Dowed Field.

The setback left Howland with a 7-4 record in a season of streaks that opened with two losses, then a seven-game win string that lifted them into the first round of the Division III, Region 9 state playoffs.

Seeded seventh, the Tigers drew the top-ranked 9-1 Knights, with their imposing lines and two impressive offensive stars — quarterback Danny Clark and bruising running back Todd Sibley.

“Their offensive and defensive lines dominated. Throw in two Division I skill players and it makes it hard,” Howland coach Dominic Menendez said. “I think they might give Bowling Green (University) a battle.”

Clark, who’s heading to Kentucky to play quarterback, passed sparingly, completing 6 of 9 passes for 91 yards.

But that’s because all he had to do was hand off to University of Pittsburgh commit Sibley. The 5-10, 205-pounder showed power and speed by rushing 13 times for 174 yards and three touchdowns.

He got 77 of those yards on Hoban’s second play when he broke through the right side and scooted for the game’s first score.

The Tigers then launched their best drive. Tyriq Ellis did most of the work with a 31-yard scamper to the Knights’ 31. He added 12 more to the 12 before things broke down. He lost a yard, but quarterback Samari Dean rolled to the 10, only to see the Tigers set back to the 24 on the chop block penalty, putting them in a second down and 22 situation.

Ellis lost 2 yards, then Dean threw two incompletions and the Tigers’ best threat was over on downs.

Sibley raced 42 yards on the Knights’ first play to the Tigers’ 30, setting the stage for Clark’s 1-yard sneak two plays into the second quarter.

Hoban made it 21-0 on Sibley’s 1-yard run, a score set up by Matt Salopek’s 38-yard punt return to Howland’s 2.

The Knights pushed it to 24-0 on Grant Kersh 34-yard field goal just before the end of the first half.

Sibley’s 3-yard blast on the opening drive of the third quarter made it 31-0 and triggered the 30-point margin rule that kept the clock running for the rest of the game.

Menendez reflected on the season by praising his team’s grit.

“The guys played hard all year. They were conference champs. They should be proud,” he said.