Momentum shifts as Hubbard defeats Niles

HUBBARD – The Hubbard football team was badly in need of a spark midway through the second quarter in an All-American Conference, White Tier clash with Hubbard on Friday night at Alumni Field.

David Hernandez touched off a wildfire that gave the Eagles a 35-21 victory.

Trailing by a pair of scores with under seven minutes to play in the half, Hernandez picked off a pass and raced 54 yards to the end zone to get the Eagles (5-1, 3-0) within a touchdown, 14-7, with 6:45 remaining in the second quarter to turn the fates of both teams.

“That was a huge pendulum swing for us,” Hubbard coach Brian Hoffman said. “When we needed a play from him, he stepped up. They were stretching us on the defensive side. Their QB is a true two-way threat and you don’t want to bend, but be cautious. We did a nice job containing him and not allowing him to make big plays. If they did score, we wanted them to earn it. The defensive coaches did a great job preparing us.

“All the momentum was going their way. Some of the kids were maybe at that searching point. Lo and behold, David made a great football play. That changed the pendulum and swung the game.”

The Red Dragons (3-3, 1-3) were never able to recover.

“We faced adversity,” Niles coach Brian Shaner said. “It’s about how you deal with it. Are you going to step up and battle back or are you going tuck tail and run? We didn’t handle adversity well. That’s my fault. We have to be able to handle turning the ball and continue to battle.”

Later in the half, Hernandez caught a 7-yard scoring strike from Davion Daniels to knot the score, 14-14, with 21.7 seconds remaining before the intermission.

Rafael Morales gave the Eagles their first lead, 20-14, with a 3-yard touchdown carry with 3:42 to play in the third quarter, but the PAT failed. Daniels scampered 48 yards to add to the lead, 26-14, 8:13 left in the fourth quarter and Cam Resatar completed the two-point conversion pass to Sebastian Johnson to make 28-14.

Morales extended the lead further with a 6-yard run with 6:14 to play.

Niles rolled for most of the first quarter and a half, moving the ball on the ground while holding the Eagles’ rushing attack at bay.

“I think we came out and played inspired football,” Shaner said. “We came out ready to go. I don’t know where that energy went.

“(My lines) did exactly what they were coached to do. Hubbard wants to be big and physical up front. When you don’t play sound football, you see what happens. We have to keep coaching them up. We played very at the beginning, but we’ve got to be able to carry that through four quarters.”

Jaylon Sanders gave the Red Dragons the lead with a 22-yard interception return for a 7-0 Niles lead with 3:34 to play in the first quarter. Three minutes later, Robbie Savin rumbled 56 yards for a score to put his team up, 14-0, with 35.6 seconds left in the period.

“I’d say from a defensive standpoint, they outnumbered us in the box,” Hoffman said. “They were loading up on our running game. We had the turnover and we weren’t able to establish run game. Formationally, we made some adjustments. Davion gave us a lift and we were able to get some blockers out on the perimeter.”

Niles added a late score as Marlon Pearson was on the receiving end of a Jordan Soda scoring pass from six yards out with 3:19 remaining in the fourth quarter.

Daniels provided a spark to the Hubbard offense after entering as the signal caller following Sanders’ pick six. He carried 13 times for 130 yards and the touchdown.

Morales did the dirty work between the tackles for Hubbard with 103 yards and two scores on 25 carries while Savin carried 19 times for 90 yards and a touchdown for the Red Dragons.