Hartley High School football coach Brad Burchfield does not consider himself to be a gambling man.
But Burchfield took a chance when he called for an onside kick with his team holding a seven-point lead in the second quarter on Friday, Sept. 16.
Dominique Scott recovered Brent Wahle’s kick and five plays later Marcellus Calhoun scored on a 3-yard run to put the host Hawks ahead 28-14 en route to a 45-21 victory.
Hartley, the defending Division IV state champion, improved to 4-0, and Hoban fell to 0-4.
“We always try to find a way to create momentum, whether it’s offense, defense or special teams,” Burchfield said. “I thought we were able to do that (Friday) night. We had the home fans behind us. I thought it was important.”
Hoban coach Ralph Orsini said his team prepared for the onside kick.
“They’ve done that and we prepared for that, but give Hartley credit first of all for the onside kick,” he said. “That gave them momentum and then the first play, a 50-yard run, and that killed our momentum. Then we made a couple mistakes. We get a personal-foul penalty, which is unacceptable, and then an onside kick.”
Early on, it did not appear the Hawks were going to have much trouble against the Knights, who lost defensive lineman LaTroy Lewis, a Tennessee recruit, to injury earlier in the season.
On the opening drive, the Hawks drove down the field behind Jarrod Zang, who had runs of 6 and 15 yards before punching it into the end zone from 9 yards.
Hoban’s first possession was cut short when quarterback Dominick Orsini’s first pass was intercepted by a leaping Alonzo Saxton to give the Hawks possession near midfield.
Three plays later, JaWaun Woodley sprinted through the middle of the defense and sprinted for a 56-yard score.
It was the first of several amazing displays of athleticism by the 5-10, 220-pound junior, as he finished with 207 yards on 18 carries.
“(Woodley is on) a different level than everyone else,” Burchfield said.
Hartley amassed 384 of its 396 yards on the ground, while Hoban rushed for 184 of its 242 yards.
Calhoun added touchdown runs of 1 and 5 yards for the Hawks.
“He got through,” coach Orsini said of Woodley. “Give their line a lot of credit. He found the openings and when he was stopped, he cut back and made plays.”
After Woodley’s score gave the Hawks a 14-0 lead, the Knights closed to 14-7 as DarShaun James capped a 12-play, 70-yard drive with an 8-yard touchdown run.
After a Hartley punt, Hoban put together another long drive, 12 plays for 73 yards, with James scoring from 5 yards to tie the game at 14.
But in a showcase of two great backs, Woodley has a 60-yard run and Zang went in for the go-ahead score on a 2-yard run with 5 minutes, 55 seconds to go in the half.
Wahle’s 37-yard field goal gave the Hawks a 31-14 advantage heading into intermission.
“It’s just another win. It’s a big one. We kind of circled it last year when we signed the contract,” Burchfield said. “We knew it was going to be an important game – a big game. Both of us are well-respected around the state, and we’re real excited about (the win).”
AKRON HOBAN 7 7 7 0 -- 21
HARTLEY 14 17 0 14 -- 45
H--Zang 9 run (Wahle kick)
H--Woodley 56 run (Wahle kick)
AH--Dar. James 8 run (McGee kick)
AH--Dar. James 5 run (McGee kick)
H--Zang 2 run (Wahle kick)
H--Calhoun 3 run (Wahle kick)
H--Wahle 37 FG
AH--Orsini 4 run (McGee kick)
H--Calhoun 1 run (Wahle kick)
H--Calhoun 5 run (Wahle kick)