The Huron Tigers struggled in the first half against Perkins on Friday night, but they came out of intermission with a plan:
"Instead of zipping it up, we decided to open it up and play more sideline-to-sideline ball," Huron coach Tony Legando said.
The plan didn't work that well. The Tigers' offensive production went from six points in the first half to eight in the second, and they finished with just more 200 yards of offense.
But in Huron's 14-0 homecoming win over Perkins on Friday night, they realized their secret to success:
Defensive stopping power.
Huron (5-2, 3-1 SBC) forced the Pirates into three turnovers -- two interceptions and a fumble -- and stopped the Perkins offense in the backfield for losses of 56 yards as they won their second shutout of the season.
This is the first time for the Tigers since 2004 they've pitched two shutouts in the same season.
"We're certainly not connecting on all cylinders (on offense), but what's different about this team is that we really have a strong defense that we can just lean on and be patient," Legando said. "That's a little different that what we've had around here. I think the victories are speaking for themselves."
Perkins committed nine penalties, including three personal fouls, for 75 yards. They outgained the Tigers in yards, 232-206, but gave any advantage away with the penalties.
"Mistakes, mistakes, mistakes. That's what's beating us right now," Perkins head coach Jason Ziegler said. "I'm not going to take anything away from Huron -- they're a good football team -- but we made a lot of mistakes, and unfortunately, you can't make mistakes like we did and win a football game."
Perkins faced fourth-and-4 on its own 14 yard line and was forced to punt it away. The Pirates were tagged with a personal foul on a short kick, resulting in a first-and-10 from Perkins' 20.
The Tigers fumbled the ball away on their first play. Huron didn't have to wait long for another offensive chance as Perkins fumbled the ball back just two plays later. Troy DeLamatre recovered the ball for the Tigers on the 14-yard line.
On third-and-seven Brian Bollenbacher connected with Jake Hillman for an 11-yard touchdown; Bollenbacher scrambled on a broken passing play as Hillman was open in the end zone.
Huron scored again on their first drive of the second quarter. Bollenbacher capped a seven-play, 41-yard drive with a short pass to Justin Hicks, who carried it in from 13 yards out.
Both defenses stopped the run well: the Tigers finished with 31 carries for just 50 yards and Perkins had 43 carries for 129 yards.
Perkins' Richard Hohler had 18 carries for 75 yards and Mitchell Benkey rushed seven times for 48 yards, but quarterback Brandon Smith and rushed (and was sacked) a total of eight times for a loss of 20 yards.
Huron senior Matt King tracked down Smith for three solo sacks.
A week after throwing one pass all game, Bollenbacher finished with 16-of-25 passing with 156 yards and an interception and two touchdowns for the Tigers. Jake Hillman led the Huron receiving corps with nine catches for 98 yards.
The Pirates fall to 1-6, 1-3 in the SBC. It was their fifth loss of 14 points or fewer.
"There's nothing (strategy-wise) that we can change," Ziegler said. "If we're going to jump offsides, if we're going to block in the back, if we're going to hold and we're going to do all those little things it won't matter if we call pass, run, or punt. It won't matter because we have penalties on everything."
Huron came into Friday's game in 8th place in the Region 14 standings, less than .02 points ahead of Lorain Clearview and just ahead of Van Wert and Ottawa-Glandorf. Edison was 6th in Region 14 before their loss to Oak Harbor Friday.
Legando said he doesn't mind the Tigers' dreams of making the playoffs.
"I say that's okay as long as we're dreaming with our eyes open and understand that it takes hard work."
The Tigers travel to Oak Harbor next Friday to face the 6-1 Rockets. Huron likely needs a victory there -- plus wins over Margaretta (3-4) Week 9 and Port Clinton (4-3) Week 10 -- to make the playoffs.
Perkins hosts Clyde (7-0, 4-0 SBC) next Friday.
Perkins 0 0 0 0 -- 0
Huron 0 6 8 0 -- 14
Huron: Hillman 15 pass from Bollenbacher (kick fail)
Huron: Hicks 13 pass from Bollenbacher (Fantozz pass from Bollenbacher)
First Downs 14 14
Rush-Yds. 31-50 43-129
Pass Yds. 156 103
Att.-Comp.-Int. 25-16-1 23-14-2
Punts-Avg. 3-38.3 4-31.5
Penalties-Yds. 2-25 9-75
Huron: Hicks 22-34, Bollenbacher 6-4, Graham 2-11, Olds 1-1; Perkins: Hohler 18-75, Smith 8-(-20), Laser 4-24, Benkey 7-48, Snyder 1-9, Moore 3-8, Balduff 1-(-13), Gerold 1-(-2).
Huron: Bollenbacher 25-16-1-156-2; Perkins: Smith 23-14-2-103-0.
Huron: Graham 1-0, Hillman 9-98, Fantozz 2-20, Hicks 4-34; Perkins: Ebert 6-65, Hohler 3-9, Gastier 2-5, Laser 3-24.