Three key plays:
1) Huron first-and-10 at Huron's 24, 3:55 in the first quarter, Panthers lead 6-0: Huron quarterback takes five steps back and launches a bomb over the coverage to Cody Thompson on the fly. Thompson hauls it in and wins a foot race to the endzone. The score was doubly important because it stopped the Panthers' momentum with the Panthers having scored just 16 seconds before.
2) SMCC third-and-12 at SMCC's 18, 6:00 in the second quarter, Panthers lead 12-6: SMCC quarterback Alex Guerra drops back for a pass, but the Huron defense blankets the Panthers receivers, giving the Tigers time to gang-tackle Guerra for a loss. The Panthers punt on fourth-and-19 from their own 11-yard line, and Huron's Thompson returns the ball all the way to Panthers' seven-yard line.
3) Huron first-and-20 at SMCC's 41, 1:18 in the second quarter, Huron leads 14-12: The Tigers made the best of a bad situation -- After being tagged for holding on first-and-10 on their own 31, Pisano connects with Thompson at the 31 yard line on a curl route. Off-balance Panthers tacklers couldn't close space for a solid tackle, and Thompson made his way to the endzone for the 21-12 Huron lead.
Getting your kicks
Though he missed two of three field goals attempted in Friday's game, John Dusza's leg changed the game.
St. Mary's first extra point was blocked, so when Huron answered with a touchdown of their own just 16 seconds later, Dusza's kick gave the Tigers the lead. After its second touchdown for a 12-7 lead, SMCC wisely tried for a two-point conversion, but failed. Huron's second touchdown gave it a 14-12 lead. The Tigers' third touchdown brought the difference to two possessions, 21-12, at the half, instead of just one.
Dusza finished six of six on extra points. While they often go unheralded in pro and college play, at the high school level they should not be taken for granted.
While Dusza scores the points, the most impressive part of Huron's special teams Friday night specialized in stops.
Excluding one touchback, the Huron coverage team limited the Panthers to an average starting position of the 16.6. The Panthers' overall average starting position, including a fumble recovery on Huron's 18, was at SMCC's 23.2.
The Panthers' drives, and how they received the ball:
Quarter 1-9:03: Panthers' 26-yard line, interception
1-4:06: Huron's 18, fumble recovery
1-3:36: SMCC's 29, kickoff
2-8:15: SMCC's 20, failed FG attempt
2-4:58: SMCC's 20, kickoff
2-1:06: SMCC's 21, kickoff
3-11:54: SMCC's 19, kickoff
3-10:53: SMCC's 17, kickoff
3-3:45: SMCC's 8, punt
3-0:45: SMCC's 20, failed FG attempt
3-0:10: SMCC's 19, kickoff
4-7:53: SMCC's 18, kickoff
4-1:46: SMCC's 2, punt
The Panthers capitalized on their good starting position on the second drive, but for the rest of the their points, they had to drive the length of the field.
The return unit of Huron's special teams was strong as well, with the long returned mentioned in top play No. 2 above and a blocked punt by Aaron Casey deep in Panthers territory.
Panthers coach Ryan Wikel singled out the Tigers' special teams as the best in the area, and they proved him correct.