The Tigers have played all the top contenders in the Sandusky Bay Conference tough, but they have had little more to show for it.
They got a little reward Friday.
Justin Hicks picked up 148 yards on the ground and Brian Bollenbacher finished with a pair of short touchdown runs as Huron posted a 20-7 come-from-behind victory against Oak Harbor at Huron Memorial Stadium.
“We continue to practice hard, but I think our program is being tested,” Tigers coach Tony Legando said. “We like to think of our program as a success and we’re proud of that success, but it’s times like these that show what your program is all about.”
That program decided to grind it out against the Rockets on a cold and windy night at Kalahari Field.
Hicks had 17 carries, including a 52-yard scamper and a 3-yard touchdown, to lead Huron (4-4, 2-3), while senior Derek Dowell chipped in 82 yards on 18 carries. Bollenbacher was 1-of-3 passing for 7 yards, but also had touchdown runs of 2 and 3 yards.
“We had success running the ball, but then we probably got too one-dimensional,” Legando said. “We felt we could control the game with defense and field position, which isn’t always exciting, but it got the job done.”
The Tigers squandered a pair of scoring chances in the first quarter, failing on a fourth-and-4 at the Oak Harbor 24 and a fourth-and-3 at the Rockets’ 23.
Oak Harbor (2-6, 1-4) found a spark from the second stand and answered with a 14-play, 77-yard scoring drive that ate up over six minutes of the second quarter and ended with a 36-yard scoring strike to Zack Priesman from Steve Young.
The Rockets got the ball right back when Jerrod Blakley lost control of the ball after a 64-yard return of the ensuing kick and Kyle Mincheff recovered. But the Tigers forced an Oak Harbor punt three plays later and went to Hicks who responded with five straight runs for 49 yards, setting up the first Bollenbacher touchdown run.
Hicks continued to lead the way when Huron got the ball in the second half, running the 5-6 junior seven times for 81 yards with the final three giving the Tigers a 13-7 lead.
“He’s our little big man,” Legando said of Hicks. “A lot of little guys like that will usually take it outside, but he’s willing to take it right up the middle.”
The Tigers missed a chance to take control of the game after a Troy Delamatre interception when a 26-yard field goal attempt from Nico Samaniego sailed wide left. But they were able to cashed in on a Matt King fumble recovery as Bollenbacher scored from the two on a fourth-and-goal with 34 seconds remaining.
Blakely put the finishing touches on the game by picking off Young as time expired.
‘”Both teams played really hard,” Rockets coach Mike May said. “I’m really proud of our kids’ effort.
“These teams were kind of mirrors of each other. Their kids played hard and our kids hard. It was just a good high school football game.”
Jake Scott led Oak Harbor with 54 yards rushing on 21 carries while Young was 7-of-21 for 102 yards, the touchdown pass to Priesman and two interceptions.