PERRY TWP. In a game with more big plays than Keith Boedicker has fingers and toes, it was perhaps one of the shortest gains that proved the biggest for his Perry Panthers Friday night at Perry Stadium.
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Leading just 42-41 and facing fourth-and-2 at Hoover’s 46 with 7:45 left, Perry’s JoJo Tayse busted off right tackle with the snap on a fake punt. When he was finally stopped, Tayse was 9 yards downfield, lying on the field with a cramp, but the Panthers had a key first down. Four plays later, quarterback Adron Bealer found tight end Jake West for a 19-yard touchdown pass and Hayden Smith’s point-after gave Perry a 49-41 lead with 5:49 left. The Panthers held on from there for a wild 56-48 victory to move to 3-2 overall and 1-0 in the Federal League.
• Highlights from the Hoover-Perry offensive explosion can be seen on:
“Nobody could stop anybody and we knew we had to take advantage of every opportunity,” Boedicker said. “I’m so proud of our kids. We reacted so well to sudden change all night. We work on that stuff all night and it was just an opportune time to do it.
“What can you say about Adron Bealer, JoJo Tayse, Devon Allen, Braxton Berry. There are a lot of MVPs in this game. I’m just exhausted right now.”
Bealer was nothing short of sensational, as the senior completed 15 of 18 passes for 237 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions. Allen caught six passes for 92 yards and two touchdowns, while Tayse racked up 64 yards on 14 attempts.
Berry had the biggest rushing numbers of the night, 211 yards and three TDs on just 17 carries. His 77-yard dash with 3:25 remaining put Perry up 56-41. The play came just two snaps after Perry’s Eric Liebler intercepted a Hoover pass near the goal line, the only turnover either defense produced on a night of unstoppable offense.
Perry finished with 582 yards offense, while Hoover racked up 459. Hoover quarterback Dom Iero was 21 of 30 for 267 yards and four scores. Austin Feinberg caught 10 passes for 140 yards and two TDs. Iero’s 21-yard strike to Alex Binnie with 1:43 left brought Hoover to within 56-48. Hoover’s attempt at an onside kick failed, and Perry killed the clock to drop the Vikings to 3-2, 0-2.
“We had a great week of practice and things felt like they were clicking from the beginning tonight,” Bealer said. “Even though we lost last week (41-21 to Massillon) we came out of that game with a lot of confidence.”
Hoover’s biggest lead came at 28-20, but Perry strung together two scores in the final 70 seconds of the half that proved critical.
First Bealer hit Allen for a 20-yard score on a fourth-and-5 play. The two hooked up on the two-point pass to tie matters at 28-28. After holding Hoover to a three-and-out — the Vikings’ only punt of the game — Bealer drove the Panthers 76 yards in just four plays and 21 seconds. The big plays were back-to-back completions to Brenton Neira, the first covering 22 yards. The second was a 42-yard scoring pass where Neira raced untouched down the near sideline.
“We practice that stuff all the time,” Boedicker said of the quick drive. “We knew if we could get up at half and then take the second-half kickoff and go down and score that would be huge.”
The Panthers did exactly that by driving 69 yards in 12 plays to open the third quarter. Bealer capped the drive by pouncing on a fumble in the end zone, and Smith’s PAT put the Panthers up 42-28 with 7:01 left in the third.
Hoover looked ready to tie it when Iero hit Feinberg from 14 yards out with 9:52 left. A high snap on the extra point led to it being blocked, and Perry led 42-41. The Vikings would get no closer.
The first half was fast-break football at its finest most frenetic. Perry scored five touchdowns on five possessions, while Hoover punted just once. Bealer couldn’t miss, as he completed 13-of-15 passes for 212 yards and three touchdowns against no interceptions. The Panthers had drives both long (12 plays) and short (four plays twice and one two-play drive.
After Iero hit Luke Grandjean for a 5-yard touchdown and a 21-14 Hoover lead, Perry responded in short order with Berry’s 44-yard scoring dash on its second play after the kickoff. The point-after was missed, though, and Hoover led 21-20.
It became 28-20 Vikings when Xavier Hogan unleashed a dazzling 40-yard touchdown run where he broke up the left sideline, reversed field to the right and raced untouched for the score.