By DOUG DONNELLY
ADRIAN – Hudson scored 28 unanswered second-half points and stopped the Whiteford offense at the 3-yard line in the final seconds of the game to beat the Bobcats 28-22 and advance to next week’s Division 8 state championship game.
Whiteford led 22-0 at halftime, but Hudson scored quickly to start the second half, recovered the onside kick and scored again three minutes later then tied the game with 3:17 left in the third quarter. All three touchdowns were scored by Bronson Marry, on runs of 66, 8 and 8 yards.
Hudson’s game-winning drive came with 5:53 left when Bronson Marry scored again, this time from 11 yards, climaxing a three-play, 29-yard drive for the win.
“It was too even teams, just two different halves,” Hudson coach Dan Rogers said. “I think in the second half our offense settled in. Bronson Marry ran well and our offensive line did a nice job. We kept playing and kept battling. That’s what you do. Never stop playing.”
The Bobcats got the ball back with 5:53 left at its own 35, and drove to the Hudson 8-yard line. Bobcat quarterback Shea Ruddy scrambled on a fourth-and-six for five yards with 1.9 seconds left. A Nick Kopin tackle ended the Bobcat drive and chances for a last-second touchdown.
Whiteford coach Jason Mensing said he was hoping Ruddy would get the first down and leave enough time to clock the ball to stop the clock and get one more play.
“We took three shots at the end zone,” Mensing said. “The hope was we could get a first down, kill the clock and have another shot at the end zone. We fell short.”
Ruddy said he had his eyes on the end zone.
“I was thinking just get to the end zone,” he said. “I wasn’t sure how much time there was left. Just came up a little short.”
The Bobcats went 22-0 early. Ruddy completed a 58-yard touchdown pass to Cole Giesige on the third play of the game to put the Bobcats in front, then Ruddy scored from 25 yards out later in the first quarter for a 14-0 Whiteford lead. Levi Hillard bulled into the end zone from 26 yards out with 10:13 left in the first half, but the Bobcats wouldn’t score again.
“They figured out a couple of keys we were using and took advantage of that,” Mensing said. “They got the momentum, then that onside kick was a big play. Once they had that momentum, we were fighting to get back. I knew if we could drive down and get a score we would be fine, but we couldn’t do that.
“In the second half we just didn’t make enough plays.”
Whiteford finished with 365 yards of total offense, most of it by Ruddy. He rushed for 127 yards and completed seven passes for 169 more. Giesige caught three passes for 116 yards and Jack Andrews three for 53.
Marry led all rushers with 131 yards on the ground on 15 attempts while Kopin had 86 yards on 14 carries. Kopin had 11 tackles, two interceptions and a tackle for loss. Aiden Barrett had a fumnle recovery for the Tigers, who improved to 13-0 on the season and will play Beal City at 10 a.m. Friday at Ford Field for the Division 8 state championship.
“It’s an honor to play for the state title,” said Hudson linebacker Payton Rogers. “I’m so thankful for this group of teammates. It’s awesome. We never gave up, we just kept fighting all game.”
Whiteford (11-2) graduates just five seniors, including Andrews, Giesige, Hillard, Ty Ruddy and Noah Bauman. Bauman ended his career with a team-high 7 tackles and a fumble recovery.
Hudson 28, Whiteford 22
W – Cole Giesige 58 pass from Shea Ruddy (Giesige pass from S. Ruddy), 10:42
W – S. Ruddy 25 run (run failed), 3:55
W – Levi Hillard 26 run (S. Ruddy run), 10:13
H – Bronson Marry 66 run (run failed), 11:15
H – B. Marry 8 run (Ethan Harris pass from Kannon Marry), 8:33
H – B. Marry 8 run (B. Marry run), 3:17
H – B. Marry 11 run (run failed), 5:53
RUSHING – Whiteford: S. Ruddy 22-127, Hillard 6-36, Giesige 10-16, Iott 4-13, Knaggs 3-4, totals 45-196; Hudson: B. Marry 15-131, Kopin 14-86, K. Marry 2-1, Akers 4-1, Strodtman 1-(minus)-2, totals 37-217.
PASSING – Whiteford: S. Ruddy 7-18-2 169 yards, Hillard 0-1-0, T. Ruddy 0-1-0. Hudson: Arredondo 1-6-0 10 yards, K. Marry 1-3-0 1 yard.
RECEIVING – Whiteford: Giesige 3-116, J. Andrews 3-53, R. Ruddy 1-0. Hudson: Strodtman 1-10, Kopin 1-1.