LAKE TWP.: Senior running back Matt Blasiole did a little bit of everything Friday night in leading Lake to a 26-14 victory over North Canton Hoover at Blue Streaks Stadium.
Blasiole carried 37 times for 195 yards and two touchdowns, along with a kick-return score, to lift Lake (3-3, 1-2) to its first Federal League victory.
Blasiole also tied 2011 Lake graduate Jimmy Luther as the school’s all-time leading rusher with 3,073 career yards.
“It does feel good, but it can’t beat a win,” said Blasiole, a 6-foot, 190-pound battering ram. “Winning as a team is way better than any individual standing.”
After back-to-back last-minute losses, the Blue Streaks were desperate to start the second half of the season on a positive note.
“We needed one,” Lake first-year coach Dan DeGeorge said. “Nothing was easy about that game. Our kids played real hard and I’m proud of them.”
For all of Blasiole’s more than 3,000 yards, few have been any more important than one he gained on a crucial fourth down late in the game.
Hoover senior quarterback Luke Grandjean was hot, bringing the Vikings back from a 19-point deficit to 19-14 in the fourth quarter.
Lake needed a time-consuming drive when it took possession with 6:30 left.
Facing fourth-and-1 at the Hoover 15 with 3:30 to go, Blasiole picked up a fumbled snap and scrambled for the first down.
“I saw the ball on the ground and I was like, ‘Holy crap!’ We have to get this first down,” he said. “I just saw it, picked it up, and did my best to get the first down.”
Blasiole then sealed the win with a 2-yard touchdown run.
“There was a mishap with the snap,” DeGeorge said. “It was right in front of Blaz and he picked it up and had the smarts to get the first down. That’s the kind of player he is. That’s why he’s one of our senior captains. And that’s why he’s one of the best players in Stark County.”
Leading 6-0 at half, Blasiole took the second-half kickoff and rambled 95 yards to the end zone. He spun out of one tackle and side stepped one more Viking near the 10.
Then after a roughing-the-kicker penalty enabled Lake to keep the ball, the Blue Streaks completed an eight-minute, 75-yard drive, capped by Blasiole’s 3-yard scoring run. Lake led 19-0 with 1:21 left in the third quarter.
Coach Don Hertler, Jr.’s Hoover (1-5, 1-2) team answered when Grandjean caught a rhythm, after passing for 9 yards in the first half.
Grandjean directed touchdown drives of 64 and 75 yards to rally the Vikings (1-5, 1-2). He finished 14-of-24 passing for 161 yards, including a 5-yard scoring toss to senior Alex Binnie.
Grandjean also had a 1-yard touchdown run with 6:36 remaining to make it a one-score game.
Coming off an emotional 49-13 win over Perry one week ago, after the passing of Hall of Fame coach Don Hertler, Sr., the Vikings struggled offensively in the first half, losing two fumbles and narrowly missing a 29-yard field goal.
Hoover’s first fumble came on the game’s second play from scrimmage and was scooped up by Lake senior Ryan Delagrange, who ran it back 24 yards for a touchdown.
Lake had multiple opportunities to expand on its early 6-0 lead, but the Blue Streaks stalled on downs at the Hoover 4 and again at the Hoover 32.
Read the high school blog at http://www.ohio.com/preps.