Snider's Christian Covington breaks through Homestead's defense Friday night at Spuller Stadium. (Photos by Brett Luke | The Journal Gazette)
Snider's Andrew McCrady brushes off Homestead's Jake Archbold during Friday night's Class 6A sectional semifinal.
Saturday, October 28, 2017 1:00 am
Snider 37 Homestead 0
Panthers dominate Spartans
74-yard touchdown on opening kickoff sets tone in blowout
MARK SCHUTTE | For The Journal Gazette
Snider's first-ever playoff game in Class 6A will go down as one of its most impressive in its long tournament history.
The second-ranked Panthers (10-0) dominated every facet of the game in a message-sending 37-0 victory over No. 9 Homestead (8-2) on Friday at Spuller Stadium.
Snider, a two-time state champion that moved into 6A this year, will go for its 11th straight sectional title and 26th overall Friday when it hosts Carroll, which defeated Northrop 42-34 on Friday. Snider demolished the Chargers 69-7 on Aug. 25.
In the rematch, it will be difficult for the Panthers to match the improvement they showed in their second meeting against the Spartans.
When the teams met Sept. 16 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Snider pulled away for a 52-31 victory but discovered many flaws in its game – most notably on a defense that allowed Homestead senior quarterback Jiya Wright to run for four touchdowns and gain 367 in total offense.
Wright's numbers in the rematch were just as eye-opening – but for a different reason.
Snider's defensive linemen had the Northern Illinois commit running for his life all night, and he often didn't get away. Wright was sacked seven times and threw four interceptions, including two to junior Ethan Hoover.
The first two interceptions, by seniors Lawrence Johnson and Johnnell Hogue, came on Homestead's first two possessions, deep in Snider's territory.
Wright had 42 yards rushing, with a long of just 11 yards, and threw for 145 yards
Did the Panthers enter with a chip on their shoulder?
“It was a huge chip,” Johnson said. “We knew that if we didn't come out and play our best, we would be turning our stuff in. We knew Jiya was a great player, so we had to try our best and then give it to him every play.”
The effort left Snider coach Kurt Tippmann praising everyone from his coaching staff and players to the ball boys, who are his two youngest sons.
“We just worked in unison, and it's a thing of beauty when the defense works like that,” Tippmann said. “And they trust each other and they rely on each other to do their job so that I can do my job better, and that's the improvement.
“ When we played Homestead the first game, they just exposed a lot of things we weren't doing well. Even some games after that.
“Credit to our coaching staff. I don't think there's anybody that works harder than our guys and it's just seeing what we need to get better at and then coaching the kids. And credit to the kids, responding to the coaching, giving their best effort and we saw improvement.”
It was Hoover who got things going for the Panthers on the opening kickoff. He took the short kick at the 26-yard line, ran up the middle behind a block and raced 74 yards for a 7-0 lead 14 seconds into the game.
“I just ran up the middle, our guys blocked well, a big open hole, made a cut and we were good,” Hoover said.
Senior Christian Covington, who ran for 196 yards and five touchdowns in the first game against Homestead, finished with 138 yards and two touchdowns Friday, including a 28-yard run to make it 14-0. Jack James added the first of three field goals to make it 17-0.
The Panthers made it 24-0 at the half when sophomore Michael Ledo scored on a 30-yard pass from senior Michael Haupert with six seconds to go.
James kicked two field goals and Covington added a 4-yard scoring run in the second half, leaving just the question of whether or not the Panthers could record a shutout.
Fittingly, Hoover recovered a fumble at the Snider 35-yard line on Homestead's last possession.
“They did a great job,” said Homestead coach Chad Zolman, whose team lost to Snider for the seventh straight time.
“They pressured us up front all night with a four-man rush. When you can do that and play coverage; ... we marched to the red zone several times and came away with nothing, so that was part of it too. My hat's off to Snider, they're a good football squad.”