FINDLAY — Huron showed off its explosiveness in a big way Saturday night as the Tigers had three runs for over 50 yards.
But it was a sweet over-the-shoulder 43-yard catch by Nick Stauffer to start the fourth quarter that helped the Tigers pull off a 28-14 Division V, Region 16 quarterfinal win over Liberty-Benton.
Huron, which is 8-3, will play Loudonville (10-1) next Saturday at a site to be determined.
“We were within a score and told them we needed a big play to start the fourth quarter,” said Liberty-Benton coach Tim Nichols, whose team fell to 9-1. “They came up with that big play though.”
L-B scored with 1:44 left in the third period on Austin Combs’ one-yard run to pull the Eagles within 21-14.
Huron started its next drive at the 35 when the kickoff went out of bounds. The Tigers moved methodically to L-B’s 44 where they faced a third-and-3 to start the fourth quarter. Huron quarterback Cody Thompson threw a deep ball down the left sideline that Stauffer ran for a 43-yard gain to the one. Two plays later Thompson, who had 106 yards rushing and 97 passing, went in from a yard out to nail down the win.
“Thompson is a special player,” Huron coach Tony Legando said. “That’s why he is going to [the University of] Toledo.”
Thompson has run for over 1,000 yards and passed for over 1,500 this season.
Huron also used big plays on their first two scoring drives. Spencer Maddox went 52 yards on a jet sweep for the Tigers’ first score. Maddox had a 51-yard run later and finished the night with 102 yards on 3 carries.
Thompson burst for 74 yards early in the second quarter and that turned into a two-yard scoring burst by Tommy Borden. The Tigers tallied their final score on an 11-yard pass from Thompson to Zach Souter.
Huron gained 278 yards on the ground and totaled 375 yards against a Liberty-Benton defense that had allowed just 122 yards per game.
“Speed is hard to gauge on film but I thought we were fast but we were not as fast,” Nichols said.
L-B was in business right from the start when Huron coughed up the opening kickoff. It took the Eagles five plays to go 16 yards before Combs scampered in from two yards out.
Combs finished with 91 yards on 16 carries. The Eagles, who ran 66 offensive plays to Huron’s 44, gained just 151 yards on the ground a week after Huron had allowed two Clyde backs to gain 100 yards each.
L-B quarterback Nathan Craft completed 18 of 29 passes for 138 yards.
“Offensively we could move the ball but we’d get close to the red zone and struggle,” Nichols said.
The Eagles’ season was cut short a few weeks earlier than last season when L-B advanced to the state semifinals.
“We had the mindset to make a run deep into the the playoffs like last year, but we just did not get it done,” Nichols said.