HUDSON, Ohio — There will be no four-peat of reaching the Division I state football semifinals for Whitmer.
A familiar playoff foe, Hudson, assured that Saturday night in a first-round playoff matchup by defeating the Panthers in a 31-7 victory.
Whitmer, which was state runner-up last year, was held scoreless for three quarters and limited to 97 total yards.
"It just wasn't our night," Whitmer coach Jerry Bell said. "It seemed like we struggled all night offensively and our defense rose to the occasion when they needed to.
"Hats off to them because their defense played unbelievably. They were confusing us up front. They were angling and slanting and we couldn't get a bead on what they were doing. Our offensive line had trouble taking care of them."
Marcus Elliott provided Whitmer’s only highlight when he maneuvered an 86-yard kickoff return for a touchdown with 10:08 left in the game.
"I saw a lot of blue [jerseys] and I just ran away," said Elliott said, who did it after a hand-off from Keenan Baker on a reverse.
The Explorers (10-1), who will face St. Ignatius next, struck first for a 7-0 lead when quarterback Mitchell Guadagni scored on a 58-yard keeper with 5:07 left in the opening quarter.
Pierce Royster nailed a 24-yard field goal to make it 10-0 with 1:58 to play in the second quarter. That proved to be the game-winning score since the Hudson defense didn't allow Whitmer's offense to find the end zone.
"The defensive staff had a really good game plan and we did what we wanted to do," Hudson coach Ron Wright said. "They're a running team and there's so much misdirection and we wanted to take that away and we did."
The two teams met last year in the playoffs with the Panthers prevailing 39-28.
"We ended up making it into the playoffs and that's a lot to hang our hats on," Bell said. "For the way our season went a lot of people doubted if we'd even make the playoffs. We got in here."
The Panthers (6-5) sputtered trying to create some consistency on offense.
Whitmer quarterback Matt Winzeler completed 9 of 20 passes for 84 yards. Chase Bodeman led Whitmer's ground game with 29 yards rushing on 11 carries.
Whitmer's best possession before halftime was actually its first of the night. The Panthers drove into Explorers territory only for the drive to end with Hudson forcing a fumble on a fourth-down play and Hudson defensive end Grant Elffers recovering the ball.
Whitmer defensive back Matthew Sutter was tested by Guadagni and Hudson receivers throughout the night, but the Panthers senior defensive back held strong and intercepted a pass late in the first half to kill a Hudson drive.
The Explorers remained in control in the second half and kept the Panthers offense searching for a way to get going against a staunch defensive front.
Guadagni, who rushed for 151 yards on 18 carries, made it 17-0 with a six-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.
The Explorers eventually added to their lead when Guadagni (11-20-124) found Colton Whited for a 21-yard touchdown completion to make it 24-0 with 10:31 left in the game.
Guadagni and Whited teamed up for a 24-yard touchdown completion a few minutes later to give Hudson a 31-7 lead.Contact Donald Emmons at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 419-724-6302 or on Twitter @DemmonsBlade.
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