LAKESIDE MARBLE-HEAD – The Hilltop Cadets have been affiliated with the Toledo Area Athletic Conference since 2005. After eight years, the Danbury Lakers of the TAAC have a streak running against the Cadet Cadre. In eight games, Danbury had yet to crack the win column against the running red.
On November 1, Hilltop made the arduous trek to the Lake Erie shores of Ottawa County for their annual tilt with the Lakers. Looking to win back-to-back games for the first time this season, the Cadets once again dug themselves into a deep hole early. This time around, Danbury was able to hold off a late Hilltop charge, as the Lakers got their first ever win over the Cadets, 38-35.
By the time that Quinn Smith hit Chad Champion with a 38-yard touchdown pass with 6:34 left in the first half, the Lakers were already up by two touchdowns. Danbury scored again with 3:36 left in the half to take a 21-7 lead into the intermission.
The Lakers added two third period touchdowns to open a 35-7 lead. The hometown faithful might have sensed a blowout in the making, but the Cadets saw something different…the Lakers were dropping anchor way too soon.
The Cadet salvos began to hit home just prior to the end of the third period as Smith and Champion connected on a touchdown pass to bring Hilltop to within three touchdowns at 35-14. The final frame had the Lakers’ fan base looking for their Maalox.
Smith found Austin Batt for a 13-yard strike with 10:59 left in the game to close the deficit to two touchdowns. Two minutes later Smith and Champion hooked up again to bring Hilltop to within a touchdown at 35-28. All that was needed was for the Cadet defense to shut down the Lakers, but they were not up to the task.
What proved to be the insurance points came from the foot of James Dorko, as he connected on a 20-yard field goal with 4:20 left in the game to reestablish Danbury’s double-digit lead at 38-28. With 2:12 left in the contest, Hilltop drew closer when Smith called his own number and ran six yards for a touchdown. Trailing by three with all three time-outs and better than two minutes to play, the Cadets tried to get the ball back via the onside kick.
Danbury was ready though, and they smothered the ball to retain possession and run out the clock.
Smith had the most prolific night of his young career, going 12 of 30 for 168 yards, four scores and a pick. Miklo Abner completed his only pass for 18 yards.
Champion hauled in 7 passes for 111 yards and 3 touchdowns; Smith caught one for 18, and Logan Brooker grabbed one for 16 yards. Abner caught a pass for 14 yards, Zack VanDyke had 2 for 14, and Batt snared a pass for 13 yards and a score.
Abner ran the ball 7 times for 52 yards, Smith gained the same amount and a score on 11 tries, and Champion went twice for 5 yards. Champion had 17 stops on defense, including 1.5 for loss. Abner had 2.5 hits for loss with a sack, Brooker got six stops, three for a loss, and Mikel Burlew had a pickoff for the Cadets who close out their 2013 campaign with a 2-8 / 1-6 mark.