JEFFERSON — Timothy Kinkopf got up and blocked the punt. The Jefferson football team was looking at a storybook ending.
But the Falcons came up one play short of beating Hubbard on Friday night as the Eagles walked away with a 21-16 win.
The Falcons (0-2, 0-2 Northeast 8) took over at Hubbard's 5-yard line with 1:02 to play after the block. But they gained just two yards on their first three plays.
Jefferson quarterback Grant Hitchcock's pass to Wade Woodworth was batted away at the goal line by Hubbard defensive back Joshua Ruban. Eagles QB Kobe Krisuk took a knee to run out the clock.
Friday's loss was a stark contrast from Jefferson's Week 1 loss to Niles. In that game, the Falcons kept the game close for a while, but the Red Dragons scored 21 points in the third quarter.
This time around, the Falcons stayed on the Eagles' tail feathers.
Krisuk found Brant Borawiec for an 11-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter. But the Falcons stepped up defensively. Harrison Woodworth sacked Hubbard's QB later in the quarter to get the Falcons on the board.
Jefferson took a 9-7 lead when Trenton Hodge made a diving catch in the end zone on a fade from Hitchcock. The second-quarter score was the Falcons' first touchdown of the season.
"I trust [Hodge] with everything," Hitchcock said. "I just throw to him whenever I need to."
However, Krisuk ran for a 29-yard score with four minutes left in the half to retake the lead. He added a 57-yard TD pass when Andrew Frank caught a slant and took it the distance.
Jefferson head coach Ed Rankin came out aggressive in the fourth quarter, going for it twice on fourth down. But the Falcons only converted one attempt.
Hitchcock added a 19-yard touchdown pass to Hodge, cutting the lead to 21-16. Hubbard went three-and-out on the next possession, which set up Kinkopf's block.
"We're gonna get things fixed and you're gonna see a much improved team going down to Struthers next week," Rankin said.
Rankin said he was proud of the way his team played against a larger Hubbard (2-0, 2-0 NE8) team.
"That's a perennial playoff contender," Rankin said. "I'm just kind of tired of the disrespect that our football players get, and our program. We ain't gonna take disrespect anymore. So we're coming to play."
Rankin said the other NE8 schools can make what they will of his comment, but it comes down to the mentality of his players.
"We gotta be dogs for sure. Underdogs," Hitchcock said. "Gotta have that mentality that we can hang with anybody."