HURON — It didn’t take Elyria Catholic junior quarterback Jeremy Holley long to prove all the preseason hype was legitimate.
Holley connected for a pair of 80-plus yard touchdown passes in the first half and ended up throwing for 367 yards and four touchdowns in the Panthers’ 30-27 season-opening road win over Huron at Memorial Stadium.
Holley took control of the game early. After the Tigers marched 67 yards with the opening kickoff to take a 7-0 lead on a Cody Thompson-to-Trae Graham 19-yard touchdown pass, Holley got the Panthers into the end zone just two plays later.
On second-and-7 from his own 19 he lofted a perfect pass over Jacob Moore’s left shoulder. Moore pulled it in one-handed at the Huron 40 and cruised into the end zone untouched.
Jacob Moore’s conversion failed, but the Panthers (1-0) were within a point.
The Tigers took a 14-6 lead at the 6:38 mark of the first quarter when Aaron Driftmyer caught a 50-yard touchdown pass from Thompson, but Holley rallied Elyria Catholic. First he capped a nine-play, 65-yard drive with a 15-yard touchdown strike to Connor Hrobat.
Connor Riddell pulled in the 2-point conversion pass from Holley to tie the score at 14.
Holley then opened the second quarter with a 26-yard drive that led to a 30-yard Moore field goal that gave the Panthers their first lead at 17-14.
With 5:15 left in the second quarter, Holley gave the Panthers some breathing room heading into halftime, hooking up with Hrobat on an 80-yard touchdown strike. The conversion failed, but EC led 23-14 heading into the third quarter.
Cody Thompson pulled the Tigers within two points when he ran 64 yards with an interception return to cut the EC lead to 23-21, but Holley was able to hook up with Conner Riddle on a 48-yard touchdown strike late in the third quarter to give the Panthers a cushion.
Huron cut the lead to 30-27 on a Zach Souter 3-yard touchdown catch late in the game, but could not score again.
“It was a tremendous back-and-forth game,” Panthers coach Mike Polevacik said. “They had the lead early, then we got the lead in the second quarter. From there it was us just hanging on to the lead for the rest of the game. I was nervous the whole time because I knew this game was going to be a dogfight.”
The Tigers had two shots to score late in the fourth quarter, but came up empty on fourth-and-21 from their own 21 and watched as a Hail Mary fell to the turf as the clock expired.
Holley, who added 31 rushing yards to his 367 through the air, knows his Panthers claimed a big win.
“Huron’s a great team and we have the utmost respect for them,” he said. “Our keys to this game were to run the ball and have explosive passing plays. I definitely think we did that tonight.”
Polevacik knows a win against the Tigers at Memorial Stadium is a true accomplishment, and one that could pay big dividends down the line for the Panthers.
“It says a lot about us that we came to Huron and won,” he said. “We’re both in the same region and we hope we can play them somewhere down the line again. Winning a game like this helps get you to Week 11. Beating a quality opponent on the road is a big win for us because we know they’re going to win some games. That means computer points for us.”
RECEIVING BAD NEWS: Huron lost both starting wide receivers early in the game. Trae Graham left in the first quarter with a broken arm while Driftmyer had to leave early in the second with a knee injury.
Contact Mike Perry at 329-7135 or ctsportschroniclet.com.
Elyria Catholic 30, Huron 27
Elyria Catholic 14 9 7 0 — 30
Huron 14 0 7 6 — 27
H — Trae Graham, 19 psss from Cody Thompson (Sam Danillo kick)
EC — Jacob Moore, 81 pass from Jeremy Holley (run failed)
H — Aaron Driftmyer, 50 pass from Thompson (Danillo kick)
EC — Connor Hrobat, 15 pass from Holley (Conner Riddell pass from Holley)
EC — FG Jacob Moore 30
EC — Hrobat, 80 pass from Holley (pass failed)
H — Thompson 64 interception return (Danillo kick)
EC — Riddell, 48 pass from Holley (Moore kick)
H — Zach Souter, 3 pass from Thompson (kick failed)
First downs 18 22
— by rushing 6 7
— by passing 11 7
— by penalty 1 8
Yards rushing 110 169
Yards passing 367 214
Total offense 477 383
Passes att./comp. 31/15 31/17
Intercepted by 0 2
Fumbles/lost 3/1 2/1
Penalties/yards 11/130 3/35
RUSHING — (EC) Darian Justin Taylor 14-70, Jerot Schill 1-(-2), Connor Hrobat 1-10, Jeremy Holley 12-31. (H) Dominic Maschari 12-74, Cody Thompson 15-75, Spencer Maddox 1-8, Derek Daigle 1-8, Jacob Ernst 1-4.
PASSING — (EC) Holley 17-31-367-4-2. (H) Thompson 15-31-214-3-0.
RECEIVING — (EC) Hrobat 7-144, Moore 2-93, Riddell 2-94, Taylor 4-42, Ian Kovacs 1-11, Will Washington 1-5. (H) Driftmyer 2-98, Tyler Graham 1-19, Maschari 4-44, Zach Claus 1-11, Ryan VAnCauwenbergh 1-2, Ernst 2-17, Souter 1-3, Colin McCready 2-24.