Defense kept the Kenston football team in the game, but the Bombers couldn't quite get going offensively in a 17-14 loss to Hudson on Friday night in Hudson.
First-year coach Jeff Grubich led Kenston as a head coach for the first time.
"It was a good game in terms of both sides being competitive," Grubich said. "It was a lot of fun. We competed for four quarters.
"The defense played a whale of a game. We kept their big playmakers in check. I couldn't be happier."
The Explorers led, 7-0, Joe Tomcufcik caught a 15-yard touchdown pass from DarrylRichards to tie the game.
Hudson scored the next 10 points for a 17-7 lead in the fourth quarter.
The Bombers got their second touchdown when Richards scored on a 14-yard run to pull Kenston within a field goal.
Kenston missed a field goal with about 3:00 left to play. The Bombers got the ball back with 1:10 in the game, but advanced only as far as the Hudson 30 before time ran out.
"Our inexperienced showed in the fourth quarter," Grubich said.
Andrew Soltay made his first start as a linebacker as the Bombers have switched to a 3-4 defense. Soltay started as a defensive back last season. It's safe to say, at least after one game, that the change was good for him as Soltay led the Bombers with 14 tackles. Fellow linebackers Adam Gray (10 tackles) and Ryan Malik also played very well.
Grubich was asked if it was the Explorers' defense or trouble running a new offense that was the biggest hurdle for Kenston's playmakers.
"It was a combination of both," Grubich said. "Going up against Hudson, they were very prepared for us and the learning curve."
Grubich was asked to grade Richards' performance.
"I would say low C," Grubich said. "He made some plays with his feet, but plays needed to be made with his arm that are still out there. He continues to improve. The sky's the limit."
Richards was making his first varsity start at quarterback. He's being recruited by Division I schools as a receiver.
Running back Nick Lombardy ran for more than 100 yards for Kenston.
Kenston will now face Chardon at 7 p.m. Friday at home. The Hilltoppers defeated West Geauga, 41-12.
"That offense is impressive," Grubich said. "They run the wing-T to perfection and their defense runs to the football.
"We have to make huge strides from this week to next week. We're going to have an intense week of practice to make sure we get better."