NEW MANCHESTER — It wasn’t the four-hour trip to the top of the Northern Panhandle that did in Herbert Hoover, nor the early-game drizzle or the dozen penalties for 114 yards.
In the end, it was just too much Hunter Patterson.
Patterson, Oak Glen’s gifted senior runner-receiver, darted and dashed his way for five touchdowns Saturday afternoon as the Golden Bears stormed back into the Class AA semifinals with a 53-26 conquest of the visiting Huskies.
Golden Bears quarterback Nick Chaney completed 10 of 11 passes for 305 yards and four TDs, two each to Hunter Patterson and cousin Gage Patterson. Oak Glen (8-1), the No. 5 playoff seed, rolled up 612 total yards and instituted a running clock in the fourth quarter.
“We’re a momentum team,’’ said Oak Glen coach Ted Arneault, “and we’ve got some really explosive kids, and when they get going and they get out in space, they’re hard to stop. So it’s our job as coaches to get those kids in space as best we can so they can do that.’’
Hunter Patterson, who now has 28 touchdowns on the season, was the most explosive asset for the Golden Bears. He carried the ball eight times for 204 yards, including TD runs of 5, 67 and 75 yards, and caught four passes for 132 yards, with scoring receptions of 62 and 44 yards.
“He’s a great player,’’ said Hoover first-year coach Joey Fields, “and I told my coaches at the end it felt like it was 2012 and I had flashbacks to playing the Wayne Pioneers. They’ve got great players and you can’t do anything about it. But our guys fought hard.’’
The game was tied at 7 early on, but Oak Glen stormed into a 41-10 lead by halftime and added another just two snaps into the third quarter. At that point, the Golden Bears had run just 22 plays but had already racked up 409 yards and seven TDs and led 47-10 less than four minutes into the third quarter.
The play-action passes were especially fruitful for Oak Glen, with Chaney finding each Patterson on post pattern plays for long scores.
“They were playing the run very strong for us,’’ Arneault said, “and it allowed some play-action passes to open up. They had a good plan going forward to stop the buck sweep, and we were able to exploit some of their overstacking the box on certain sides to open up some big plays. It’s hard to execute play-action sometimes.’’
But it wasn’t so hard for the Golden Bears on Saturday.
“We had busted coverages,’’ Fields said, “and had our eyes in the backfield … coverage miscues we hadn’t had all year. But we continued to have the same penalties we have all year — just against a good team and then there’s less margin for error.’’
Senior quarterback Nick Grayam provided nearly all the offense for Hoover, carrying the ball 29 times for 100 yards and one touchdown and completing 13 of 26 passes for 230 yards and two touchdowns, hookups of 56 yards to Tyler Greer on a screen pass and 33 yards to Jacob Burns on a fly pattern down the sideline.
Other than Grayam, who would have had about 130 yards rushing if not for losses on quarterback sacks, the Huskies had 10 carries for 6 yards. Levi Paxton also booted a 25-yard field goal for No. 13 seed Hoover (6-3) and Burns finished with 86 yards on four receptions.
The Huskies were making their first postseason appearance since 2016.
“I told myself when I first got here, I wanted to be judged on improvement and not scores,’’ Fields said. “We ended up with a better team than we thought because of how they responded and their resiliency, and that’s the kind of guys we’ve got in that locker room.
We’re a little disappointed, but it’s only going to get better. We got seven guys back on offense and eight on defense and we’ve got to build this team. The reason they have a good team is that they have good players and they’re very, very well-coached, but they get good in January, February, March, April and that’s something we have to do to get to that level.’’