Tyler Ruark has had much impact as a kicker at Hereford. Last night at CCBC –Essex, he made sure everyone knew who he was.
Ruark kicked a 20-yard field goal in overtime to rally unranked Hereford (1-1) from a 14-0 deficit and a 17-14 victory over Eastern Tech.
"We never gave up," said an elated Ruark about his teammates. "Our leaders stepped up for us, and today it was my turn."
Vince DePaola led the Bulls with 59 yards on 20 carries. Marquisee Bannister led Eastern Tech with 83 yards on 13 carries, with 44 yards coming on one play.
These Bulls are not the Bulls of the past. The team returns one starter from last year's 10-2 state semifinals, and the starting quarterback is out with mono. Don't worry about the style points, Hereford is winning on hustle and desire, and overcoming adversity.
After watching Eastern Tech's Bob Marshall catch a three-yard fade in the end zone to give the Mavericks a 14-0 lead with 1:49 left in the first half, the Bulls appeared to be done. Coach Steve Turnbaugh replaced quarterback Ryan Jones with fellow sophomore Jay Patti to start the second half, and gradually things started happening.
The Bulls halved the lead on the first play of the fourth quarter, using a Tim Bristol sweep off of right tackle to gain 24 yards and cap a seven play, 50-yard drive.
Hereford's defense set up the other touchdown. With Eastern Tech facing a third and 18 from midfield, Mavericks quarterback Brad Hager threw an interception to Hereford's Will Bittner. The Bulls took over at the Tech 47, and scored three players later on Isaiah Taylor's reception of a Patti screen pass from 42 yards out with 5:48 remaining.
In overtime, the Bulls defense made another big play, on second and goal from the five, Hereford's Austin Brown fell on a fumbled exchange between Hager and Bannister. After three running plays, it was time for Ruark's heroics.
"We were kind of flat in the first half, and we knew we had to step it us," said DePaola. "We never gave up. Tim's [Bristol] run gave us a spark, and then Isaiah made a play. We just came and fought, and it worked out for us."
Hereford 17, Eastern Tech 14, OT
H 0 0 7 7 3-- 17
ET 0 14 0 0 0 -- 14
ET -White 11 pass from Hager (Bosserman kick)
ET – Marshall 3 pass from Hager (Bosserman kick)
H – Bristol 24 run (Ruark kick)
H – Taylor 42 pass from Patti (Ruark kick)
H – FG 20 Ruark