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Hall’s Collin Aimone (No. 24) runs the ball Friday as St. Bede’s Justin Shaw tries to wrap him up during the Red Devils’ 27-20 victory in a Three Rivers Conference South Division game in Spring Valley. NewsTribune photo/Chris Yucus
St. Bede’s Justinâ€ˆShaw (center) leaps for yards as Hall’s Nathanâ€ˆTonozzi (No. 54) closes in on the play Friday during the Red Devils’ 27-20 victory in a Three Rivers Conference Southâ€ˆDivision game inâ€ˆSpring Valley. NewsTribune photo/Chris Yucus
Randy Tieman didn’t want to go as far to say the Hall football team is back following Friday’s thrilling and emotional 27-20 victory over rival St. Bede.
Collin Aimone just made sure the Red Devils are close.
Like a win away from being playoff-eligible close.
The senior Aimone had a career game as he caught two touchdown passes, scored the go-ahead fourth-quarter touchdown and intercepted a pair of passes, including the game-clinching interception with a little more than a minute left to seal Hall’s Three Rivers Conference South Division Homecoming victory.
“We haven’t seen a crowd here like this and this excited in a long time,” said Tieman, Hall’s second-year coach. “Are we back? Not all the way, but we plan to be by the end of the season.”
With the victory, Hall won its second straight game and improved to 4-3 on the season.
With two weeks left, the Red Devils need to win either Week 8 at home against Kewanee or Week 9 at home against Princeton to become playoff eligible. A win over both would clinch a playoff berth.
“We told the kids that these are wins that make the program,” Tieman said. “Like (defensive coordinator Adam) Meyer said (in the post-game huddle), everybody waits for a team to have a win like this, to step up and do this and make the program roll.”
On Friday, Aimone helped to make the Red Devils roll.
“Collin had another great game,” Tieman said. “It’s like three weeks in a row that he’s stepped up for us and done some really good things. We’re putting him in a little more on defense, and he’s a playmaker. That kid can just play.”
On Friday, he was the difference.
“This was huge. We all came to play like this was the state finals,” Aimone said. “The goal in mind was just to go for it, bring the fans back in the stands and start it up again.”
The Red Devils started early when running back Jacob Byczynski threw a 41-yard halfback pass on the game’s first play.
The play sparked Hall (4-3, 2-2 TRC South) as sophomore running back Chris Hammonds scored on a 2-yard, fourth-down run to give the Red Devils a 6-0 lead with 8:43 left in the first quarter.
The Bruins (4-3, 1-3 TRC South) responded in the second quarter on Michael Bellino’s 2-yard TD run, and then Jack Brady threw a 6-yard TD to junior running back Justin Shaw to make it 15-6 with 7:22 left in the second quarter.
Down, Hall was far from out as Taggart Venegas found Aimone for a 23-yard score with 3:03 left in the second quarter to pull the Red Devils to 15-12 at intermission. After Hall received possession to start the second half, the Red Devils took back the lead as Venegas threw a 45-yard touchdown to Aimone to give Hall a 19-15 cushion.
SBA crept closer when a Hall punt snap went out of the end zone for a safety to make it 19-17 with 30.9 seconds left in the third quarter.
The Bruins then took the kickoff to the Red Devil 16-yard line but couldn’t score as the Hall defense made one of many stands when Matt Szczepaniak’s 31-yard field goal missed.
However, on SBA’s next drive, Szczepaniak got a second chance and hit a 22-yard field goal to give the Bruins a 20-19 lead.
Hall countered quickly as it drove 32 yards on six plays before Aimone went left on a jet sweep, turned up field, avoided tacklers and scampered 26 yards for the go-ahead score.
A two-point conversion run by Hall fullback Aaron Kerr gave the Red Devils a 27-20 lead with 5:34 to go.
Following the score, the Hall defense stood its ground as it forced a three-and-out by St. Bede with 4:32 left.
The Red Devils then chewed up 2:27 of the clock and all three SBA timeouts before they punted back to the Bruins.
Starting as its 27-yard line with 1:55 to go, St. Bede slowly moved up field but faced a third-and-10 at the Hall 27-yard line.
However, Aimone stepped in front of a Brady pass intended for Sam Halm to end the drive.
“I haven’t played defense that much, but they switched me so that I would guard (Halm),” Aimone said. “The first time they threw it to him, I stayed back because I wasn’t going to get beat and he did a quick out and went out of bounds. The second time, I was waiting for it. The quarterback rolled and I read it and he just threw it right to me.”
Venegas ended 10-for-22 for 142 yards, two touchdowns and an interception, while Brady finished 10-for-25 for 129 yards, a touchdown and three interceptions.
“We made too many mistakes,” SBA coach John Bellino said. “We have two more games to play, and we have to find a way to quit making mistakes. We’re past the being-young stage now.”
Note: Hall rolled to a 56-12 running-clock victory in the sophomore contest.
Jared Bell can be reached at 220-6938, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @NT_SportsJared.
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