Former Willoughby South running back Kareem Hunt shined in his National Football League debut, and on the strength of his three-touchdown performance, the Kansas City Chiefs earned a 42-27 upset win over the reigning Super Bowl champion New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium Thursday night.
Combined between rushing attempts and catches, Hunt turned 22 touches into 246 yards and three touchdowns after taking over the starting duties following Spencer Ware’s season-ending injury during the third week of the preseason.
On 17 carries, Hunt gained 148 yards and scored one touchdown with a long run of 58 yards. Additionally, Hunt turned five catches into 98 yards and two scores, including a 78-yard touchdown reception from veteran quarterback Alex Smith.
Cleveland native Kareem Hunt impressive in NFL debut
Although Hunt fumbled on his first NFL carry and the Chiefs’ first offensive play from scrimmage during the regular season, he more than made up for it later in the game.
On the Chiefs’ first scoring drive, Hunt had a pair of nine-yard carries. Then, late in the second quarter, Smith checked down to Hunt on the left side of the formation, and after securing the catch, the rookie rusher sprinted the final three yards into the end zone for his first career touchdown.
In the fourth quarter, the Chiefs faced a first and 10 from their own 21-yard line when Smith pitched the ball out left to Hunt. With the outside sealed by blocks from the left tackle and tight end, Hunt sprinted through the first two levels of defense and down the sideline for a 58-yard gain before being pushed out of bounds.
With 5:09 to play in the fourth quarter and the Chiefs clinging to a one-point lead, 28-27, Hunt took a pitch from Smith, ran toward the right sideline, stiff-armed a defender, and then, dove into the pylon in the corner of the end zone for the touchdown.
A former University of Toledo standout, Hunt was selected by the Chiefs with the No. 86 overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft.
A one-time Willoughby South star, Hunt rushed for 4,945 yards and 44 touchdowns on 782 career carries over his four-year run with the Rockets in the Mid-American Conference.
Hunt rushed for more than 850 yards in each of his four seasons, including a career-best 1,631 yards and 16 touchdowns as a sophomore, when he registered 163.1 yards per game and 8.0 yards per carry.
After being limited to nine games as a junior, where he still gained 973 yards and scored 12 touchdowns, Hunt punctuated his career with a 1,475-yard, 10-touchdown season in 2016.