Ohio Posts A Win At OVAC
There’s a lot of pageantry that surrounds the Rudy Mumley OVAC All-Star Football Game.
The relationships, friendships, and memories will forever reign. But, in the end, Sunday night’s 69th annual game proved what it’s all about on the field.
And it was a pair of defensive plays by Ohio’s Chris Littell and Dalton Secrest that will forever be etched into the memories of the crowd at Wheeling Island Stadium that allowed Ohio to hold on for a thrilling 27-26 victory.
“This was a total team effort,” Littell-a standout at Shadyside-said inside an elated Ohio lockerroom. “I was the defensive captain and just got to be one of the many guys who stepped up and made a play.”
It was a classic tale of two halves. Ohio dominated the first half and appeared to be on its way to posting a rout when it built a 27-7 lead midway through the second quarter and just pounced on a West Virginia fumble.
The momentum shifted drastically, however, when Madonna’s Will Bowser scooped up an Ohio fumble and raced untouched 79 yards for a touchdown, making it a 27-14 game at the half.
“We could have ended that game much earlier, but the breaks we got in the first half, we didn’t get in the second half,” Ohio head coach Jose Davis said. “When you look at the bigger picture, for us, we busted a coverage for a touchdown and then you give up a scoop and score.”
“Give the kids a ton of credit for how they rallied because Ohio definitely had all of the momentum in the first half,” West Virginia head coach B.J. Depew said.
West Virginia dominated the third quarter, but only came away with six points to show for a quarter in which it ran 22 offensive plays to Ohio’s seven.
John Marshall’s Trevor Hardesty plunged in from 2 yards out with 3:23 to go, making it a 27-20 reading.
The turnover bug bit the Ohioans again on the ensuing possession. Magnolia’s Jacob Brill recovered an Ohio fumble and the Mountaineers were in business at Ohio’s 37.
Stretching into the fourth quarter, West Virginia got within one with more than 10 minutes to go on Hardesty’s one-yard burst. However, the attempt to tie was wide after a 15-yard penalty for unsportsmanlike was marked off.
“I think we tripled (West Virginia) in the first half in terms of the number of plays we ran, but they kept us off the field in the second half,” Davis said.
Another three-and-out by the Buckeyes led to a Colby Lindsay punt. West Virginia marched to the 33 yard line of Ohio and faced a fourth-and-inches.
West Virginia turned to hand the ball off, but was greeted by Littell who had come over the top-Troy Polamalu style-for a three-yard loss, giving the Buckeyes the ball back.
“How crazy was that?” Davis smiled. “I mean, how absolutely crazy was that play (by Littell)? We had lost our composure when they got within one. We were losing it, but we talked about those guys coming together as a group and it paid off at the end.”
Still, the Ohio offense, which had accumulated 263 first-half yards-managed to record just its second first down of the half, but moved no further and punted once again.
West Virginia took over on its 17 with 3:28 to go. Wheeling Park product Zach Phillips, who turned in a brilliant second half of managing the game, scrambled a few times, hit clutch throws, and led his team to the Ohio 34.
“There were so many big moments in the game,” Depew said. “That’s the good thing about an all-star game because you know the kids are going to make plays. I think all of the kids, on both sides, made big plays and put on one heck of a performance for the Ohio Valley.”
Facing a third-down play, Phillips dropped back, but Secrest, who had no fewer than four sacks and a truckload of hurries in the game, got free again. He chased Phillips down and forced a fourth down play, which was a desperation throw toward the end zone.
“I said earlier in the week that we thought Dalton was the most impressive guy we had,” Davis said. “I was worried because when you looked up front (defensively) for us, we had three Division VII kids (Cory Banco, Austin Schockling, and Secrest), but those kids all came up big. I’m not knocking Marietta, but someone is missing out on Dalton Secrest. He’s really good and West Virginia started running away from him because he’s that dominant.”
Secrest got the game started with a sack and then promptly blew up the next Mountaineer offensive play. It was just a sign of things to come. His effort earned him the game’s MVP, which was conducted through an online fan vote.
“It’s just crazy and it doesn’t even seem real,” Secrest said. “Making a big play in this game feels really good, but I am more excited that we won. This was a great week with a great bunch of guys.”
Ohio got out to its lead thanks to the work of quarterback Brenton Colabella. The Steubenville Central product threw for 231 of his 245 yards in the first half.
He found Rich Springer for a 37-yard touchdown on the first possession of the game.
Following a punt, he found Bellaire’s Brendon Ross for a big first-down pick up and then Chez Glenn did the honors from seven yards out.
After a Mountaineers’ score, Ohio got going again. Colabella put some air under a pass and Bellaire’s Kenny Hess laid out, making the sensational grab for a score. St. Clairsville’s Zach Musilli’s third straight PAT, made it 21-7.
Harrison Central product Nate Olmstead got into the big-play act a few plays later. He picked off a Phillips’ pass. Then he got his number called offensively and took a short pass and turned it into a 38-yard gain.
That drive was capped when Colabella found Ross from six yards out.
“I don’t care if we win by one or 100, a win is a win,” Davis said. You really can’t put into words how special this is for me to both be here and win this game.”