Three in a row: Buckeye State claims 7-0 victory over West Virginia in BACF
ST. MARYS — Ohio MVP Boone Jones of Shenandoah delivered a punishing hit to Ritchie County’s Gabe Ray on the final play of the 26th annual Battle Against Cystic Fibrosis All-Star Football Classic here Friday night at Bill Hanlin Stadium to jar the ball loose on what would’ve been a West Virginia touchdown as the Buckeye State survived to top the Mountaineers, 7-0.
In what was the lowest scoring game ever, the Buckeyes of Belpre head coach Mike DeVol got the only six-pointer of the affair at 5:35 of the opening quarter when Southern signal-caller Logan Drummer hit a wide-open Zac Jones of Monroe Central for a 45-yard catch-and-run touchdown pass. Drummer also added the extra point.
Parkersburg Catholic and W.Va. head coach Lance Binegar’s squad didn’t get their initial first down until 2:14 left in the first half when Ripley’s RJ Evans had a 7-yard rush.
The victory for the Buckeyes was the third straight in the series and cut their overall deficit to 15-11. Previously, the lowest scoring BACF contest was the inaugural one in 1994 when Ohio won 10-7. The shutout also marked the fourth time Ohio pulled off that feat as it also blanked W.Va. in 2000 (36-0), 2009 (24-0) and 2012 (48-0).
What turned out to be a defensive struggle both ways went down to the wire as W.Va. put together its best drive of the night on its last attempt.
Needing to go 91 yards to paydirt with 2:48 to go, Parkersburg Catholic’s Ty Sturm was in the Wildcat and managed to get a first down with a pair of rushes. Facing a fourth-and-10 at their own 19, the Mountaineers moved the chains with 1:40 to go thanks to a pass interference call. With 48 ticks remaining, Sturm managed to stretch and get a first down on a fourth-and-2 play from the W.Va. 43.
Consecutive 5-yard receptions by Ray and St. Marys’ Dakota Sampson gave W.Va. another first down, this time at the Ohio 45. With time running out, Sturm attempted another pass, which was almost intercepted by a pair of Buckeyes, but Ohio once again was flagged for pass interference.
Now down to the final play of the affair, the hosts had the ball with 4 seconds remaining first-and-10 at the Ohio 30. Sturm, who nearly got sacked on the play but managed to stand upright, fired a pass to an awaiting and open Ray in the front of the end zone. However, Jones came flying in and just as Ray got the ball into his arm, the ex-Zep made the hit to cause the incompletion and keep the Mountaineers off the scoreboard.
“It was just awesome,” said Belpre graduate Jesse Collins, who is off to West Liberty University to play as an H-back for the Hilltoppers. “It’s not about the win. The win is always good at the end of the day, but our defense stopped them the whole game. The win and the MVP goes to the defense whoever it is.”
Collins’ effort on the ground along with his offensive line allowed Ohio to control the clock. He finished with game-highs of 23 carries for 113 yards.
“For the West Virginia team, they surprised us,” Collins added. “They came out and played really hard. They never gave up. Ty Sturm, none of them ever gave up.
“It had me so scared at the end of the game. It’s a blessing to come out here. All glory to God and I’m glad we could raise money for a good cause.”
Ripley’s Josh Kay, who was busy at safety all evening long, earned MVP honors for W.Va.
“It was a great experience and I had a great time down here,” said Kay, who is off to Marietta College. “I met a lot of great people. We played really hard. It just didn’t end up our way man.
“We played hard defense the whole night. Offensively, we just couldn’t get it up and down the field tonight.”
W.Va. trailed 162-34 in first-half total yards and ended the game amassing just 90 yards offensively, but did manage to hold Ohio to 254 stripes.
The Mountaineers didn’t cross midfield until the first drive of the second half, but the first snap they had across the 50, Fort Frye’s Evan Schob’s made a 2-yard tackle for loss on Evans.
W.Va. managed to get the ball right back thanks to a combined sack of Drummer by Paden City’s Ryan Cross and Doddridge County’s Jordan Owens, whose hit on Drummer led to a fumble which ended the first half as Belpre’s Gavyn Freeland was able to recover it.
After Kay made a stop on Caldwell running back Dalton Wheeler (8-29), W.V. got the ball back and had plenty of momentum after Sampson hauled in a 29-yard pass from Sturm. However, Ohio got consecutive tackles for loss by Caldwell’s Drew Ivey and Alex Piskula to help force a punt.
Marietta’s Tanner Stack had a huge 49-yard reception on the ensuing drive, but Drummer was later intercepted by Paden City’s Michael Shreves, who returned it 29 yards. The Wildcat left the game in the fourth quarter on a stretcher for precautionary reasons.
Ritchie County’s Bailey Riddle recovered a fumble on a bad snap the first play after Shreves’ injury, but Sturm was sacked by Waterford’s Peyten Stephens. On third and long from their own 10, Evans took a pitch but got punished by Fort Frye’s Brenden Huck for a 5-yard loss. Ohio then went three-and-out to give W.Va. its final chance.
Ravenswood’s Luke Jackson had a solid game. The ex-Red Devil tripped up Collins to stop a fourth-and-5 play on the game’s opening drive. He also recovered a fumble when Ohio was in the red zone and had a first-and-goal at the 9 late in the second quarter.
Drummer hit 3 of 5 passes with the one pick for 104 yards.
Sturm had 14 yards rushing on as many attempts and went 6 of 15 passing for 44 yards. Sampson finished with three grabs for 34 stripes and Tyler Consolidated’s Hunter Forrester had one grab for 10 yards.