BEAVER FALLS, PA (WYTV) – The Penn-Ohio Game has been dominated by the Keystone State with a 26-11 record before Thursday’s 38th edition of the contest. The Ohio team was not intimidated.
In dramatic fashion, Ohio beat Pennsylvania 21-20 by stopping Rochester’s Ian Kouba on a two-point try with 29.8 seconds remaining in the contest. Most players and fans thought the Pennsylvania squad would toss a jump ball to their 6’7 receiver Devon Brown from Fort Cherry lined up wide left. But Pennsylvania’ s coach Joe Lamenza called for a run to the right.
“Actually, number two was on this side. He’s like 6’8. I was thinking they were going to throw a jump ball to him. When they sprinted the other way I just flew over there as fast as I could and tried to make the play,” Wellsville’s Brazen Grodhaus explained.
Grodhaus tackle of Kouba, along with numerous tackles, and pressure on the Pennsylvania quarterbacks earned him the defensive player of the game honor.
“We were kind of down about the touchdown, giving it up late. But we went over on the timeout and said let’s go and give it our all,” Grodhaus remarked. “A lot of them guys don’t have another left, so we wanted to put it all out there. Leave it all out on the field.”
Pennsylvania scored on a 13-yard pass from Amos Luptak of Quaker Valley to Nicholas Henderson of Freedom on a fourth and six situation. That score was the result of a 69-yard drive on 14 plays and included a fourth and twenty conversion.
Ohio had taken a 21-14 lead with 5:24 remaining when Columbiana’s Mitch Davidson hit Western Reserve’s Wyatt Larimer in the right corner of the end zone. That scoring strike came after Ohio had pinned Pennsylvania at its own 2-yard line on a punt by Austin Mayfield of East Liverpool.
With Pennsylvania only advancing the ball to the 5-yard line, they were forced to punt out of their own end zone. The ensuing punt was short and fair caught at the Pennsylvania 19. The Ohio struck on the first play from scrimmage after the change of possession.
“We were just trying to go for a little slant and go. I saw the play break down a little bit and I saw Cooper (Bezeredi of Salem) waiting to the end zone. I saw Wyatt trailing behind him so I knew Wyatt wanted the ball so I threw it to him and I knew he would get it,” Davidson explained the winning touchdown play.
Davidson would complete 5 of 9 passes in the contest for 82 yards and two touchdowns. He received the honor of the Ohio team offensive player of the game for his effort.
“I think we were able to run the ball pretty well. We gave Frankie (Centofanti of Springfield) a lot of carries up the middle and he was able to get like five yards here and there. That definitely helped to open the passing game,” Davidson described the reason for his success in passing in the game.
“We ran a few different offenses and I kind of contributed. We ran the triple option and more of a spread. I got more of the spread running back reps because that’s what we ran at Springfield. So yeah, I just tried to help in any way I could,” Centofanti described his performance.
Ohio opened the scoring on their first possession of the game when Centofanti scored on a 5-yard run at the 5:53 mark. That drive covered 48-yards on 7-plays with South Range’s Nathan Daniezewski leading the way with a 24-yard romp.
After Pennsylvania tied the game up on the first play of the second quarter, Ohio jumped back ahead with just 2:13 remaining before halftime with Davidson hitting Salem’s Cooper Bezeredi on a 4-yard strike. However Pennsylavania would tie the game again with 40-seconds before intermission when Mike Savilisky of Blackhawk raced around right end for a 30-yard jaunt.
For Southern’s Zach Almy, he played an essential role as the center for the Ohio team offense, “It’s absolutely amazing. Just to play in it is a true blessing. I’m glad I could to it, but to win it that was something amazing right there.”
“Marcus was with me, and he had our backs,” Almy spoke of motivation for the win. “We won it for him. He was one of my true best friends. I’m wearing his shirt.”
Almy wore number 79 in the game in honor of Marcus Walter who was killed two years ago just before the Penn-Ohio contest. Almy and Walter were teammates on the Indians football team.
Almy also had the chance to play on the field of his future college, “It’s totally amazing to get to play on the home field before anyone else. It just feels amazing.”