Buckeye Local - October 16, 2015
For the first six years the Potters played Buckeye Local (from 1990 to 1995), the Panthers came out on top. This was followed by a six-year East Liverpool victory run during the coaching tenure of Bob Thayer.
The matchup was discontinued following the 2001 season, and resumed in 2014 with Buckeye coming out on top at Patterson Field 22-12.
Enter the 2015 edition of Blue and White football under the leadership of Coach Josh Ludwig with an improved squad led by junior quarterback Austin Mayfield and a pair of hard-nosed running backs, Dillon Reynolds and Austyn Dozier, who combined for 155 yards in this one, leading their team to a 41-14 win on a chilly night at Rayland’s War Memorial Stadium.
Leading the Potters, who scored in every quarter, it would be a banner night for "Bull" Dozier, who rushed for 133 yards and scored three times – his first coming on the Potters’ initial possession at 8:38 in the first quarter on a three-yard plunge after Dakota Ice moved the ball close on a 24-yard pass reception from Mayfield.
At this point the host team went on a 15-play drive that started on their own 37 and finally bogged down on the EL 20. From there, the teams went on a three-and-out routine with each team sharing the ball twice, until Mayfield and company set up shop on the Panthers’14, following the recovery of a bobbled Buckeye snap. Three plays later the big Potter quarterback found Ryan Bombich from 13 yards out, and it was 14-0, after Kidder was perfect, ending first half scoring.
The teams battled back-and-forth after the intermission until Dozier took charge following a 33-yard punt return that set his team up on the Panthers’ 33 from where the big back carried on runs of seven, two, thirteen, two and the decisive five to score with 26 seconds left in the period. The extra point failed and it was 20-0.
Coach Phil Pest and his team ultimately put points on the board three plays into the final quarter when Jared Moore rifled a pass to Andrew Hillman from his own 34, and 66 yards later, the junior receiver found the end zone to make it 20-6. The conversion kick failed.
It was then an exchange of punts before David Locke scored the first touchdown of his career on a one-yard plunge for the Blue and White with five minutes left to play. With P.J. Morris snapping and Payton Reed holding, Dylan Kidder made it 27-6.
However, as any diehard EL fan will attest, it isn’t over until it’s over when playing
Buckeye, as Moore once again threw the homerun ball; this time it was an 89-yarder to Danny Callarik and when John Marelli took the conversion in for two points, it was 27-14.
Enough was enough for Dozier who took over the game following Zach Gill’s recovery of a Buckeye onside kick attempt at midfield. It took the powerful back just four carries, one of which was 37 yards, to lug the ball from the host team’s 49 to the final stripe, and it was 34-14 after Kidder was perfect.
As the game wound its way toward a merciful conclusion, Dakota Ice picked off an errant pass, and 40 yards later the spunky back found himself in the end zone. Kidder’s kick made it 41-14 and it was time to go home.
“We were a late starter this year,” Coach Josh Ludwig commented following the game. “We need to get a better start next season, but we are really starting to come into our own. It’s just unfortunate that we started our season against some pretty good teams before we hit our stride,” he concluded.”
A serious injury to Buckeye Junior Brandon Mayle at the beginning of the third quarter made for a 22-minute delay in the game, when he was transported from the field in an ambulance.
The big injury for the Potters occurred late in the game when Austin Mayfield suffered a broken hand while playing defense. He was expected to undergo surgery, which ended his season.
The team was treated to pizza delivered to their locker room by DeFelice Pizza of Martins Ferry.
Genial Sam Jones, Buckeye Local’s athletic director, is a perfect host who also doubles as a football official in the Ohio Valley. He is expected to work the state final game in Columbus later in the season.