Martins Ferry - September 30, 2016
For those who can remember, in the words of Yogi Berra, “It was deja vous all over again” in this one, as the Purple Riders pulled off a fake punt at almost the same spot and at the same juncture in the game as the Potters were able to hornswoggle them on October 1, 2010.
Leading 20-17 with 1:08 remaining in that contest, Marky Thompkins attempted to run out the clock by twice taking a knee. However, on the third play of the series with the ball on the 37, the 6’0” junior QB appeared to be kneeling, but quickly bounced to his feet, and threw a 12-yard strike to Andrew English, who rambled the remaining 25 yards to make the final 26-17 in favor of ELHS.
On this chilly damp night at Patterson Field with 1:25 left to play, Coach Dave Bruney and his crew, leading 14-7 on their own 48, lined up to punt. Enter Corey Bennett positioned to the left of punter Dom Wallace, who faked the kick as the snap from center went to Bennett. The 5’8” – 185 lb. junior quickly rambled to the EL 18 and, after a pair of genuflects by frosh quarterback Jacob Probst, this one was in the books just before 10 p.m. in favor of the Purple, 14-7.
The Blue and White’s only score preceded the fake punt at the 2:20 mark of the fourth quarter when Austin Mayfield found Zach Gill from the Riders’ 12 and Kidder converted. The senior kicker then attempted an onside kick which went out of bounds, setting the visitors up on their own 40; they then called the number of Dalton Hoover three straight times. However, the junior running back, who gained 109 stripes in 26 carries in the game, was held to less than two yards a carry in this series, setting up the fake punt.
Hoover had previously scored his team’s initial TD, with a 47-yard run to the house in the third quarter. Cody Olson’s conversion made it 7-0 at 5:44 in the period. This was followed when, on the second play of the fourth quarter, junior running back Jacob Johnson scored on six-yard run, which was all Martins Ferry would need after Olsen’s conversion.
“Following the game, Coach Josh Ludwig commented on Ferry’s fake punt that sealed his team’s fate: “We were loading up to the left to try to block the punt. Give credit to Bennett for making the adjustment on the fly. It was a gutsy call and it worked.”
" Addressing his team’s inability to move the ball in the second half, the head Potter said, “They ran the same exact defense, but just sent a little more heat in the second half. Overall, I thought we protected pretty well, they just got us on some blitzes.”
Once again the combination of Austin Mayfield and Zach Gill added to the Potter record book with the big quarterback finding his favorite target 11 times for 107 yards, representing the most catches in a single game by one individual.
Dakota Ice moved up to second place for most receptions in a game behind Zach Gill with nine catches for 98 yards
Mayfield also threw the most passes ever in a ELHS game with 43, completing 24, also a record.
The series between the two teams has an interesting comparison as the Purple Riders won 13 straight contests through 1935, while the Potters ran the table for the same number of victories from 1950 to 1968.
Historically, the Riders hold a 27-17 advantage. There has never been a tie game played between the two schools. The 44 meetings represent the third most with any opponent in ELHS history. The rivalry with Salem tops the list at 89 with Steubenville in second place having played the Potters 46 times.
Heavy rains swept across the area on both Thursday and Friday before the game, but the sky cleared at around 5 p.m. leaving a less than desirable playing surface on Patterson Field in its wake.
Coach Dave Bruney is a class act, currently in his 39th year on the Ferry sidelines – 35 as the head coach, he looks like he is half his age. His son, Zac, now an assistant coach at Ohio Dominican, was Josh Ludwig’s roommate at Mount Union University for three years.