St. Clairsville - October 23, 2015
Playing without their regular quarterback and an improvised offense against state ranked and undefeated St. Clairsville made for a long night in this one as Coach Josh Ludwig and his crew took it on the chin on a chilly Friday evening at Patterson Field, losing 35-7.
Things got off to a difficult start when the opening kickoff, received by Kyle Walker, could be only advanced as far as the five-yard line. From there, it quickly became obvious what the game plan was for the Potters – no time to fiddle, run Austyn Dozier up the middle.
With senior Ryan Bombich replacing injured junior quarterback Austin Mayfield under center on three days’ notice, it would be one hand off after another to “Bull” Dozier, who carried twelve times in the first quarter alone, and 30 on the night for 130 yards in a determined performance.
Thanks to Dozier’s ability to keep the ball out of the visitors’ hands, the Red Devils touched the pigskin only four times in the initial quarter, before the fifth carry proved to be disastrous when their star quarterback Zach Bigelow sprinted 75 yards for a TD with 3:47 remaining in the period. Matt Greenwood, who was perfect on the night, made it 7-0.
Then came the catastrophic second quarter which saw Coach Brett McLean and his team put what would prove to be all the rest of their points on the board for the evening with four touchdowns to take a 35-0 lead to the locker room at the intermission.
Scoring on a 20-yard run by Bigelow on the third play of the second quarter, the Saints made it 15-0 after Nick Falbo recovered a bobbled ball in the end zone on a two-point conversion attempt. The play was set up when the Potters jumped offside as Greenwood lined up to kick the extra point resulting in a half-the-distance penalty.
After receiving the ensuing kickoff, the Potters got into trouble again when an errant pitch-out resulted in a fumble recovered by Cole Saggs, who raced 20 yards to make it 22-0, following Greenwood’s conversion kick.
St. Clairsville would run it up to 28-0 with 8:20 remaining in the half after EL went three-and-out on their own 25 with their punt traveling only 18 yards, going out-of-bounds on the their own 43. Four plays later, Bigelow found Logan Williams from 33 yards out and it was 28-0. A two-point conversion attempt failed.
Not to be denied, the Blue and White proceeded to rack up their longest drive of the evening, a 12-play effort that started on their own 24 and bogged down on the visitors’ 35, where the Saints took over on downs with 1:59 showing on the clock.
Making the most of the remaining time before the break, Bigelow threw six passes, completing three, finally taking matters into his own hands by rambling 13 yards to cross the final stripe with 23 seconds to play. Greenwood made it 35-0 before the teams headed to the locker room.
The scoring explosion was slowed down somewhat in the second half with the “mercy rule” invoked, and there would be one additional score as time ran out in the game. It came with 1:37 showing on the fourth quarter clock and the ball placed on the EL 25-yard line when sophomore speedster, Kyle Walker burst up the middle, racing 75 yards to make it 35-7 following Dylan Kidder’s conversion kick.
“Big plays and turnovers hurt us, but we did run the ball well,” East Liverpool Coach Josh Ludwig said in the end zone following the game. “I thought Austyn was able to get in there and make some great cuts. Our line sustained really well. We had eight first downs to their six in the first half and led in rushing, but simply couldn’t capitalize."
Junior quarterback Austin Mayfield was examined in Pittsburgh during the week and it was determined that surgery would not be necessary on his injured left hand, however, he will miss the first portion of the wrestling season.
Both Coach Brett McLean and Josh Ludwig are graduates of Mt. Union where they learned their football from Coach Larry Kehres.
Brendan Ferns, the highly recruited linebacker for the Devils, could be seen limping during the game and carried the ball only once for two yards.
It was senior night with not only members of the football team honored, but also golf, soccer and tennis fourth-year student athletes, along with senior band members lined up with their families at mid-field prior to the game.
Long-time side line associate Harry Malone was also honored with a plaque for his 33 years of service to the team.
Had the “mercy rule’ not been enforced in the second half, Austyn Dozier might have broken the record for most carries in a game set by Jim “Bodie” White in 1984. Playing for Coach Glenn Sutherin, who loved to keep the ball on the ground, White carried 38 times for 170 yards against Cleveland East Tech in 1984.
The late Dr. Joe Chetwin sits at second place with 36 lugs vs. Wellsville in 1929. Chetwin continued his athletic and academic career at Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia where he remained to practice dentistry.
Dozier is now tied for fourth place with Stefan Yoho vs. Hubbard with 30 carries good for 104 yards in 2012.