Ohio Gets Best of W.Va.
By SHAWN RINE
For the Tyler Star News
WHEELING – A small-school quarterback showing up in a big-time game. On easily the biggest stage of his career, Monroe Central’s Ryan LaFollette proved beyond a shadow of a doubt he has what it takes.
LaFollette collected game Most Valuable Player honors after racking up 255 yards of total offense as Ohio snapped a three-game losing streak with a 21-14 victory against West Virginia in the 73rd annual OVAC Rudy Mumley All-Star Football Game on Saturday night at Wheeling Island Stadium. LaFollette completed all 11 of his pass attempts for 136 yards and a score and also carried 21 times for 119 yards and two more touchdowns in his final prep game.
“We put in the work this week and it showed on Saturday night in front of a lot of people,” LaFollette said. “I just trust my game, play hard and know that I can play with great potential against great competition.
“I just try to perform my best.”
Even with LaFollette’s effort, West Virginia still had the football and looked to be going in for the tying score a little less than halfway through the fourth quarter. A 5-yard pass from University’s Clay Bailey to Wheeling Park’s Rennie Clark had the Mountaineers with a second-and-goal at the Buckeyes 3. However on the ensuing play, the ballcarrier was stripped and Union Local’s Bradan Lucas came out of the pile with the football.
Ohio took over with 8:29 to go and although it ended up punting five plays later from its 19, precious time ran off the clock. It turned out to be a good thing for the Buckeyes, too.
Taking over at the Ohio 32 after a shanked punt, West Virginia quarterback Colby Brown threw three straight incompletions. The Cameron product just escaped pressure on fourth down and fired a jump ball to the end zone, where Magnolia’s Brooks Parsons – four catches, 79 yards – beat the coverage and came down with the ball for a touchdown to make it 21-14 with 5:37 remaining.
“We knew where we were going to struggle and that’s always a plus to know where your work is cut out for you,” West Virginia coach Scott Holt of Cameron said. “They dominated the line of scrimmage on both sides but we hung in there for being outsized and having a lot of kids out of position.
“They played well. They did nothing to embarrass themselves, their schools or their conference and I am proud of them for that.”
Taking over at their 39 with 5:28 left, the Buckeyes put the game on ice by picking up three first downs on a pair of runs by LaFollette and another by Steubenville’s Jonathan Blackmon.
“I’m just happy for our kids and our coaching staff,” said Ohio coach Bruce Stiles, who led his final game after stepping down at Union Local. “You’re involved in a lot of wins and losses but I guess you will kind of remember your last one the most.
“The first half I thought we shot ourselves in the foot with wrong formations and things like that. It was just little things that we didn’t do well in the first half we did better in the second half.”
Ohio jumped out quickly as LaFollette led a seven-play, 88-yard drive that culminated in a 28-yard touchdown pass to Big Red’s Jamaal Petteway. The Mountaineers looked to answer before Meadowbrook’s Easton Black picked off Brown at the
Later in the first quarter John Marshall’s Dereck Hess returned a punt 14 yards to the Ohio 29. Four plays later Brown found Brooke’s Ethan Secrist on a beautifully thrown 9-yard fade for an equalizer that eventually left the teams tied 7-7 at halftime.
The only score of the third quarter came on Ohio’s first drive. Toronto’s Jake Keenan – team-leading four catches and 70 yards – hauled in a 12-yarder to get the march started. He came down with a 10-yard gain and LaFollette ripped off runs of 13 and 18 yards before going in from the 1 to make it 14-7.
LaFollette added some insurance when he scampered down the sideline and into the end zone from 26 yards away early in the fourth quarter.
“Not bad, huh?” Stiles said of LaFollette’s performance. “What an athlete. Physically he has really developed since the season.
“West Virginia came out and lit us up, too. They were physical.”
Brown led the Mountaineers, who were held to 19 yards rushing, by completing 10 of 18 passes for 155 yards. Secrist caught four of those, good for 53 yards.
“The inability to get any momentum going was a problem.” Holt said. “We got a big play here or there, but we didn’t have many drives that were 5, 6 yards a clip the way they did it.
“When you get a rhythm and get some confidence is when you are able to put some points on the board. They were able to do that and we really weren’t.”