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MARTINS FERRY -- It came down to a roll of the dice in the final seconds and the Wheeling Central combination of Isaac Rine and John Burkhalter delivered a "seven", lifting West Virginia to a 20-13 victory over Ohio in the 72nd annual OVAC Rudy Mumley All-Star Football Game played Saturday night at Martins Ferry's Purple Rider Stadium.
When Ohio scored with 6:39 remaining to tie the score at 13-13, it appeared the game could go to overtime for the first time ever, but a fumble by the Buckeye State squad with four minutes remaining set the West Virginians up at the Ohio 30-year line with 4:48 to play.
West Virginia went to work on the ground, with Magnolia's Chase Street and Weir's Cody Enrietti helping to advance the ball to the Ohio seven-yard line.
A one-yard loss left West Virginia with a second-and-goal at the eigh, but only eight seconds remained and while a field goal would have won the game, Coach John Durdines turned riverboat gambler and opted for one more shot at a TD.
Quarterback Rine and receiver Burkharlter delivered big-time, connecting on a TD pass in the extreme right of the end zone for the dramatic game-winning score. Michael Mills of Weir added the PAT, and all that remained was the ensuing kickoff which ended the game.
"I'm so happy for these kids...they busted their butts all week," said West Virginia coach John Durdines .They definitely deserve this win tonight.
"I told these kids this was my last game as a head coach and I wouldn't want to do it with any other group of kids," he said. "I'm not just talking about talent. The character and class of these kids is top-notch."
West Virginia has now won the annual mid-summer classic three years in a row and for the sixth time in the last eight years. Ohio still leads the overall series, 43-28-1 including 28-17-1 since the OVAC assumed sponsorship of the game in 1972.
Ohio opened the scoring at the 6:51 mark of the first quarter, with Buckeye Trail's Carter Streiff taking a reverse to the right side, executing a couple of nifty moves and scoring on a 20-yard run.
West Virginia's Tyler Anderson of Tyler Consolidated blocked the PAT, but Ohio was on top by a 6-0 count.
The Mountain State squad evened the count at 6-6 on the first snap of the second period, with Magnolia's Street tallying on a nine-yard run. A missed PAT left the game deadlocked with 11:55 left in the first half.
West Virginia moved in front 13-6 at the 3:43 juncture of round number two, with Street again getting his second score of the night on a 25-yard TD run. Weir's Mills tacked on the extra-point.
Ohio scored the equalizer in the fourth quarter thanks to a 12-play, 68-yard drive which featured a couple of solid runs by Fort Frye's Casey Lewis and a clutch seven-yard gainer by Cambridge's Garth Charlton on a fourth-and-five at the West Virginia 12.
Two plays later, Steubenville's Jalen McGhee followed Charlton up the middle for a 10-yard TD, with the point-after kick by East Liverpool's Dylan Kidder knotting the count at 13-all and setting the stage for exciting finish.
"Shoulda...coulda...woulda," offered Ohio coach Karl Justus. "The kids gave great effort; they just made one more play than we did.
"We helped them out a lot with penalties and missed assignments," he continued, "but despite all that it came down to a great play at the end."
Rine completed 8-of-20 passes for 74 yards with one interception (by Toronto's Danny Zdinak) for West Virginia, with Burkhalter catching five passes for 64 yards and the game-winner.
Streets finished with 16 carries for 82 yard and two TDs, and he was named the game's MVP in an on-line voting by the fans.
"Ohio got a lot of pressure on us and took us out of our pass game," said Coach Durdines, "but what a game Chase Street had. He and Cody (Enrietti) got us a lot of tough yards tonight."
Steubenville's McGhee gained 49 yards and Fort Frye's Lewis added 31 on the ground for Ohio. QBs Austin Mayfield of East Liverpool and Konnor Roberts of Meadowbrook were just 3-of-8 combined for 21 passing yards.
--After wearing their West Virginia blue shirts in the first half, the coaching staff switched to their Bishop Donahue green shirts at halftime as a tribute to their school which has closed its doors.
--"The coaches wanted to do it and the kids wanted them to do it," said Coach Durdines. "You could hear them chanting 'Bishop Donahue' at the end for us because they understand it's a tough situation for us and for the kids there, and what a way to shine a little light on the school tonight."
--Meadowbrook High grad Kyle Roberts (brother of Ohio QB Konnor Roberts) got a chance to show off his pass, punt and kick skills at the end of the first quarter. His attempt at a 45-yard field goal on the field where Lou 'The Toe' Groza once kicked came up a little (or more accurately a lot) short.
--The OVAC McDonald's All-Star Band once again put on a terrific performance both in the pregame and halftime.
--Wheeling Park's Kelly McCardle was crowned the 2017 OVAC Queen of Queens. The first runner-up was Shadyside's Ashley Visnic.
Officials at Martins Ferry did an outstanding job of hosting the game which was played outside of Wheeling Island Stadium for only the third time. Purple Rider Stadium looked resplendent with its newly-installed turf and scoreboard/message board and everything appeared to run smoothly thanks to the efforts of Athletic Director Kim Appolloni, Coach Dave Bruney and Superintendent Jim Fogle along with countless others.