Ohio snaps losing skid, scores big win with :20 seconds left in Big 33


Alter’s Austin Boucher was named MVP after leading Ohio to a 38-31 win in the Big 33 game. (Photo by Os Figeuroa)

It had all the makings of a historic clash. A Penn State quarterback versus several vaunted Ohio State defensive recruits. Instead it was a Miami (OH) recruit that stole the show. Whatever it takes. Ohio snapped a three-game losing streak to its neighbor to the East and captured the Big 33 game Saturday in Hershey, Pa. Finally…

HERSHEY, Pa. – One four-play sequence midway through the second quarter of Saturday’s Big 33 Football Classic neatly illustrated a recurring problem for the Pennsylvania offense.

On first down, defensive end Melvin Fellows, one of seven players on the Ohio squad headed for Ohio State, bowled over 5-foot-10 inch Pennsylvania running back Rob Hollomon, collapsing the pocket and forcing a sack.

On second down, the 6-5, 245-pound Fellows again manhandled Hollomon. On third down, Pennsylvania got a few yards back when Fellows was whistled for his second offsides penalty of the evening. He might have been offsides again on the next play, but it didn’t matter – future Buckeye Jonathan Newsome, the other end in the 5-2 defensive scheme, swooped in from the other side to drag down quarterback James Capello.

The Buckeyes-to-be helped throw Pennsylvania’s offense off its game early before quarterback Austin Boucher and Ohio’s skill players made some big second-half plays as Ohio overcame a late charge by the hosts and halted a three-game losing streak with a 38-31 win in breezy Hersheypark Stadium.

There were seven future Buckeyes and three future Nittany Lions in uniform Saturday night as one of the Big Ten’s best rivalries grew some more roots. But the competition was firm but friendly during one of the nation’s oldest and most prestigious all-star games.

Few plays passed without some of Joe Paterno’s future players going up against some of Jim Tressel’s. Future Nittany Lion Mark Arcidiacono, the Pennsylvania left tackle, immediately shook hands with future Buckeye defensive lineman Corey Linsley as the game ended. He also spent plenty of time squaring off with Newsome, the 225-pound speedster. Adam Bellamy, the Ohio State-bound defensive tackle, scooped up Curtis Drake’s fumble at the Ohio 1-yard line early in the third quarter.

For other players about to join the two states’ premier teams, it was a quiet evening. Ohio quarterbacks Austin Boucher, his team’s MVP, and Patrick Nicely (who were mostly well protected by towering tackles Sam Longo and Marcus Hall, both future Buckeyes) made concerted efforts to get the ball to talented Ohio State-bound wide receiver Chris Fields near the line of scrimmage. But Pennsylvania’s defensive backs were there waiting and didn’t let him get any yards after the catch.

Pennsylvania’s 6-foot-6 tight end, Garry Gilliam, who could play there or at defensive end for Penn State, didn’t see a pass thrown his way until late in the fourth quarter, when Drake found him for a 33-yard gain down the seam to the 1-yard line, setting up the score that knotted the game at 31-31 with just over two minutes to play.

Boucher, though, who threw for 255 yards and two touchdowns and completed 18 of 24 passes without an interception, was too much for the Pennsylvania defense in the second half, when he hooked up with Micah Hyde for a 99-yard score and set up the game-winning touchdown, a 1-yard rumble by converted defensive tackle Adam Replogle, with a 50-yard scramble through the heart of the defense.

Drake, who could go on to play either receiver or quarterback or some type of Pat White-hybrid position at Penn State, tore up the Ohio defense for 88 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. But the consistent pressure from Fellows, Newsome and Linsley, who made a big fourth-down sack to help give Ohio a late 14-point lead, was enough to force Drake into some bad throws and give the Ohio squad the bit of breathing room it needed to finally turn the tables in the high-school version of the cross-state rivalry.

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