Ohio wins record fourth straight Big 33; rallies from 14-point deficit
By Steve Helwagen, 247sports.com Posted Jun 17, 2012
Ohio won the Big 33 for a record fourth straight time, overcoming a 21-7 deficit to win 24-21 in OT.
The Ohio all-stars made history Saturday night with an unprecedented
fourth straight win over the Pennsylvania all-stars in the 55th annual
Big 33 Football Classic at Hershey, Pa. No team or state has ever won the Big 33 in four consecutive years until tonight.
The Ohio all-stars made history Saturday night with an unprecedented fourth straight win over the Pennsylvania all-stars in the 55th annual Big 33 Football Classic at Hershey, Pa.
Ohio rallied from down 21-7 in the second half to force overtime. Ohio’s Tyler Grassman booted the game-winning 39-yard field goal and Ohio’s Nana Kyeremeh intercepted a tipped pass moments later to give the Ohio team an improbable 24-21 win.
No team or state has ever won the Big 33 in four consecutive years until tonight.
Four future Ohio State players were on the Ohio squad, including Steubenville DB Najee Murray, Cleveland Glenville DB Devan Bogard, Upper Arlington WR Frank Epitropoulos and Columbus DeSales RB Warren Ball. Epitropoulos missed the game due to a hamstring injury.
Murray had a big hand in the win with an 85-yard touchdown catch for the Ohio side.
“I’m just excited to get the win,” Murray said. “We were able to come together after we had that 14-point deficit. We stuck together to get the W.”
Ball had a 28-yard catch on Ohio’s first possession as well as a 30-yard run. Unofficially, Ball had 10 carries for 60 yards.
Quarterback Tyler O’Connor, a Michigan State signee, was named as the Ohio MVP. He threw for a touchdown and rushed for another score.
“This really means a lot,” O’Connor said. “It’s great for all of us to bring this back to our hometowns and it’s also big for the entire state of Ohio.”
Pennsylvania scored first with QB Skyler Mornhinweg hit Kevin Gulyas for a 61-yard touchdown with 7:14 left in the first quarter. QB Blake Rankin then hit Shakim Alonzo for a 13-yard touchdown and a 14-0 lead with 2:49 left in the first half.
Ohio got off the mat O’Connor found Murray for their 85-yard touchdown strike, cutting the Pennsylvania lead to 14-7 with 4:35 left in the third quarter.
“I told the coaches that was my favorite route when I was (at Steubenville),” Murray said. “We hit them with the smash post route. I knew coming off the line it was over. I know Tyler got hit on the throw, but I was able to catch it.
“My feet was cramping. I couldn’t show my speed,” Murray lamented.
But Rankin’s 4-yard TD toss to J.P. Holtz put Pennsylvania up 21-7.
O'Connor then had a 1-yard quarterback sneak for a touchdown, trimming the Pennsylvania lead to 21-14 with 6:27 remaining in the game.
Disaster struck for Pennsylvania on the ensuing kickoff as Desmon Peoples fumbled and Ohio’s E.J. Junior recovered it for the touchdown to tie it at 21-21 with 6:10 left.
Ohio’s Andre Jones had three interceptions in the game, including two late in the fourth quarter to help send the game to overtime.
Ohio had the ball first in the overtime. Ohio could not get a first down, but Grassman hit his 39-yard field goal to give Ohio its first lead. On the very first play from the Ohio 25, Mornhinweg tried to fit the ball into receiver Miles Williams. But Ohio LB Adam Wallace tipped the ball right to Kyeremeh for the easy interception to end it.
Ohio move ahead at 11-9 since the series with Pennsylvania resumed in 1993.
[b]Epitropoulos On The Mend[/b]
Epitropoulos and his fellow OSU signees will enroll at the university on Monday. After the game, he discussed his injury.
“I kind of strained my hamstring a little bit,” Epitropoulos said. “They didn’t want me to push it or do anything to injure it further. They were trying to keep me 100 percent for Ohio State. It’s frustrating that I didn’t get to play.
“But I’m on my way to getting better. This was a great win. They really have a great event here.”
[i]Gary Housteau contributed to this report. Stay tuned for more from Housteau at the Big 33 on Sunday and Monday.[/i]