The Ohio players taking part in the Big 33 Classic said their Pennsylvania counterparts spent much of the week leading up to Saturday night’s game talking trash and guaranteeing victory.
Ohio replied by letting its play on the field do most of the talking.
The Buckeye Staters showed little mercy, opening a 28-7 halftime lead and cruising home to a 50-14 victory in the high school all-star game staged on a muggy night in Hersheypark Stadium in Hershey, Pa.
“The trash talk was heavy all during the week,” said OSU-bound cornerback Doran Grant, who had a 100-yard interception return for a touchdown that broke Pennsylvania’s spirit. “I think that was probably one of the worst weeks with trash talking. Our coach said it was time to back it up, and we backed it up pretty well with that victory we had.”
Grant was far from the only star for Ohio on the night. Cardale Jones, who plans to enroll at Ohio State after taking a grayshirt in 2011, led scoring drives on his first four possessions and tossed two touchdown passes, while OSU-bound wideout Devin Smith had two scoring grabs among his three catches for 103 yards.
But while there were plenty of future Buckeyes – seven in all – excelling on the evening, Ohio State might have been left ruing the one that got away in Akise Teague. The Cincinnati-bound running back, Ohio’s Mr. Football in 2010 at Youngstown Ursuline, earned Ohio MVP honors with 102 yards and two scores on the ground and 66 yards and another TD through the air.
“It’s pretty cool just to be up there with some great names and so many great people that came before me that played in this game,” said Teague, who was never offered by OSU and has faced questions about his 5-9 stature. “There’s a couple of doubters. People talk, but it was a good opportunity to show my skills.”
Add in Akron-bound athlete Tyler Williams of Cincinnati Colerain, who chipped in another 119 yards of offense, and it was clear Pennsylvania just couldn’t keep up with the athletes Ohio put on the field.
The Buckeye State train took a while to get rolling, though, as it bogged down deep in PA territory on its first two drives, and J.D. Detmer missed field goals to keep the game scoreless.
Finally, things changed when Jones entered the game. The Cleveland Glenville star and Teague combined to make a backfield Pennsylvania couldn’t stop, first with Jones corralling a high snap and handing off to Teague on a draw that the back took 52 yards up the left sideline to make it 7-0 at the 4:30 mark of the first quarter.
Ohio quickly got the ball back and, after a 45-yard pass from Jones to Williams, Teague went 20 yards over the right side on third-and-5 to double the lead late in the first quarter.
The Keystone State stemmed the momentum when Cuyahoga Falls Walsh Jesuit quarterback Connor Cook, who signed with Michigan State, was intercepted in the second quarter in his own territory. From there, Pennsylvania earned its initial first down of the game and eventual team MVP Sean Barowski of Harrisburg Bishop McDevitt plunged over the line from 5 yards out to make it 14-7 with 5:35 left in the first half.
However, Ohio didn’t take long to reply. Jones hit Teague on a 21-yard swing pass on the first play of the ensuing possession, and one play later, he hooked up with a wide-open Smith – who had tweaked his left leg earlier in the game and missed two drives – for a 54-yard score that made it 21-7.
Pennsylvania drove on its next possession, but quarterback Jalen Fitzpatrick (Temple) and wideout Shawn Oakman (Penn State) miscommunicated on a third-down play in the red zone. Fitzpatrick’s fade pass went right to Smith at the goal line, and the Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary star evaded Oakman’s tackle attempt and followed a cordon of blockers the length of the field up the left sideline for the back-breaking tally that made it 28-7 at the half.
Smith was open all day and had another deep ball to the 1-yard line early in the third quarter from Jones negated because of a holding penalty, but Jones had little trouble finding Teague – who didn’t have anyone within 15 yards of him – open down the seam for a 40-yard score that made it 35-7 just 3:37 into the third.
Williams started a fourth-quarter possession with an electrifying 54-yard run, and Cook found Smith one play later from 28 yards out for the Massillon Washington star’s second TD of the day. Ohio went for two and converted to make it 43-7.
Pennsylvania got one back when Matt Johnson (Bowling Green) hit Quinton Sullivan (Lackawanna) for a touchdown with 6:33 to play, but Michigan-bound Keith Heitzman of Hilliard Davidson plunged in from a yard out to set the final score with 3:40 to play.
Jones had a pretty good case for offensive MVP after finishing 4 of 6 for 160 yards passing and the two scores while showing excellent escapability in the pocket. Westerville Central tight end Nick Vannett, another OSU signee, did not have a ball thrown his way.
On defense, the Ohio defensive line – led by Ohio State-bound Steve Miller (Canton McKinley) and Chase Farris (Elyria) – dominated all game long. Miller was kept off the official stat sheet but Farris had two tackles. Grant also finished with two tackles.
Michigan-bound Antonio Poole (Cincinnati Winton Woods) led the Ohio defense with six tackles and a sack, while Kent State signee Trayion Durham (Cincinnati Colerain) was also a constant presence in the backfield.