Behind a strong second-half defense and the playmaking skills of starting quarterback Dan Persa (who is headed to Northwestern), Pennsylvania blanked Ohio 14-0 after halftime. Persa was named Player of the Game for the Pennslyvania squad as he accounted for three touchdowns.
Persa ran for 65 yards on 11 carries to lead all rushers, including touchdown scampers of 11 and 25 yards in the first half. He completed 6 of 8 passes for 76 yards with a 12-yard scoring toss to Derek Moye, who led Pennsylvania with 76 yards on 5 receptions. Moye is headed to Penn State.
Persa celebrates a score.
Pennsylvania began the third quarter with a big break. Punting from its own territory, Tom Kondash (Lafayette) boomed a punt to the Ohio 15-yard line where the Ohio returner fumbled and Rontez Miles (Kent State) fell on it. Pennsylvania took advantage of the gift when facing third down at the 12. Persa tossed the ball to Moye in the back of the end zone, and the 6-foot-5 wideout outjumped everyone else, giving Pennsylvania some breathing space at 21-10.
Ohio quarterback Zach Collaros (Cincinnati) tried to lead the neighbor state back, firing three straight completions for 34 yards. After a potential interception went through the hands of Drew Astorino (Penn State), Dan DeCicco (Pitt) sacked Collaros for a loss of 6 to set up fourth and 13. After a 5-yard encroachment penalty on Pennsylvania, Collaros went for the home run but Darryl Robinson (Temple) broke up the pass in the back of the end zone.
Pennsylvania took over on its own 31-yard-line. After a 13-yard pass to Astorino on 3rd down, Villanova bound QB Chris Whitney hit a diving Tony Clemons (Michigan) for 39 yards at the 15-yard line. Henry Hynoski (Pitt) punched in the ball with a 1-yard touchdown run to extend the lead to 28-10.
Nathan Stupar (Penn State) ended any threat of Ohio making a comeback by sacking Anthony Wright (Air Force) for a loss of 14 yards when facing third and long. Pennsylvania finished the game with eight sacks on the athletic quarterbacks of Ohio.
"I was getting frustrated, I had been chasing them around all game," Stupar laughed. "I just kept at it and I finally was able to get a hand on him and finally wrapped him up."
Pennsylvania used the running ability of quarterbacks Persa and Whitney to keep the ball in its hands for eight of the last 10 minutes of the game, outrushing Ohio on the night, 126-29.
Ohio started the scoring with a field goal early in the first quarter, only to have Persa march the Pennsylvania offense right down the field, capping the drive with a 12-yard touchdown run of his own for a 7-3 lead.
Ohio grabbed the lead for the final time with 2:18 left in the second quarter with a 57-yard strike from Perci Garner to Kyle Jefferson (Wisconsin) to go up 10-7. Persa marched Pennsylvania right down the field and had a nifty 25-yard scramble to put his squad up 14-10 at halftime.
While the game gets all the attention, the players enjoy the entire week and come away making new friends, despite the rivalries they will develop in college.
"Persa and I hit it off — he was telling me that when he lines up against me at Northwestern he'll have a hard time not laughing," Stupar said.
Pennsylvania now leads the all-time series with Ohio, 8-7.