Pennsylvania Falls on Late Ohio Rally

In a game known for big offensive outbursts, it was the defenses that stepped up big for both Ohio and Pennsylvania in the 2010 Big 33 Classic. In one of the most memorable games in the history of the series, the outcome remained in doubt until the final play.

HERSHEY, Pa -- It was not supposed to be close, claimed most high school football experts. Ohio, which moved the date of its annual North South All-Star Game in order to bring a strong team to Hershey for the Big 33 was expected to roll over a Pennsylvania squad thinned by early college enrollment, and by PA's own East-West All-Star game played on the same date in Altoona.

It was a scrappy Pennsylvania defense, however, that controlled the game through most of the first 45 minutes. Drawing first blood when a snap to Ohio Punter Carey Spears sailed through the end zone, the stingy defense, led by Woodland Hills' Rich Gray with four sacks and six tackles for loss, made the 2 point margin stick until the third quarter had nearly run down.

New Nittany Lion Alex Kenney hauled in a 48 yard touchdown pass from Wilson's Tyler Smith with 1:48 remaining in the third quarter to give Pennsylvania a 9-0 advantage and some breathing room, which lasted for one play. On Ohio's first play from scrimmage following the Pennsylvania score, quarterback Vernon Reed, who would be awarded the Ohio MVP award, called his own number and scored on a 74 yard quarterback draw. Game On.

The tempo of the game returned to the defense for most of the 4th quarter, but a mishandled punt handed the ball to Ohio at the Pennsylvania 13 yard line with just 3:41 remaining in the contest. Aided by a pair of Ohio penalties, the Pennsylvania defense held strong, and forced Ohio to settle for a 33 yard Spear field goal, giving Ohio a 10-9 advantage and their first lead of the game.

Pennsylvania fought back but saw their hopes seemingly evaporate, when a Tyler Smith pass was picked off by Mike Dorsey at midfield. Dorsey returned the interception to the Pennsylvania 13, and the situation looked bleak with just 3:11 remaining on the clock, but on the next play, Manasseh Garner of Brashear tore the ball away from Ohio running back Te Elias. The fumble recovery gave Pennsylvania new life, and after converting a 4th and 11, a Pitt bound duo hooked up to give the Keystone State team back the lead when Anthony Gonzalez found Andrew Carswell running free on a deep post pattern for a 65 yard score.

Chant's of "It's all over," rung out from the raucous Pennsylvania crowd, who held on for more than four hours for the game's conclusion, and with just 1:40 to play, it seemed that may have been a logical conclusion. But it wasn't.

After consecutive penalties backed up Pennsylvania to the 28, a 2 point conversion attempt failed, leaving Pennsylvania with a tenuous 5 point lead. Ohio would erase it in just two plays when Ohio quarterback Mark Myers found Christian Bryant on a 17 yard slant out just 36 seconds later. Ohio's 2 point conversion did not fail, and Ohio took the lead 18-15. This would be the final score, Smith was unable to lead Pennsylvania past midfield, throwing four straight incompletions in a desparate attempt to make a comeback.

The victory was the second straight for Ohio in the Big 33 Classic.

Wilson's Tyler Beck had a big day for Pennsylvania, hauling in 7 passes for 77 yards in a Pennsylvania offense that ran up 315 yards through the air, but just 15 on the ground, however it was defender Rich Gray who claimed the MVP for Pennsylvania. Wisconsin bound Manasseh Garner played a big game with 3 tackles for loss and a big takeaway on an Ohio fumble deep in Pennsylvania territory.

Penn State players put up solid numbers, including Kenney's big touchdown reception, and a bone jarring hit by Shyquawn Pullium in the first quarter that separated the ball from an Ohio receiver, and his senses.

But in the end, despite scrappy, determined effort, it was Ohio who emerged victorius.

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