CALCUTTA - The 35th game in the Beaver Local Beavers-East Liverpool Potters rivalry went to the visiting Potters by a 20-16 score last night at Fighting Beaver Stadium.
This was a game in which team neither gave any quarter nor asked for any.
Zach English paced the Potter attack with 107 yards on 23 carries. Workhorse Robert Johnston toted the ball 26 times for 104 yards for the Beavers. Johnston gained 79 yards in the second half.
"Our kids played hard and to the end," said East Liverpool head coach Rick Prescott. "We let them hang around and we made it too exciting."
Beaver Local head coach Jeremy McElroy was very proud of his team's performance, saying, "Our kids played with one purpose, one mind and one heart. I am so very proud of our seniors for the leadership that they have provided all season long."
After each team went three-and-out on their first possession of the game, East Liverpool (4-5) struck paydirt on their second possession. Using his speed and elusiveness, English broke left to the outside and raced to the Beaver Local 20-yard line before being driven out of bounds. Two more runs by the Potter senior put the ball on the Beavers' one. Fullback John Miscuk barged in for the game's first score and a 6-0 Potter lead at the 5:06 mark of the first quarter.
Beaver Local's offense started to click in the second quarter as they drove from their own 30 to inside the East Liverpool 20-yard line. Quarterback Trevor McLaughlin completed four passes on the drive, three to Tyler Stratton and one to Hayden Grafton.
On fourth-and-sixth from the Potter 20, McLaughlin went back to pass, was hit and spun around, causing the ball to come loose. East Liverpool linebacker Kaleb Tallent swooped in grabbed the ball at the 25-yard line and raced 75 yards to the Potter end zone.
"The ball just popped up and I grabbed it," said Tallent. "I was surprised. Once I broke clear, I didn't think they could catch me."
English ran around left end for the two-point conversion and a 14-0 East Liverpool lead with 4:15 remaining in the first half.
The Potters opened the third quarter with a 63-yard drive that was capped when Miscuk forced his way in from two yards out for his second score of the game. Runs of 13 and 14 yards by English and a 23-yard run by Reynolds set up Miscuk's score.
Trailing 20-0, the Beavers found the end zone on their next possession when Cory Riddle pulled in a McLaughlin pass from 15 yards out for the tally. A big play in the drive was fullback Cody Martsolf's 23-yard rumble on fourth-and-two from the Potters' 42 which carried the ball to the Potter 19. Two plays later, McLaughlin and Riddle teamed up for the score. Justin McCoy connected on the conversion, leaving East Liverpool with a 20-7 lead.
Early in the fourth quarter, Beaver Local (2-7) took over on the Potter 42, following a punt. A 17-yard pass to Stratton was followed by Johnston toting the ball five consecutive times. His fifth carry took him into the end zone for Beaver Local's second score of the night. Once again McCoy connected on the PAT, bringing the Beavers to within six, 20-14.
"In the second half, once we started firing off the ball," said McElroy. "Johnston got better and better as the game wore on."
It looked as though the Beavers were going to score again, when they took over on the East Liverpool side of the field, at the 45-yard line.
Johnston carried the ball six consecutive times, getting as far as the Potter nine. Two more plays put the ball on the East Liverpool five, setting up a crucial fourth-and-one at the five. The Potter defense threw Johnston back for a four-yard loss, presumably clinching the game.
However, it wasn't over yet, as the Potters couldn't get a first down and were faced with having to punt from their own end zone. Prescott directed English, who does the punting, to run out of the end zone for the safety.
Following a free kick from their own 20, the Potters were able to stop the Beavers on downs, taking over for the final time with just 1:07 remaining.
"We were in poor field position, much of the second half," said Prescott. We wanted to force them make the long drive and force them to throw."
Beaver Local hosts Poland Friday in the season finale. East Liverpool also closes their season on Friday at Weir.
The two JV teams will oppose each other Saturday morning at 10 a.m. at Mangano Field on the campus of East Liverpool High School.
East Liverpool now leads the series 18-17.
EAST LIVERPOOL 6-8-6-0-20
BEAVER LOCAL 0-0-7-9-16
EL-John Miscuk 1 run (kick failed)
EL-Kaleb Tallent 75 fumble return (Zach English run)
EL-John Miscuk 2 run (kick failed)
BL-Cory Riddle 15 pass from Trevor McLaughlin (Justin McCoy kick)
BL-Robert Johnston 3 run (McCoy kick)
BL-safety, punter ran out of end zone
Total Yards 49-17658-2336
RUSHING-EAST LIVERPOOL Zach English 23-107, John Miscuk 5-12, Kade Reynolds 11-(-9), D.J. Austin 1-10, BEAVER LOCAL Robert Johnston 26-104, Cody Martsolf 1-23, Dustin Martsolf 2-4, Dylan Railing 2-6
PASSING-EAST LIVERPOOL Kade Reynolds 4-8-53-0, BEAVER LOCAL Travor McLaughlin 10-22-109-1.
RECEIVING-EAST LIVERPOOL D.J. Austin 1-0, John Miscuk 2-28, Austyn Dozier 1-25 BEAVER LOCAL Robert Johnston 3-12, Hayden Grafton 3-31, Tyler Stratton 3-47, Cory Riddle 1-15-1td
INTERCEPTIONS-EAST LIVERPOOL D.J. Austin