WHEELING - When many people think about all star games, they want razzle, dazzle and wide-open attacking offenses.
None of that mattered to Ohio head coach Eric Schumacher who's main focus all week leading up to the 67th annual Rudy Mumley OVAC All-Star Charity Football Classic was getting the Buckeye State back on the winning side.
Using an impressive combination of backs, a powerful, athletic offensive line and a fast defense, the Ohio squad snapped its two-game skid to its Mountain State counterparts, 33-14, before a large crowd Sunday night at Wheeling Island Stadium.
Ohio running back Josten Dear turns the corner for a big game during Sunday’s Rudy Mumley OVAC?All-Star Charity Football Classic. Training the play, for Ohio, is Tyler Fitzpatrick (80).
"It's great, not only for the state of Ohio, but for these kids to be able get a win in this game," Schumacher, the new head coach at Conotton Valley, said. "This is a night, and week, they'll remember for the rest of their lives."
Schumacher and offensive coordinator Jesse Wells, who is the head coach at Meadowbrook, thought that if they could establish the ground game and get talented tailbacks Josten Dear and Dashaun Lewis going on the ground, behind their offensive front, it could be a good night.
"We knew we had two pretty good backs and once we started having success early, we just stuck with it," Schumacher said. "We wanted to make this a memorable experience and the best way to do that is going out and winning the game."
Ohio attempted only 13 passes in the game, one of which was picked off and returned for the second West Virginia score by Wheeling Park product Vondell Bell. The Buckeyes didn't need to throw because they kept West Virginia off the field by virtue of 58 rushes for 313 yards.
"Showing off or being fancy was never in my mind," Schumacher said. "I never gave a thought to any of that. All we wanted to do was cap off a great week, with a great bunch of kids, with a victory."
After jumping out to a 13-0 lead thanks to a 3-yard plunge by Dear and a 1-yard tote by Lewis, West Virginia, which had done little on offense, took advantage of back-to-back Buckeye turnovers to snag the momentum with a 14-13 lead at halftime.
The Mountaineers got on the board when John Marshall's Aaron Fonner found Wheeling Central's Erik Gompers all alone on a 17-yard passing strike. The drive was started after Wheeling Park's Eli Stewart recovered a muffed punt.
On the ensuing possession, Bell stepped right in front of a pass from David Kemp and took it to the house from 33 yards away. Park's Matt Carter was perfect on both PATs.
"West Virginia did a good job of capitalizing on turnovers and I said earlier in the week that was a concern," Schumacher said. "I couldn't ask for anything more, though, in the second half. They were upset at half and they came out and played really well in the third quarter."
In the second half, the Ohio defense, which received standout performances from the likes of Matt Hammond, LeShawn Luke, William Houst, Josh Davis, Cole Smelley, Marky Thompkins and numerous others, forced a quick punt and the offense went right back to work with the same recipe it utilized in the first half ... run, run run.
"We were able to grab the momentum at the end of half and we talked in the lockerroom about being able to seize it and continue it," said West Virginia head coach Doug Taylor. "We thought when we got the kick that if we could sustain the drive, get a couple of first downs and just possess the ball for a little bit, we'd be okay. Give credit to Ohio."
Lewis waltzed into the end zone from a yard out, capping a 13-play drive, which outside of a Mountaineer penalty, was done exclusively on the ground.
After Thompkins picked off a pass, Ohio was back in business on the West Virginia 38. Four plays, later, Ohio had struck again. After Smelley, who played well at quarterback, took a busted play for 22 yards. Two plays later, Lewis went into the end zone again, this time from eight yards out.
All told, Lewis finished with 118 yards and three touchdowns on 24 carries.
"I didn't really think about how many carries or what kind of stats I would have," Lewis said. "I just hoped for the best for our team. Our line was amazing. They led the way, and I just ran through the hole."
Ohio went back to work with another short field after Hammond, who had two sacks, blocked a punt. Two plays later, it looked like Dear was headed for his second touchdown, but he fumbled into the end zone.
Dear's Buckeye Local teammate Jordan Piergallini was johnny-on-the-spot and pounced on it for the touchdown. Martins Ferry's Richie Padyjasek followed with his third PAT kick of the game, capping the scoring.
Dear, who was voted, by the fans, as game's MVP, finished with 149 yards and the score on 24 rushes.
Smelley added 31 yards on seven rushes and he passed for 44 yards.
The Ohio offensive line was impressive with Michael Camiletti, Mike Dalto, Elliott Albert, Shane Crum and C.J. Wise doing yeomans work all evening.
"We felt confident that we'd be able to run the ball well," Albert said. "(The line) is really proud of how well our backs played. Those guys ran hard. To win this game means everything. It's fun to just come here and watch, but playing in and winning it is unbelievable."
West Virginia was just never able to get untracked offensively. It finished with just 85 yards of total offense and only five first downs.
"I can't complain about our team's effort because I thought we played our hearts out until the very end," said Taylor. "I feel for the kids because they busted their tails all week, so to come up short, is tough and my heart goes out to them."
Staskey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org