RICHMOND - Martins Ferry's Arjay Burress fumbled on the sixth play of the game helping set Edison rolling toward a 21-0 advantage it held late in the second quarter.
Unfortunately for the Wildcats, that wasn't Burress' last word as the sophomore running back collected 154 of his 200 yards rushing and all three of his touchdowns in the second half en route to a 34-21 Purple Riders' victory Friday at Cartwright Field.
"He's a sophomore, and he doesn't want to fumble, but sometimes when you're giving great effort that will happen," said Martins Ferry head coach Dave Bruney. "He ran hard today. All of our backs blocked for each other, and our line did a great job, I couldn't be prouder of our team.
"Like Texas' coach Mack Brown says, 'there's nothing like a come from behind win on the road,' so we're real happy with that. It's two weeks in a row we were behind at the half and came back."
With the score standing 21-7 at intermission, the Wildcats took the second half kickoff and marched 48 yards in 12 plays down to the Martins Ferry 15-yard line. On third and nine Mark Douglas scooped up a Nolan Marcus fumble and brought it back to the Ferry 32.
Five plays later Burress drove in from three yards out. Big plays on the drive were a 31-yard run by Burress and a 22-yard run by Brian Styles. The extra point was blocked, but the Riders cut the lead to 21-13 with 5:00 left in the third quarter.
"We got it rolling early," said Edison head coach Derrick Stickles. "We were up 21-0. We got up, and they came back. We need to learn how to finish.
"That's the corner we have to turn from this point. We had them down, we have to learn to keep teams down, and finish the game."
A Wildcats three-and-out led to the Purple Riders tying the game.
Taking over at its own 21, Martins Ferry went 79 yards on seven run plays. Jahad Joyce ran over an Edison tackler on his 10-yard scoring run, and Styles ran in the two-point conversion to make the score 21-all with 34 second remaining in the third quarter.
Another Edison punt had Martins Ferry driving again, but Tyler Stagani recovered a Styles fumble at the Wildcats' 24-yard line to end the threat.
Ferry took the ball back three plays later when Jake Barritt dove in front of a Marcus pass for an interception, giving the Purple Riders the ball at the home team's 38.
Six plays later Burress scored from seven yards out. A second extra point was blocked, but Martins Ferry led for the first time at 27-21 with 3:14 left in the game.
"I think it's Martins Ferry," said Stickles. "They have a great coaching staff, they have great players, and they made good halftime adjustments. I think that's what it was. If you look at the game in the first half they were hitting us a lot inside with the run game.
"In the second half, they started using their speed on the edge, and they were getting the corner. They're running backs and quarterback were doing a great job."
Ferry's defense forced a turnover on downs when a Marcus pass to Rich Springer fell to the grass at the Riders' 44-yard line, and Burress put the finishing touches on the game with a 49-yard touchdown followed by an extra point with 29 seconds remaining to make the final 34-21.
"We haven't had a bad practice all year," said Bruney. "They had a good game plan. The speed of that zone read is very hard to simulate in practice when you have a freshman running it and then you're facing a good senior in the game.
"That's kind of tough, and they did a great job. My hat's off to them. My hats off to our kids too, though. This is our third game in a row on the road, and we just found a way to do it."
The first half saw Edison score touchdowns on its first three possessions.
Marcus went in on runs of one and 11 yards and also connected with Storm Allese on a 22-yard touchdown toss. Marcus had 197 yards passing with a score and pick to go with 89 yards and two scores on the ground. Most of his damage was done in the first half when he had 129 yards passing and 79 rushing. Allese had 115 yards on six catches with a score.
Bruce Burger scored from one-yard out with 21 second left in the first half for Ferry's first score.
Styles had a strong game for Ferry, joining Burress in triple digits with 128 yards rushing. The Purple Riders gained 376 stripes on 50 run plays. They threw just three times with Jack Fitch pulling in Styles' lone completion for a 17-yard gain.
Edison (4-5) hosts rival Indian Creek next Friday.
Martins Ferry (8-1) travels to Bellaire next Saturday with a share of the Buckeye 8 title on the line.