Big 33 Classic — Ohio Makes It Four In a Row with 24-21 Overtime Win Over Pennsylvania
By Tony Gerdeman
Leading 24-21 in overtime, Ohio defensive back Nana Kyeremeh intercepted a Skyler Mornhinweg pass on Pennsylvania's first play from scrimmage to seal the Buckeye state's fourth-consecutive win, which no team had ever before accomplished in the classic's 55-year history.
Ohio quarterback, and Michigan State signee, Tyler O'Connor was named Ohio's MVP after compiling a one-yard touchdown run and an 85-yard touchdown pass to future Buckeye Najee Murray.
The heavily-favored Pennsylvania team got on the board quickly when Mornhinweg, a Florida signee who was once a Penn State commit, hit Kevin Gulyas over the middle for a 61-yard touchdown. Ohio State signee Devan Bogard was in the slot in coverage on Gulyas, but bit on a play-action fake and soon found himself chasing Gulyas into the endzone.
Pennsylvania made it 14-0 on a 13-yard back-shoulder pass from Blake Rankin to Shakim Alonzo and went into halftime with that score.
Ohio finally got on the board when O'Connor found Murray on a skinny post for an 85-yard touchdown. O'Connor got rid of the pass just as he was being hit. The ball was just over the defender's outstretched hands and right into Murray's, who then raced the rest of the way into the endzone untouched.
Murray told his coaches before the game that he loved the skinny post in the slot and in man-to-man coverage, he always gets open. He was correct.
Pennsylvania answered right back, driving the ball the length of the field and scoring on a five-yard touchdown pass from Rankin to J.P. Holtz to make it 21-7. The pass floated over Bogard's head as he was trying to defend a pair of receivers.
Ohio made it 21-14 when O'Connor plunged in from one yard out with just 6:27 remaining in the game. On the previous play, he picked up a crucial fourth and five via a scramble.
On the ensuing kickoff, a muff by Desmon Peoples at the three-yard line saw the ball bounce into the endzone. He then recovered the ball, began to return it by leaving the endzone, then thought better of it and went back into the endzone and took a knee. But perhaps because the Pennsylvania referees are notoriously one-sided in this game, they didn't blow the whistle on the safety, and immediately after taking a knee, Peoples began to run parallel with the goal line, eventually fumbling the ball when Illinois signee Mason Monheim hit him. Ohioan E.J. Junior recovered the ball in the endzone to give Ohio the touchdown, making it 21-21 with 6:10 to play.
Later in the quarter, Mornhinweg threw an interception in Pennsylvania territory with under two minutes to play, but Ohio went three and out.
The game eventually went to overtime and Ohio's Tyler Grassman kicked a 39-yard field goal to make it 24-21. It was on the next snap for Pennsylvania then when Mornhinweg threw the aforementioned game-ending interception.
Assorted Individual Impressions
Najee Murray, CB Steubenville 5'11" 185 (Ohio St.)
Murray was clearly the best defender on the Ohio side of the field. He was terrific in run support, coming up once to drop All-American running back Rushel Shell for a two-yard loss. He shied away from nothing and is very fundamentally sound. He is also confident, telling his coaches that he played the slot in high school and couldn't be covered. Murray's best football is clearly ahead of him, and the fact that he already knows how to do some of the little things will make it an easier transition for him.
Devan Bogard, LB/S Glenville 6'0" 190 (Ohio St.)
Bogard, who will likely play in the secondary for Ohio State, had some coverage issues, which shouldn't be a surprise. He will need to be taught how to play safety, or star, but he will not need to be taught how to hit, because he's already pretty good at that. Until he can learn the defense that Ohio State wants him to play, he seems like he could be a pretty good candidate for special teams.
Warren Ball, RB St. Francis De Sales 6'2" 215 (Ohio St.)
Ball looks every bit of 6'2" 215, and it wouldn't be a surprise if he was actually heavier. But don't worry, because he showed the speed to get to the outside. If anything, he looked to get to the outside too often, but with Ohio's undermanned offensive line, it was understandable. Ball has tremendous patience when running wide and looking for a hole to slice into, and he usually finds it. When he's running north and south, he has a nice lean to him and always falls forward. He also showed the ability to make the first man miss when carrying the ball, which is generally half the battle. Unofficially, he finished with 12 carries for 47 yards and two receptions for 17 yards.
Frank Epitropoulos, WR Up. Arlington 6'3" 200 (Ohio St.)
Epitropoulos was held out of this game with a hamstring strain.
Mason Monheim, LB Orrville 6'1" 230 (Illinois)
Monheim started out slowly, showing an inability to match cuts with the Pennsylvania skill players, but that's not unusual in an all-star game. In the second half, however, Monheim made two huge plays to get Ohio back into the game. The first came on an interception of Skyler Mornhinweg deep in Pennsylvania territory, which led to an Ohio touchdown to make it 21-14. The second came on the very next kickoff when Monheim forced a fumble that Ohio recovered in the endzone to tie the game. Ohio State took a pretty long look at Monheim under Luke Fickell, but eventually decided to pass. If he continues to show a knack like this, it will certainly be Illinois' gain.
Tyler O'Connor, QB Lima Cent. Cath. 6'3" 215 (Mich. St.)
O'Connor looked to be a typical Spartan quarterback. He wasn't very accurate and more often than not his receivers had to make the plays for him. He will almost certainly redshirt and season for a few years before being ready to be looked at as a starting quarterback in the Big Ten.
Eugene Lewis, WR E.L. Meyers 6'2" 195 (Penn State)
Lewis got the better of Murray on a deep jump ball, but Lewis also pushed off. He's certainly athletic, and showed an ability to catch the ball at its highest point. It would not be a surprise to see Lewis being counted on this season as Penn State needs all of the offensive weapons it can find to overcome their quarterbacking. At least Lewis showed an ability to catch a pass with a defender right near the ball, which should come in handy with Matt McGloin throwing to him this year.
Skyler Mornhinweg, QB St. Joseph's 6'3" 215 (Florida)
Without being too critical, it's hard to see how Mornhinweg was such a coveted prospect. After seeing quite a few of these games, I couldn't tell the difference between Mornhinweg or any of the past quarterbacks who were going to schools like Towson or Youngstown State.
Rushel Shell, RB Hopewell 5'11" 215 (Pittsburgh)
Shell only carried the ball a few times, but was effective when he did. He didn't seem overly fast, but he certainly covers ground well. It would have been nice to see him more, but he was on the sideline for long stretches of the game. Perhaps that was as a favor to new Pitt head coach Paul Chryst, who will use Shell this year quite a bit.
Nyeem Wartman, LB Valley View 6'3" 230 (Penn State)
Wartman had some pretty nice hits in this game, reminding me of former Nittany Lion linebacker Navorro Bowman. He had a big hit on Warren Ball, who was catching a pass out of the backfield. Afterward he spoke to a sideline reporter to talk about the hit, and pointed out that he was targeting future Buckeyes.
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