Field goal wins it in OT after rally
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HERSHEY, Pa. -- A year ago, Ohio pounded Pennsylvania by 36 points in the Big 33 Classic, but what happened Saturday night at HersheyPark Stadium may have hurt the Keystone State even more.
Ohio rallied from a 14-point deficit with two fourth-quarter scores within a span of 17 seconds and then went on post a 24-21 overtime victory in the 55th Big 33 Classic before a crowd of about 6,000.
The deciding points in Ohio's fourth consecutive win in the series came off the foot of Tyler Grassman, who kicked a 39-yard field goal.
Pennsylvania had a chance to answer, but the host team's first play in overtime was a pass play that flicked off the hands of Hopewell's Rushel Shell and was intercepted by Ohio's Nana Kyeremeh to end it.
It was Pennsylvania's sixth turnover of the game, fifth in the second half and fifth on an interception.
And perhaps the most costly of the giveaways came on the kickoff after Ohio had scored to draw within 21-14.
Desmond Peoples from PIAA Class AAA champ Archbishop Wood came out of the end zone after taking the kickoff, then went back into the end zone and nearly put his knee down.
He came back out and tried to escape a swarm of Ohio players.
Peoples lost the ball at the goal line and E.J. Junior recovered in the end zone for the tying score.
"It's an emotional game and [Peoples] got caught up on the emotion on that play," Pennsylvania coach Mike Brennan said. "There is a lot of pride in this game and to have control of the game and not win it, it's disappointing.
"It was still a great football game and a great experience for the players and coaches, but sure, it stings right now."
Pennsylvania never trailed until the field goal in overtime.
On Pennsylvania's third play from scrimmage, Florida-bound quarterback Skyler Mornhinweg, a St. Joseph's Prep product and son of Philadelphia Eagles assistant coach Marty Mornhinweg, found Kevin Gulyas for a 61-yard touchdown pass.
"It's all man-to-man [coverage] in this game and that benefits the receivers, and I just gave my guy a quick shake and was open on a corner post," Gulyas said. "It was wide open and a great way to start the game.'
Pennsylvania added a second touchdown in the second quarter when Rutgers-bound quarterback Blake Rankin from Bloomsburg hit Shakim Alonzo of Woodland Hills for a 13-yard touchdown. Rankin was named Pennsylvania's MVP.
Ohio, limited to 116 yards of offense in the first half by a quick Pennsylvania defense, struck back in a hurry on an 85-yard pass from Michigan State-bound quarterback Tyler O'Connor to Ohio State recruit Najee Murray.
But Pennsylvania regained the two-touchdown edge with an 85-yard drive that culminated in a 4-yard touchdown pass from Rankin to Shaler's J.P. Holtz.
Pennsylvania led, 21-7, after three quarters and was still up by that margin with under seven minutes to play when the back-to-back scores turned the tide.
"We just had turnover after turnover and it all went downhill in the second half," Gulyas said. "You can't win any game when you turn it over four or five times."
O"Connor, who ran for one touchdown in addition to his passing score, was named Ohio's MVP and received the trophy from Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, the game's honorary chairman.
O'Connor was 9 for 23 for 161 yards.
Mornhinweg and Rankin combined for 15 of 23 for 261 yards, but threw five interceptions.
First Published June 17, 2012 12:00 am