BEAVER FALLS, Pa-With Ohio trailing 13-7 late in the second quarter of Friday's Penn-Ohio Stateline Classic, Columbiana running back Britton Steiginga fielded a punt and streaked into the end zone for an apparent game-tying touchdown, only to have the play called back due to an illegal block.
It was a play that symbolized the entire game for an Ohio squad that made a number of big plays but saw their effort hindered by untimely penalties and turnovers.
"That play felt awesome, Steiginga said. "I thought I had a touchdown when I crossed the goal line, but I didn't see the flag. I can't believe it got called back."
Two plays later, Moon's Colton McKay returned an interception 50 yards for a touchdown to give Pennsylvania a 19-7 lead. Later in the first half, a fumbled punt gave Pennsylvania another touchdown making it 25-7 at the half.
In all, Ohio committed 10 penalties for 115 yards as well as five turnovers in a 25-22 loss to Pennsylvania.
"We played a great game for the most part and we felt like we should have won," Steiginga said. "Those mistakes were huge, that's where the game got away from us."
Ohio nearly wiped away the miscues with a huge second-half comeback.
With Pennsylvania still ahead 25-7 late in the third quarter and trying to put the game away, Steiginga made up for his earlier disappointment by scooping up a fumble and racing 70 yards for a touchdown, putting Ohio back within two scores.
"That play definitely made up for the punt return," Steiginga said. "It felt good to score a defensive touchdown after not seeing much action on offense."
Midway through the fourth quarter, Pennsylvania was again threatening to put the game out of reach when they faced fourth-and-goal from the one yard line up by 10. The Ohio defense stiffened at the right time however, as Crestview's Dylan Douglass got good penetration from his defensive tackle spot clearing the way for Steubenville's Tajuan Lawson to make the stop and give Ohio new life.
"I knew we needed a stop," Douglass said. "Everyone needed to dig in. I was able to get some nice penetration and we made the play."
After Ohio closed to within three on a 71-yard touchdown pass from Southern Local's Luke Griffith to South Range's Robby Seman, Douglass and the defense were back on the field with 1:50 left and Pennsylvania facing fourth-and one at their own 20 yard-line. One more stop and Ohio would be in prime position to snatch away the win. However, another costly play surfaced at exactly the wrong time. Douglass and Steubenville's Manard Reed both jumped offsides, giving Pennsylvania a fresh set of downs. Ohio would not get the ball back.
"Reed and I both saw the ball move on the other side," Douglass said. "That's why we jumped. It's too bad that it had to end that way. With the way the second half was going we had a great chance to win."
Even though, they were disappointed that the key plays didn't swing in their favor, Douglass and Steiginga were both satisfied with the overall experience.
"It was a really fun time playing and competing with your peers," Douglass said. "When we were coming back in the second half there was a lot of energy on the sideline. That's something I'll always remember."
"This tops off my senior year," Steiginga said. "To be able suit up one more time in high school in this game was a great way to go out."
Ohio game MVP Nick Blower of Crestview was featured prominently on Ohio's first scoring drive midway through the second quarter. Blower accounted for 40 yards of a 12-play 60-yard drive, with the big play being a 4th-and 17 pass that quarterback Luke Griffith threaded to Blower between the defense, giving Ohio a first and goal at the nine. Blower carried three more time from there to give Ohio its first score after falling behind 13-0.
Blackhawk High School wide receiver Alex Caratelli-the Pennsylvania game MVP-was held to two catches for 38 yards and no touchdowns in the second half after four catches totaling 88 yards and three touchdowns in the first half.
"We changed up our defense on him after the early part of the game," Steiginga said. "He was such a big body, we had no choice but to double team him."