STEUBENVILLE - For the second straight season, the nightcap of the Ohio Valley Athletic Conference Kickoff Classic did not disappoint as Oak Glen and Edison put on a show for the fans in attendance at Harding Stadium.
On the heels of last season's exciting 29-28 win, the Golden Bears pulled out another victory this year, downing the Wildcats 37-28.
On the Edison's second possession, it had the first of two touchdowns called back when a 12-yard run by Chris Graziani was erased due to a block in the back penalty.
OPENER — Oak Glen senior Justin Stivason carries the ball after one of his three catches during Thursday’s 37-28 victory over Edison at Harding Stadium.
-- Ron Gardner
That drive stalled, but the Wildcats wasted no time in taking the ball back when, on Oak Glen's second play of its ensuing possession, Clayton Flowers was stripped after a reception and the ball was pounced on by Edison's Matt Coppa.
Two plays later, Graziani crossed the goal line (and it counted) on a 13-yard jaunt. Nolan Marcus punched the point after through and Edison led 7-0.
The Golden Bears ran off the next 29 points to take firm command of the game.
The first score was set up by a 76-yard run by quarterback Bub Haddox on a second-and-22 that put the Golden Bears at the Wildcats' 6-yard line. David Campbell scored on the next play and Josh Weltner kicked the extra point to tie the game at 7 with six seconds left in the first quarter.
"Obviously the Haddox kid made some great plays," said Edison head coach Mike McKenzie. "He broke the one that got it tied up 7-7. The big difference was the second quarter, and you point to a few things.
"We can all look at ourselves, coaches and players, and say we could have done something better to help the team. It's not one person. We win together as a team and we lose together as a team."
Haddox did it all himself on Oak Glen's next opportunity, running for a 77-yard score on the first play. Flowers picked up a botched snap on the extra point, rolled out and hit Cole Holloway for the two-point conversion and a 15-7 advantage at the 10:42 mark of the second quarter.
"The kid is an amazing athlete," Oak Glen head coach Ian Whittington said of Haddox. "He can run, throw and do it all. Our offensive coordinator game-planned to get him outside and he executed."
The Oak Glen defense forced Edison into a turnover on downs that gave its offense the ball at the Wildcats' 35-yard line. It took just two plays to score from there as Zack Staley ran in from 31-yards out and Weltner was true on his second point after to make score 22-7 with 8:18 left in the first half. Things went from bad to worse for the Wildcats with about four-and-a-half minutes left in the first half when Oak Glen defensive tackle Preston Murray picked off a screen pass and returned it 25 yards for the score. Weltner's extra point set the score at 29-7.
Oak Glen looked set to go into the half with the big lead when momentum swung dramatically toward Edison.
The Golden Bears attempted to punt with under a minute in the first half, but the snap sailed over Weltner's head, where it was picked up by Graziani at the 31-yard line and returned for a score. Ethan Shannon threw to Marcus for the two-point conversion and the halftime lead was cut to 29-15.
Oak Glen was forced to punt on its first possession of the second half and Weltner placed it beautifully at the 1-yard line.
That allowed Graziani to pick up 99 the quick way as the Wildcats' running back took it the distance on Edison's first play of the half. Marcus knocked through the point after and the score was 29-22 early in the third quarter.
"We gave up one big play on defense and that was on a blown assignment," said Whittington. "That happens in football. You don't want to see it again, but it does happen.
"Other than that, I thought we played pretty well defensively. We got a few sacks, three interceptions, and we made plays when we needed to."
After forcing a punt, the Wildcats took over in Golden Bears' territory at the 46 yard line. It took six plays to score with the big play being a 30-yard Marcus scamper down to the 1. Marcus did the honors from there to pull within one at 29-28 with a chance to tie on the extra point.
"They came out and fought," said McKenzie. "We could have easily given up, but we didn't. We got it back close.
"We just didn't finish. That seems to be our theme. It's what we talked about all off season. We have to finish. We just didn't finish."
Edison didn't tie the score as the point after was blocked by Oak Glen and that was as close as the Wildcats reached.
"I thought it was about to be a repeat of last season and I didn't want anything to do with it," said Whittington. "I told our offensive coordinator we need to run the clock and get the ball in the end zone.
"He did a great job. I really want to commend coach (Derrick) Stickles on that."
The Golden Bears marched 69 yards on nine plays, including a 31-yard pass from Haddox to Flowers and a 3-yard TD run by Haddox. A second botched snap on an extra point turned out to be big for Oak Glen as Flowers again rolled out and threw a two-point conversion pass, this time to Staley, to set the lead at 37-28.
"What I did was tell them to calm down, breathe and everything will be all right," said Whittington about what he told his team when Edison pulled within one. "You have to have a short memory in football. One bad play happens, it has to go out the door, and you have to be ready the next play. That showed again tonight."
Early in the fourth quarter, Edison appeared to have made it a one score game again when Devan Tennat made a spectacular one-handed catch of a Marcus throw, but the score was called back due to a procedure penalty and the Wildcats never threatened again.
"We had two touchdowns called back for penalties on drives we didn't end up scoring on," said McKenzie. "We had another opportunity where we didn't score in the first quarter. If we're up 14 to 21-0 it's a drastically different game, but we didn't."
Haddox led the Golden Bears with 151 yards rushing and two scores on 15 carries. He added 77 yards passing as well.
Graziani paced Edison with 138 yards on 18 runs and two rushing scores. Marcus added 110 yards and a score on 16 carries. He also threw for 78 yards.
Oak Glen (1-0) hosts Wellsville next Friday and Edison travels to Carrollton.
"It feels amazing," said Whittington of the win. "I was so nervous today in school. It's great to get that monkey off our back and we can get ready to go for next week.
"Now we start preparing for Wellsville."
Oak Glen 37, Edison 28
Oak Glen 7 22 8 0 - 37
Edison 7 8 13 0 - 28
E: Graziani 13 run (Marcus kick)
OG: Campbell 6 run (Weltner kick)
OG: Haddox 77 run (Holloway pass from Flowers)
OG: Staley 31 run (Weltner kick)
OG: Murray 25 interception return (Weltner kick)
E: Graziani 31 fumble recovery (Marcus pass from Shannon)
E: Graziani 99 run (Marcus kick)
E: Marcus 1 run (kick blocked)
OG: Haddox 3 run (Staley pass from Flowers)
RUSHING: Oak Glen 38-269-4 (Haddox 15-151-2, Smith 8-32, Campbell 7-27-1, Staley 5-59-1, Flowers 2-12, Weltner 1-(-12)); Edison 35-249-3 (Graziani 18-138-2, Marcus 16-110-1, Shannon 1-1).
PASSING: Oak Glen 10-13-77 (all by Haddox); Edison 6-23-78-3INT (all by Marcus).
RECEIVING: Oak Glen (Flowers 5-49, Stivason 3-16, Smith 2-12); Edison (Virtue 3-20, Ross 1-41, Pasek 1-10, Graziani 1-7).
FIRST DOWNS: Oak Glen 14; Edison 13.
PENALTIES-YARDS: Oak Glen 8-77; Edison 6-48.
FUMBLES-LOST: Oak Glen 5-3; Edison 0-0.