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Big Red takes care of Martins Ferry, 43-14

FOLLOWING ALONG — Steubenville’s Spencer Ostovich rushes behind a block from teammate Ty Pierce during Friday’s contest against Martins Ferry. (Photo by Joe Lovell)

STEUBENVILLE — Big Red turned its first five possessions into touchdowns and rolled to a 43-14 victory over Martins Ferry Friday on Reno Field inside Harding Stadium.

The first meeting between the programs since 1962 was quickly arranged on Thursday after both teams lost previously scheduled opponents due to COVID-19-related issues. With the win, Big Red improves to 5-3, while the Purple Riders fall to 4-5. The all-time series now stands at 14-14-3.

“Always good to get a win,” Big Red coach Reno Saccoccia said. “I want to congratulate both teams for the effort tonight. Coming off playoff losses (Steubenville fell to Dover, while Martins Ferry was eliminated by Sandy Valley), both teams could have gone home and said the heck with it.

“Martins Ferry came out and fought, and we came out and fought. We got a couple of breaks early and were able to take advantage of them. That was the name of the game.”

The Purple Riders got a break on the opening kick. Evan Carpenter’s boot hit the back of a Big Red player, and Jesse Nagel recovered at the Big Red 46. Coach Chas Yoder’s club, however, was unable to capitalize on the great field possession.

Big Red needed just six snaps to cover 72 yards for the game’s first touchdown. It came on a 6-yard run by Spencer Ostovich. After forcing another Martins Ferry punt, the hosts went 44 yards on four plays. This time, Rodney James Jr. sprinted 32 yards to the house.

The score moved to 22-0 late in the opening quarter when James took a Cade Kernahan handoff and motored 68 yards to pay dirt.

Early in the second quarter, Martins Ferry put together a long drive, marching 75 yards. Chase Goff capped the march when he went over from a yard out.

Big Red needed just one play to answer. Kyjhaun Hopkins burst up the middle and quickly went 58 yards. The Purple Riders started their ensuing possession at their own 35. Quarterback Logan Smith found Trevor Hanson for a 52-yard gain. Unfortunately, Hanson lost the handle on the ball, and Big Red’s Niko Suriano recovered.

Saccoccia’s crew then went 77 yards for its fifth touchdown of the half. This time, Ostovich bulled over from 4-yards away.

In the opening half, Big Red ran the football 27 times for 366 yards and the five touchdowns. James accounted for 169 of those yards on just eight carries, all coming during the opening 12 minutes.

“It was a tough situation for both teams, and neither team had much time to prepare,” Saccoccia said. “But, Martins Ferry defended us well. We broke some tackles early, got some breaks early and took advantage of them.

“I thought both teams played a really good, physical, smart and clean football games. There were hardly any penalties (each team drew three flags). It was a clean, hard fought, well-coached game on both sides. I’m happy that the kids on both teams had the opportunity to play a football game.”

Gavin Bozica accounted for Big Red’s final touchdown on a 6-yard run. Ferry’s David Skvarka scooped up a Steubenville fumble in the fourth quarter and returned it 58 yards.

Steubenville finished the game with 451 rushing yards on 48 carries. Hopkins compiled 94 yards on just five trips, while Ostovich toted the pigskin 11 times for 83 yards.

Big Red held the Riders to just 4 rushing yards. Smith did throw for 147 yards, completing 10 of his 18 attempts. He was picked off once by Nasari Jackson. Goff and Alex Bennett each had four catches for Ferry.

“We are super proud of our guys,” Yoder said. “We wanted to play — period. We got canceled on Thursday around 1:30 p.m., right before we were heading for practice. I was scrambling trying to figure out what to say. This was the fear all year long, and it finally happened. The kids have worked too hard not to play.

“We are not scared to play anyone. I am super grateful for coach Reno’s call. You always talk about want to be the best or as close to it as you can. This program (Big Red) is. We want to get a close to them as we can. I’m not sure how you do that without seeing what it is like for real — lining up and playing, not a scrimmage. It would be really hard to prepare for them in a week let alone a day. I’m super proud of our guys, and I am super thankful for the opportunity to play.”

UP NEXT

When discussing the possibility of additional games (there are none scheduled as of now) for his Big Red, Saccoccia said, “Where there is a will, there is a way.

“I told our players how much I appreciated their effort and their love of the game. Then I told whoever wants to keep playing to be here at 11 a.m. (Saturday), and I am sure they will be here. It is going to be tough getting a game especially with all the playoff games that were postponed tonight. We’ll just have to wait and see.”

Martins Ferry still hopes to play its annual rivalry game with Bellaire.

“It all depends on what Bellaire does in its playoff game (the Big Reds visit Garaway tonight),” Yoder said. “If they win, we could play the following week. If not, we will play them next Friday at home.”

Steubenville 43, Martins Ferry 14

Martins Ferry 0 6 0 8 — 14

Steubenville 22 14 7 0 — 43

S — Ostovich 6 run (Jackson run)

S — James 32 run (Ostovich run)

S — James 68 run (kick failed)

M — Goff 1 run (run failed)

S — Hopkins 58 run (Rook kick)

S — Ostovich 4 run (Rook kick)

S — Bozica 3 run (Rook kick)

M — Skvarka 58 fumble return (Carpenter pass from Smith)

RUSHING: Martins Ferry 21-4-td (Smith 7-(-4); Carpenter 5-3; Goff 6-7-td; Hanson 1-3; Lacy 2-(-5)); Big Red 50-451-6tds (James 8-169-2tds; Ostovich 11-83-2tds; Hopkins 5-94-td; Sims 5-27; Bozica 9-38-td; Pierce 1-2; Thorn 4-24; Stoddard 2-5; Foulkes 4-14; Team 1-(-5)).

PASSING: Martins Ferry 11-20-161-int (Smith 10-18-147-int; Weir 1-2-14); Big Red 3-8-21 (Kernahan 0-2; Hill 3-6-21).

RECEIVING: Martins Ferry 11-161 (Goff 4-35; Bennett 4-19; Hanson 1-52; Redinger 2-55); Big Red 3-21 (Hill 3-21).

FIRST DOWNS: Martins Ferry 6; Big Red 22.

PENALTIES-YARDS: Martins Ferry 3-35; Big Red 3-11.

PUNTS: Martins Ferry 3-35; Big Red 0-0.

FUMBLES-LOST: Martins Ferry 1-1; Big Red 3-3.

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