Game of the Week

Epic Orrville and Gilmour Academy regional semifinal goes to 3OT

When used as an adjective, “epic” means heroic or grand in scale or character. The Div. V Region 17 semifinal football playoff pairing between the undefeated Gilmour Academy Lancers and Orrville Red Riders on Saturday, Nov. 10 turned into an epic triple-overtime contest that left both teams and their fans exhausted.

In the end Orrville (10-2) prevailed 50-43 and ended the Lancers’ (11-1) hopes for a perfect season, but it would be the heroic efforts on both sides of the football that made this game one to remember along with two of Northeast Ohio’s top tailbacks who each rushed for over 200 yards.

Orrville’s sophomore sensation, Marquael Parks, had yet another remarkable five-TD night for the Red Riders, where he finished with 198 yards rushing (four TDs) and 71 yards receiving (one TD). Logan Domer also had a big night for the red and white. The senior signal caller completed 10 of 24 passes for 141 yards and two TDs to go along with his 99 yards on the ground.

Gilmour Academy has a stellar tailback of their own. The Red Rider defense held C.J. Charleston in check for the majority of the first half, but the senior refused to roll over and had a monster second half before he was forced out midway through the fourth quarter with a rib injury. Charleston had racked up a mind-boggling 2,352 rushing yards and 47 touchdowns for the season prior to Saturday’s showdown. Against Orrville he tacked on an additional 232 rushing yards and three TDs (all scored in the second half) to wrap up a remarkable record-breaking senior campaign for the Lancers.

Orrville’s offense started the game with possession of the ball, and the Red Riders seemed to be well on their way to light up the score board when senior wide-out Donoven Hall took the hand-off from Domer and turned up field for 36 yards before he was called out of bounds at the goal line.

However, the Lancer defense got a big stop, and officials ruled that Domer coughed up the football when the ball hit the turf, giving Gilmour Academy’s offense their first possession of the game on their own 3 yard line. It was the Lancer defense’s first of four forced turnovers on the evening.

The Lancers were the first to find pay-dirt when senior quarterback Jack Krebs tucked the ball under his wing and ran up the middle of the field for the 42-yard TD (Max Mendels’ extra-point kick was good). With 6:37 remaining in the first quarter, the Lancers led 7-0.

Orrville responded with a nice drive down the field on their next possession that was capped off with a 3-yard TD run by Hall, who barreled over three defenders at the goal line (Cain Duskey’s extra-point kick was good). It was all square at 7-7 at the end of the opening quarter.

The Lancers tried to get Charleston going in the rushing game, but Orrville’s front four and linebackers did a great job of keeping him in check and forcing the Lancer offense off the field. Domer opened the second quarter with an 11-yard scoring strike to senior wide-out Jason Suppan for six (Duskey XP was good), and Orrville held its first lead of the game at 14-7 with 11:55 left in the half.

Orrville closed out the first half when Domer continued his attack of the Lancer defense by hitting Parks in full stride for a 55-yard TD completion with 3:49 left in the second quarter. The Riders pulled off some trickery on the extra point when Suppan took the direct snap and beat everyone to the right pylon for two points.

Gilmour and Orrville both traded an offensive series before the end of the half in what amounted to some sloppy play that eventually stalled both sides of the ball. After the initial adrenaline rush to open the game, the brutal cold temperatures from a relentless wind was bound to affect players on both teams.

With the Red Riders leading 22-7 at the half and the Lancers seemingly a bit shell-shocked by facing their first two-score deficit of the season, it appeared Orrville was well on their way to the victory. Orrville’s defensive front four continued their relentless pursuit of Charleston to open the half and stall Gilmour’s first possession of the third quarter.

However, Charleston and company weren’t done. In fact Charleston was just getting warmed up. He finally found daylight when he scampered around the left tackle and hopped his way to a 13-yard TD (Mendels XP was good) with 4:55 left in the third quarter. Charleston’s score not only closed the deficit to make it a 22-14 ball game, but it also gave Gilmour Academy some much needed confidence.

Four minutes later Parks scored his second TD of the game (and broke Orrville High School’s record for rushing yards in a single season) on a 3-yard carry around the left side of his offensive line to give Orrville more breathing room with 0:36 left in the third quarter (Duskey XP was good) and a 29-14 lead. However, Charleston threw the Lancer offense on his back and torched the Rider defense on Gilmour’s next possession to the tune of a 64-yard TD run (Mendels’ XP was good). With 0:11 left in the third quarter, Orrville led 29-21, and all in attendance knew they were in store for a slugfest.

Gilmour’s defense pounced on another loose ball, and the Rider turnover set up Charleston’s third TD of the half when he rumbled 41 yards to the end zone in yet another big-time moment for the Lancers. Coach Chris Kosiorek knew his team had to go for two points and the tie after Charleston’s heroics, and Krebs rolled left and dropped in a perfectly thrown pass to Charleston to tie the game at 29-29 with 8:06 left in the fourth quarter.

Gilmour’s defense had found their groove and continued to pressure Orrville’s offense on the next series with the Lancers’ Jack Kosar deflecting a Domer pass attempt, followed by the blue and white’s front four earning a coverage sack on the next play to set up an Orrville incompletion on third and long to force Orrville to punt. The Red Rider defense and Ben Summers returned the favor on Gilmour’s next series, and both defenses were digging in and refusing to lose.

The Red Riders coughed up another turnover when the Lancer punt touched an Orrville player and Gilmour Academy recovered the live ball. With 4:08 left in regulation, the Lancers had clawed their way back into the game and were looking to retake the lead for the first time since the early moments of the first quarter. However, Krebs went for the big pass play, and Orrville’s Suppan made a fantastic play on the ball for the interception.

Orrville had the ball and a chance to drive down the field to put the game away. Unfortunately for the Red Rider faithful, that did not come to fruition as the Riders were called for a holding penalty and the Lancer defense forced Orrville into another punt to give Gilmour the ball on their own 30-yard line and a chance to win it with 2:01 left in the game. Krebs connected with a wide-open Michael Cerer one minute later on a potentially game-winning pass play that ended as a 34-yard completion, but the Lancers ran out of clock, and regulation ended in a 29-29 tie, forcing overtime.

As much as the Lancer defense bottled up Parks in the second half of play, he and the Riders’ offensive line stepped up when it mattered most with Orrville’s season on the line in overtime. The Red Riders began the extra period with the ball first and scored when Parks tumbled into the end zone for the 2-yard score (Duskey XP was good) to put Orrville back on top 36-29 with Gilmour Academy getting the ball for a chance to continue the game.

The Lancer offense came on the field but without Charleston, who was attending to a painful rib injury. Krebs didn’t let it slow them down as he scrambled away from the Orrville pressure and calmly found Michael Snelling in the back of the end zone for six. Mendels’ XP was good to tie the game at 36-36 and force a second overtime.

Gilmour began the second overtime period with the ball first, and now the Lancers were without Krebs as their signal caller, who suffered a painful hip injury that knocked him out of the game. Yet again the Lancers didn’t let the change at quarterback phase them as Snelling stepped in under center and led Gilmour Academy to the first score of OT2 when Snelling kept the ball on a keeper and scored from 1 yard out. It appeared the ball might have become loose at the goal line with Orrville recovering it for a touchback; however, the officials rules Snelling broke the plane of the goal line before losing control. Gilmour now led 43-36 with Orrville having one shot to answer and extend the game.

Parks scored his fourth TD of the game moments later in double overtime on an 8-yard rush, and a lot of pressure was starting to build on the kickers from both schools as each XP attempt came down to a clutch moment that determined their team’s post-season fate. Cain Duskey calmly booted the XP, and the game was once again tied 43-43, forcing yet another overtime period.

In triple overtime Orrville’s offense started with the ball, and Parks once again showed his flare for big-time moments in big-time games when he took the direct snap and hit the hole on the left side of the line for his fifth TD of the game and third TD of OT. Duskey once again nailed the XP kick, and Orrville led 50-43 with Gilmour’s offense still having a chance to respond.

Snelling and the Lancer offense had another excellent opportunity to tie, but his pass attempt to Sam Casa in the corner of the end zone sailed long, ending the game and sending Orrville into an exhausted celebration.

In a triple-overtime game that became an instant classic, it was hard to see either school lose as both teams fought hard all the way to the end, leaving everything they had on the field in the form of total effort, pride and desire to win.

Coaches corner

It was a tough defeat for coach Kosiorek’s crew to see their dream for an undefeated season come to an end, but the Lancers have nothing to hang their heads about. Kosiorek was proud of how his team responded to the early deficit.

“We knew coming in it would be this type of game. We saw how Orrville got up on Manchester 21-0 and Manchester came back, so that is what our thought process was at halftime. Good teams are never out of it, so we talked about it and executed much better in the second half. C.J. popped some runs. We put the ball in the end zone, and defensively we went against a pretty dynamic group of young men, but we just couldn’t keep them out of the end zone one more time. A memory is going to be made by the way our young men played out here tonight. We were banged up, but we kept going and didn’t quit. I’m very proud of our guys. Unfortunately someone had to lose, and we took that tonight.”

Orrville head coach Doug Davault was happy to get the win. “I thought our execution in the first half on both sides of the ball was good. We played our butts off, and that is the most contained I’ve seen number 13 get in any of the films we watched. We didn’t come out with the same kind of energy in the second half. I think our kids thought [Gilmour] was done, and they were certainly not. You have to give all the credit in the world to Gilmour for battling back. I’m proud of our kids for hanging in there and staying in the game because we had a couple of opportunities where we could have let it snowball, but we didn’t quit. You can never predict how overtime is going to play out, but we scored a touchdown every time, and that is pretty impressive. I liked what we did in crunch time, but we need to improve on finishing a few things off when we were given the chance. Our word of the week was resolute, and that is what we were tonight.”

Davault was impressed by Domer taking over the game with his arm and his legs. “I thought Domer played exceptionally well tonight. He threw the ball well. We had a few drops early that might have led to a few things, but he is a really good football player who has battled through injuries the past two seasons. He had to be close to rushing for 100 yards. I’m tickled to see him have the game that he had tonight.”

The numbers for Orrville

Parks finished the game with 198 rushing yards on 30 attempts with four rushing TDs to go along with two receptions for 71 yards and one TD. Domer completed 10 of 24 passing attempts for 141 yards and two TDs. Suppan had a big night on both sides of the ball. He snagged three passes for 40 yards and a TD to go along with an interception made in the second half. Suppan also held down punting duties for most of the night.

It can’t be said enough about the ice running through the veins of Duskey. Not only was he perfect with his XP attempts on a night where the weather wasn’t making it easy on kickers, but also he converted 63 of 68 extra points for the season.

The numbers for Gilmour Academy

For Gilmour Academy, Charleston finished with 27 rushing attempts for 232 yards and three TDs on the ground. Krebs completed six of 21 passing attempts for 114 yards and one TD and one INT to go along with 70 yards rushing and one TD. Nate Reichard led the Lancers with four receptions for 68 yards.

The Red Rider and Wayne County record books are on fire

Parks continues his onslaught through the Orrville and Wayne County record books. After the ice thawed against Gilmour Academy, Parks’ five TDs padded his stats as Orrville’s and Wayne County’s all-time single-season leader with 45 total TDs and 270 total points scored. Parks also added to his total in the top spot on Orrville’s and Wayne County’s all-time list for single-season all-purpose yards with 3,241.

In the third quarter of the Gilmour game, Parks moved into first place on Orrville’s all-time list for rushing yards in a single season when he passed Dru Robinson (2,096 yards through 13 games in ’98) for the top spot. Parks now has 2,157 rushing yards this season on 181 carries to average a whopping 11.9 yards per carry.

Regional finals

Orrville will travel to play the regional final on Jim Schalmo Field inside Dr. Martin Smilek Stadium at Northwest High School, 8580 Erie Ave. NW, Canal Fulton, on Saturday, Nov. 17 at 7 p.m. against second-seed Manchester (9-3), who defeated third-ranked Leavittsburg Labrae (10-2) 56-14 in their regional semifinal match-up.

Not only will this game be a rematch of the regular-season Principals Athletic Conference contest between the Red Riders and Panthers in which Manchester rolled to a 67-31 victory, but it also is the third time in history the two schools will square up against each other for post-season bragging rights. Orrville and Manchester faced each other previously in the playoffs during the 1995 and 1998 seasons.

Davault knows his team will need to be ready once again from the opening kick against the Panthers. “Our conference was particularly strong this year with five teams making the playoffs, and meeting Manchester in the regional final says a lot about our conference. Hopefully we can get a different result than our previous game with them, which was similar to tonight’s game, where we started out great and jumped to an early lead but didn’t finish great.”

This is Orrville’s first trip to the regional finals since 2010 (vs Genoa Area) and 23rd playoff appearance overall, which ranks first in Wayne County history and 12th all-time in Ohio since the OHSAA adopted the playoffs in 1972.

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