Game of the Week

Orrville avenges late-season loss to Panthers in PAC-7 regional final

The Div. V Region 17 football regional championship between the top-seeded Orrville Red Riders (11-2) and second-seed Manchester Panthers (9-4) on Saturday, Nov. 17 was a rematch that area fans were hoping to see. Manchester crushed Orrville in the regular season during their Principals Athletic Conference contest in week eight by a score of 67-31. However, they say it’s difficult to beat the same team twice in a season, and that came to fruition for the Panthers.

Marquael Parks had yet another remarkable four-touchdown night with three of them scored in the second half, and Logan Domer’s bomb to Donoven Hall just before halftime gave Orrville all of the momentum they needed to cruise to a 43-19 victory, which secured the Red Riders’ first visit to the state semifinals since 2010.

Manchester’s offense began the game with the ball and marched right down the field to secure the early lead after Hunter Foster plowed his way 7 yards for the TD (Pierce Adey’s extra-point kick was good) with 8:54 remaining in the first quarter. It appeared the Panthers had started right where they had left off the last time these two foes met with Manchester keeping the Red Rider defense guessing as to whom was running the ball among any of three featured playmakers in the Panther backfield.

Just over two minutes later, Orrville responded when Parks took the direct snap and stutter-stepped his way to a 16-yard TD (Cain Duskey’s extra-point kick was good) to tie the game up at 7-7 with 6:32 remaining in the opening quarter of play.

With a win-or-go-home game on the line, both teams were amped up and ready to play. Unfortunately maybe tensions were too high as it showed in the number of penalties that were called on both teams in the first half. After the initial scoring drives, both offenses had a hard time getting into any sort of rhythm due in large part to self-inflicted false starts or holding penalties that forced both teams into long yardage situations to keep drives alive. Both defenses also began to settle in. Manchester gambled on a fourth-and-short attempt, but Orrville’s senior linebacker Ben Summers made the initial hit on Ethan Wright, and the rest of the Red Rider defense cleaned up to stop Wright well short of the first down to give Orrville’s offense the ball.

The Red Rider offense drove right down the field, but Domer’s red zone pass found Manchester’s Hunter Foster to stop the Red Rider scoring threat and put the Panthers back in business with 1:01 left in the quarter. The turnover was only Domer’s fourth interception of the season. The first quarter ended with the game knotted up at 7-7.

Manchester was eventually forced to punt, but the ball only managed to travel 16 yards, giving Orrville great field advantage. Domer connected with Hall on a 20-yard completion, and a few plays later Hall struck pay dirt when his offensive line cleared the line of scrimmage and rolled out the red carpet for a 3-yard TD (Duskey XP was good) with 5:55 left in the second quarter.

The Panther offense tried to respond, but the defensive firm of Pumphrey & Pumphrey filed for a summary judgement with Burl Pumphrey breaking through the line and earning a huge sack for the Rider defense to force Manchester into another punt.

Manchester needed a defensive stop and badly as it was beginning to feel like Orrville was settling in on both sides of the ball. That is exactly what the Panthers achieved via the efforts of Foster and Wright, who helped force Orrville into a three and out with 2:06 left in the half. Unfortunately for Manchester the offense couldn’t capitalize before halftime and was once again forced to punt with 0:32 left in the half. Ten seconds later Logan Domer and Donoven Hall made the Panthers pay. Domer uncorked a perfect home run heave, and Hall ran underneath it, caught the ball in full stride and ran for the 74-yard TD (Duskey XP was good) to give Orrville some major momentum and a 21-7 lead at halftime.

Orrville would begin the second half with the ball first, and Manchester’s defense needed to come out of the locker room and make some adjustments if the Panthers were going to claw their way back into the game. Manchester had been down by a three-TD deficit in the regular season meeting with Orrville, so nobody in attendance felt the Panthers were out of this game. That was the feeling until Parks busted off a 41-yard TD run on the Riders very first play from scrimmage in the third quarter for his second score. With 11:44 left in the third quarter, Orrville led 28-7.

It was looking pretty grim for the Panthers until Foster caught a dump pass from Nick Mayer and dashed for a 51-yard gain to give the Panthers great field position. A few minutes later Wright dove for the left pylon to narrow the Rider lead, but Orrville’s special teams crashed the XP attempt, and Adey didn’t get a chance to boot the ball. Orrville led 28-13 with 2:53 left in the third quarter.

On Orrville’s following offensive drive, the Riders gambled and went for it on fourth down and short. Not only did the Red Riders get the first down, but Parks also broke loose for his third score of the game. This time it was a 51-yard TD (Duskey XP was good) to give Orrville more breathing room and a 35-13 lead with 1:01 left in the third quarter.

Early in the fourth quarter, Manchester’s Ethan Wright made a circus catch in double coverage just short of the goal line, but the ball was knocked loose before he could score, and Orrville’s Jake Phillips was Johnny-on-the-Spot as he pounced on the ball in the end zone for an Orrville touch-back. Just over a minute later, it was Parks once again for his fourth TD of the night when he torched the Panther defense for a 66-yard TD on the ground (Domer two-point conversion was good), and Orrville held a commanding 43-13 lead with 8:53 left in the game.

The sign of a well-coached team and solid football program becomes apparent in the actions of its players during good times and when times are bad. Manchester refused to roll over and played hard until the final play. The Panther offense pulled off some late razzle dazzle when Mayer’s pass connected with Wright, who made another great leaping catch in traffic. As Wright came down with the football, he lateraled on the hook-and-ladder to Foster, who took the rock 49 yards for the score. Suppan intercepted the Panthers’ two-point conversion attempt, and Orrville closed out the game to earn the regional title, 43-19.

Coaches corner

Manchester head coach Jim France gave credit to Orrville’s all-around effort in explaining what made the difference between this game versus the regular-season contest. “I think they just outplayed us tonight. We have the same team when we played them before, and we took that first drive and went right down the field and scored like we did before. Then the second time we got the ball, I don’t know if they made adjustments or what happened, but we just weren’t able to move the ball like we did before. They just outplayed us tonight.”

France was disappointed with the Panthers’ season coming to an end, but he was not disappointed in his squad’s effort. “We overachieved this year. We have a couple of good running backs, but if you look at the rest of our team, we have blue-collar guys that aren’t great athletes but they play hard and work hard. We obviously wanted to go farther, but for us to get to this point, I’m really proud of the way our kids played and the way that they never gave up. We didn’t play too well tonight, but we played hard and played to the last down.”

Orrville head coach Doug Davault was pleased with the final result. “We played well. After that first defensive series, I thought the difference was how well we played defensively. We took away what they wanted to do and did a great job with Wright and Foster. If you take away the big screen pass and the flea-flicker, I thought we really played well defensively. Jason Haley, Michael McMorrow and Dave Graber came up with a great defensive game plan, and our kids executed it. Offensively with the exception of the interception in the red zone, we were very, very efficient. I felt like we left points on the field in the first half, but the biggest thing that happened was that we came out the second half and kept the momentum going. We scored right off the bat and then started playing stellar defense again.”

Davault felt there were a lot of factors that helped Orrville avenge their regular-season loss to the Panthers, but the biggest factors were obvious.

“They didn’t convert four onside kicks like they did before, and we took care of the football for the most part,” Davault said. “Also give credit to our offensive line. Marquael had a couple of runs tonight where he didn’t get touched, and it was because we did a super job of blocking. Marquael is special, but this team is turning itself into something special. In the first half when we were needing to make plays, Jason Suppan made a big third-down catch down the sideline, Donoven Hall scored right before the half, and Logan Domer got some big first downs and ate up some yards. Nathen Dombroski made a big play on a slant in the first half, and Marquael dominates things, but we have other guys who can make plays. The only time we get stopped is when we lose our discipline with penalties, and we have to fix that. We push ourselves into long-down situations, which is tough to get out of.”

The numbers for Orrville

Parks finished the game with 222 rushing yards on 16 attempts for four TDs to go along with one reception for 44 yards. Domer completed five of 10 passing attempts for 185 yards (one TD) with one INT. Domer also chewed up 46 yards on the ground. He now has thrown for 1,742 passing yards this season with 18 TDs and only four INTs.

Hall might have had the play of the night when he hauled in Domer’s pass for the 74-yard TD reception right before halftime. He finished with 94 total receiving yards. Hall also rushed for 9 yards with one TD.

Davault was impressed with Hall’s speed. “The catch down the sideline got him going. He took off, the ball was in the air and I thought he wasn’t going to be able to get to it. Then all of a sudden he was under it and was gone. That was huge. That was momentum for us and was a killer for them, and I don’t think they recovered from that point on.”

The numbers for Manchester

It’s no secret the Panther’s strength is running the football. Star junior tailback Ethan Wright finished with 158 rushing yards on 30 carries (one TD) to go along with his 56 receiving yards and a heads-up post-reception lateral to Hunter Foster, who took it 44 yards for the late TD. Foster did everything he could to keep Manchester in the game by rushing for 56 yards on 17 carries (one TD) with 96 receiving yards (one TD).

Nick Mayer completed four of six passing attempts for 151 yards in split quarterback duties with Seth Duckett. A.J. Johnson, a duel threat for Manchester all season, tried to make a go of it for the Panthers, but an aggravated injury prevented him from finishing the game.

The Red Rider and Wayne County record books are on fire

With all of the attention on Parks and his astronomical stats, Cain Duskey quietly knocked through five more extra-points on the night, giving him 68 successful XPs for the season, which ties him at the top of the OHS record board with former Red Rider Chad Teague (’99) for the most XPs made in a single season. Mother Nature has not made it easy on the senior kicker as Duskey has had to boot the ball through pouring rain, blustery wind, icy turf and a dash of snow over the past several weeks. Duskey has now converted 68 of 73 extra points this season in addition to kicking seven field goals on eight attempts.

Parks continues his onslaught through the Orrville and Wayne County record books. Parks continued to add to his stats as Orrville’s and Wayne County’s all-time single-season leader with 49 total TDs and 294 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 3,469.

Last week against Gilmour Academy, 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 2,379 rushing yards through 13 games this season on 197 carries to average a whopping 12.1 yards per carry.

Davault does not take for granted the special season Parks has produced in 2018. “Marquael does stuff that nobody else can do. He’s as dynamic a kid as I’ve ever seen, and he controls the game.”

With Orrville putting up another 43 points on the board against Manchester, the Red Riders’ total now stands at 579 points scored this season, which passed the 1999 team (553 points) for the top spot in school history.

Regional finals

Orrville will travel to play in the OHSAA Div. V state semifinal at Firelands Regional Medical Center Stadium on the campus of Sandusky Perkins High School, 3714 Campbell St., Sandusky, on Saturday, Nov. 24 at 7 p.m. against Liberty Center (12-1), who defeated top-ranked Genoa (12-1) 43-40 in the Div. V Region 18 regional championship.

This is Orrville’s first trip to the state semifinals since 2010 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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