PARKERSBURG, W. Va. — For Mike Bartrum and the Ohio all-star team, Friday night definitely had an Ohio Valley Publishing flavor — and impact.
That’s because Bartrum, head coach of the Meigs High School football team, and eight OVP Ohio-area individuals competed in the 23rd annual Battle Against Cystic Fibrosis senior all-star game.
Unfortunately for the Ohio unit, two turnovers turned the tide tremendously in the second half — and the Buckeye State-squad fell 24-7 to its West Virginia counterparts at Stadium Field in Parkersburg.
The win was West Virginia’s second consecutive in the series, and third in the last four contests, as the Mountain State now leads the all-time series 15-8.
Garrett Litchfield of Point Pleasant was the only OVP-area player on the West Virginia roster, but was injured and did not play.
By a similar score, West Virginia won last season’s meeting at Don Drumm Stadium in Marietta, 28-6.
Bartrum and his Marauder coaching staff were selected to coach this year’s Ohio team, as they were joined by five Meigs seniors — along with Gallia Academy quarterback Kole Carter, Southern lineman Joe Beegle and Eastern lineman Ross Keller.
The five Marauder members included Kaileb Sheets, Colton Lilly, Colton Atkinson, Coltin Neutzling and Dalton Clark.
Bartrum said the outcome on the scoreboard didn’t dampen the experience for him and his Ohio players.
“What a great experience,” said Bartrum. “All of our kids had so much fun this week. And the big picture is all about playing for the battle against cystic fibrosis. Our team raised $292 above and beyond our t-shirt sales to give back. Wins and losses will come and go and all that, but our kids were a class act and did a great job.”
All of the OVP players had a tangible effect in the outcome as well, paced by the combination of Carter and Sheets, which combined for the club’s only touchdown.
Carter completed 7-of-12 passes for 83 yards, including the 20-yard TD toss to Sheets to cap an impressive 12-play, 80-yard scoring drive that consumed exactly four minutes and 48 seconds off the first-quarter clock.
Sheets, in fact, made a nice adjustment on the touchdown reception — as Carter lobbed the pass for Sheets’ back shoulder in the front-right corner of the end zone.
Sheets caught three first-half passes for 40 yards, and was 3-of-5 passing for 35, while Lilly made two receptions for 28.
Carter was also Ohio’s leading rusher with 36 yards on exactly a dozen carries.
West Virginia, however, broke a 7-7 tie by scoring 17 second-half points, including a meaningless 31-yard field goal by Preston Humphries of Ravenswood with 18 seconds remaining.
It was two turnovers, though, that impacted the contest the most.
After Sheets was sacked for a 14-yard loss on the opening play of the third quarter, Bartrum called for Lilly to execute a halfback pass two plays later.
But Lilly’s pass was intercepted by Calhoun County’s Ethyn Miller, who made the pick just inside the 30-yard line and returned it 12 yards to the Ohio 18.
Bartrum bore the responsibility of that particular play call, he said.
“That was one of those things where Colton was just trying to make a play. I’m actually the one that told (Meigs assistant coach) Coach (Cassady) Willford to call it (halfback pass),” said Bartrum. “So that goes back on me. Colton was just trying to make a play.”
It was a game-changer, however.
Four plays later, at the 8:44 mark of the third quarter, Bret Fetty of St. Marys took a sweep to the right and ran in from eight yards out to put West Virginia ahead 13-7.
Humphries then hit his second of three successful extra-point kicks to double the lead.
That advantage then ballooned to 21-7 exactly 11 minutes and 50 seconds later, when Wirt County’s Cam Nelson broke two tackles at the line of scrimmage — and another at the second level before scoring on a 34-yard run.
Nelson’s scamper capped a nine-play, 69-yard scoring drive after Ohio turned the ball over on downs.
With his team trailing 21-7, Carter carried the first four times for 28 yards on Ohio’s next drive, before a 3-yard completion to Frontier’s Damon Metheney to the West Virginia 34.
On the next play, Carter completed a deep downfield pass to Lilly to the 2, as Lilly made a fantastic leaping and concentrated grab before going out of bounds.
However, Ohio came up empty, as a high snap over Carter’s head sent the ball rolling backwards before West Virginia recovered the fumble at the 31.
That was actually the third turnover and second lost fumble for Ohio, whose offense only totaled 174 yards, including 56 on the ground and only 70 total in the second half.
It also committed 10 penalties for 77 yards, as five in the first half were all of the five-yard variety.
Following an exchange of third-quarter turnovers with the score still 14-7, Ohio drove between the 30-yard-lines in nine plays, but Sheets dropped a Carter pass inside the West Virginia 10 on fourth down.
That was with 2:17 left to play in the third period, as West Virginia made it 21-7 just five minutes and 23 seconds later.
“I will take our kids over any kids in the country. Our kids are great kids and I’m very proud of them,” said Bartrum. “They wanted to play in this game and win, they (West Virginia) just made plays and we didn’t make enough. Hats off to West Virginia. They made more plays than we did.”
They certainly did on the opening kickoff, as Neal Schriner of Parkersburg Catholic returned it up the middle and to the outside for an 82-yard touchdown only 13 seconds in.
However, Ohio immediately answered with its scoring march, as Carter carried for 20 yards and completed a 21-yard pass to Sheets for two of the drive’s five first downs.
The two teams then traded four punts apiece for the final 18:54 of the first half.
Ohio’s first three punts followed three-and-out possessions.
Tim Ousley of Vinton County, who played an outstanding game at inside linebacker and made an interception of West Virginia quarterback Cory Farley, was named Ohio’s Most Valuable Player.
Fetty, who rushed a dozen times for 58 yards, was West Virginia’s MVP.
Nelson led all rushers with 82 yards on 10 totes, as Farley completed 3-of-9 passes for 26 yards, part of a team 210.
Both teams ran exactly 50 plays from scrimmage.
But Bartrum reflected positively on the experience — on behalf of both himself and his Ohio players.
“Our five Meigs kids are a special group of kids and it was awesome to have the chance to coach them one more time. And it was a delight to coach kids like Kole Carter and Ross Keller and Joe Beegle. It was an honor and great experience to coach the Ohio team and it was something I’ll never forget,” he said.
West Virginia 24, Ohio 7
Ohio 7-0-0-0 — 7
West Virginia 7-0-7-10 — 24
WV: Neal Schriner, 82-yard kickoff return (Preston Humphries kick) 11:47
OH: Kaileb Sheets, 20-yard pass from Kole Carter (Tanner Potts kick) 6:54
WV: Bret Fetty, 8-yard run (Preston Humphries kick) 8:44
WV: Cam Nelson, 34-yard run (Preston Humphries kick) 8:54
WV: Preston Humphries, 31-yard field goal, :18
Team Statistics/Individual leaders
First Downs: Ohio 11, West Virginia 13;
Rushes-Yds: Ohio 32-56, West Virginia 41-184;
Pass Yds: Ohio 118, West Virginia 26;
Total Yds: Ohio 174, West Virginia 210;
Comp-Att-Int: Ohio 10-18-1, West Virginia 3-9-1;
Penalties-Yds: Ohio 10-77, West Virginia 5-35;
Fumbles-Lost: Ohio 2-2, West Virginia 0-0;
Punts-Ave.: Ohio 4-40.5, West Virginia 5-31.6
Ohio: Kole Carter 12-36, Jerome Mayle 7-32, Joe Barnes 4-13, Tanner Clark 4-6, Kaileb Sheets 3-(-13), Team 2-(-18)
West Virginia: Bret Fetty 12-58 TD, Cam Nelson 10-82 TD, Orlando Burgy 7-9, Cory Farley 4-13, Dale Locklear 3-10, Cole Ritchie 1-6, Ethyn Miller 1-5, Neal Schriner 1-1, Jesse McGrew 1-1, Mike Beck 1-(-1)
Ohio: Kole Carter 7-12-0-83 TD, Kaileb Sheets 3-5-0-35, Colton Lilly 0-1-1-0
West Virginia: Cory Farley 3-9-1-26
Ohio: Kaileb Sheets 3-40 TD, Colton Lilly 2-28, Nick Camino 2-45, Tanner Clark 1-2, Damon Metheney 1-3, Jake Weaver 1-0
West Virginia: Orlando Burgy 1-13, Ethyn Miller 1-9, Cory Farley 1-4
Paul Boggs can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2106