CANTON – There was only player on the field who could outdo Clinton-Massie’s Luke Richardson Saturday in the OHSAA Div. IV state championship game at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium.
And he played for Steubenville.
Javon Davis proved to be too much for Clinton-Massie Saturday as he led the Big Red to a 50-36 win.
Davis passed for four touchdowns and ran for two others, outdueling Richardson who made big play after big play on offense, defense and special teams for Massie.
After back to back years of finishing as state runnersup, the Big Red finally ended a title drought by dominating the Falcons on a crisp fall afternoon in northeast Ohio.
“Tonight wasn’t our night,” CM coach Dan McSurley said. “I said all along my greatest fear is getting beat by a lesser team. If you caxn give everything you’ve got, and get beat by a better team, that’s all you can do.”
Steubenville started fast, scoring on its first two drives. The opening salvo was a 91-yard beauty in four plays then the next possession came after Clinton-Massie fumbled on its first play from scrimmage.
With 8:15 still to play in the first quarter, the Falcons faced a 14-0 hole.
The Falcons rebounded with a scoring drive, highlighted by a 56-yard catch and run by Luke Richardson. The drive ended with Seth Schmidt’s second catch of the year on a pass from Corey Stulz.
After the Big Red built a 27-7 advantage, the Clinton-Massie special teams got in on the act as Garrett Trampler had a 72-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the second quarter. It was the first time in a Division IV state championship game a kick-off was returned for a touchdown.
Luke Richardson also made a big-time special teams play returning a punt 53 yards for a touchdown with 0:00 showing on the scoreboard clock. That closed a wild first half with Steubenville on top 36-20.
Javon Davis was simply too much for the Massie defense, throwing for 187 yards and four scores in the first half.
In the second half, Richardson made a huge play following a Steubenville interception. What appeared to be a dagger in the heart of the Falcons turned into a blessing. Richardson was the intended receiver on long pass play but Steubenville’s Gino Pierro came up with the turnover.
But no sooner than Pierro clutched the ball to his chest, the ever-present Richardson ripped the ball from his arms and recovered.
On the next play, Tyler Beam zipped his way around the corner and in to the end zone to make it 36-26. Suddenly it was a ball game again, bringing back memories of Massie’s first state title victory when they ran out to a big lead against St. Clairsville then had to hold on for the win.
Derick Carlisle’s field goal made it 36-29 with plenty of time remaining.
Steubenville, though, came alive offensively on the next drive, going 65 yards in 10 plays, taking 4:35 off the clock, to push the difference back to double digits. Davis went 15 yards, bullying his way into the end zone and the Massie deficit was 43-29 one play deep into the fourth quarter.
Davis scored again on a dazzling 44 yard burst before Christian Poynter’s short run made it 50-36.
Reach Mark Huber at the News Journal at 937-556-5765 and follow his News Journal feed on Twitter @wnjsports.