CALCUTTA - The Beavers bit the Wildcats.
The Beaver Local football team dealt Struthers' playoff hopes a big blow as the Beavers scored the game-winning touchdown with 56.8 seconds to play as Beaver Local knocked off Struthers, 21-14, Friday night on Homecoming at Fighting Beaver Stadium.
With the win, the Beavers improve to 2-5 on the season. The win snapped Beaver Local's five-game losing streak. Beaver Local's first victory came back in Week 1 when Beaver Local blanked local-rival East Liverpool, 21-0, at Patterson Field.
The Beavers celebrate their victory on Friday against Struthers. (Photo by Aaron Petchal)
The victory also gives Beaver Local its most wins in a season since the Beavers ended the 2008 campaign at 4-6. Beaver Local ended up going 1-9 in each of the past three seasons.
The Beavers had lost 19-straight AAC games prior to the victory.
"The kids played hard," first-year Beaver Local head coach Jeremy McElroy said.
The loss drops the Wildcats to 4-3. Struthers has now lost back-to-back games and three out of their last four. The Wildcats entered the game ranked fourth in the Ohio Division III Region 11 computer rankings.
The winning touchdown came after the Wildcats tied the score at 14 with 4:34 left to play in the game.
With the score deadlocked, running back Phillip Beohm threw a 39-yard scoring strike to Justin Osbourne, who found himself open behind the Wildcats' defense. Justin McCoy converted his third extra point of the night to give Beaver Local a 21-14 lead with 56.8 seconds showing on the scoreboard clock.
After the Beavers scored to take the lead, the Wildcats attempted to mount a comeback drive, however, David Stewart fumbled and the Beavers recovered.
Beaver Local was unable to run out the clock as Struthers had all three timeouts remaining. The Wildcats used all three of their timeouts, and the visitors forced the Beavers to punt.
Struthers had one final chance, but a pass on first down came up short of the sticks, and the final seconds ticked off the clock giving the Beavers the hard-fought victory.
"My hat is off to Struthers," McElroy said. "Their kids battled until the end. It came down to the final six seconds."
Struthers opened the scoring on their first drive of the game. On third down, junior quarterback Gary Muntean threw a screen pass to junior running back Nick Pollifrone. Pollifrone hauled in the pass, and he rumbled 60-yards down the far sideline for a touchdown.
The extra point was wide, and the Wildcats led 6-0 with 8:50 to play in the first quarter.
Struthers took the lead into the second quarter.
In the second, Beohm plowed into the end zone on a 1-yard run. McCoy's PAT gave the Beavers a 7-6 with 6:26 left to play before halftime.
The scoring drive covered 31 yards. Beaver Local gained possession of the ball following a Wildcats' fumble.
The Beavers maintained their one-point lead until the fourth quarter.
In the fourth, Daniel Lattanzio ran through the Struthers' defense en route to a 20-yard touchdown. McCoy's extra point put the Beavers up 14-6 with 6:04 left to play in the game.
The Wildcats were able to answer thanks in large part to a blown call by the officials. A Struthers running back ran the ball deep into Beaver Local territory, however, he fumbled the ball and the Beavers recovered. The Struthers were called for a 15-yard penalty, however, the referee inexplicably gave the ball back to the Wildcats.
They took advantage of the gift.
David Stewart scored on a 7-yard run to make the score 14-12. Struthers lined up to go for 2, and Stewart got a pitch out from Muntean. Stewart headed up field before stopping to throw the ball to Vince Fandozzi, who was open in the back of the end zone. Fandozzi hauled the pass to tie the score at 14.
The missed call and the tying score briefly took the wind out of the Beavers' sails, but Beaver Local was able to answer the bell to pull out the victory.
"Our kids kept fighting," McElroy said. "They have been fighting all season long."
Austin Brooks and Beohm combined to throw for 128 yards. Brooks completed 11 of 17 passes for 89 yards.
Beaver Local ran for 129 yards on 35 carries. Lattanzio led the way with 73 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries. Beohm rushed for 38 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries. Osbourne ran once for 10 yards, and Morley Marsden rushed for eight yards on two carries.
The Beavers recorded 16 first downs in the game. Beaver Local committed five penalties for 60 yards. The Beavers held the ball for 27:48 seconds.
Dylan Railing and Justin Britt each recovered a fumble.
The win over the Wildcats should give the Beavers confidence heading into their final three games of the regular season.
"It definitely will," McElroy said.
Beaver Local is scheduled to play at 7 p.m. Friday night at home against Claymont. The Mustangs defeated the Beavers, 47-7, in Week 8 last season. Struthers will play at home against Canfield.