WADSWORTH OH- An early October Friday night brought plenty of interesting matchups to the forefront of YSN. `With a brisk football breeze filling the air, the one-loss Fitch Falcons traveled to Art Wright Stadium for the first time to battle a two-loss Wadsworth Grizzlies football team! With a ton of computer points on the line, with Fitch sitting at 4th place (Division 2, Region 5) and Wadsworth at 3rd place (Division 1, Region 1) heading into Friday night. Being the third meeting all-time between the two programs, Fitch has staked claim to victory in the previous two matchups. The first one came all the way back on November 18th, 2014 with Wadsworth traveling to Fitch and dropping a playoff game to The Falcons 15-3. The most recent game between the two squads came in the 2021 campaign, when Wadsworth again visited Austintown, this time it was the first regular season matchup between the teams.
A scoreless first quarter by both teams ensued, with both squads offenses testing the waters, but the defensive units on both sides slammed the door shut on early scoring opportunities. Wadsworth would strike first, thanks to Will Stack checking in under center for starter Luke Fischer, taking it to the house inside the goal line to put The Grizzlies up. An immediate response from Fitch on the very next play, with Dan Evans III (DE3) taking the first Falcon possession of the second quarter the distance on a kickoff return for a touchdown! Wadsworth had a response loaded in the form of a 32 yard striked from Luke Fischer to Aaron Keating, putting The Grizzlies back in front! A missed extra point by Wadsworth separated the two teams by six points, marking the second time in consecutive years that The Grizzlies would hold a halftime lead on Austintown.
Fitch attempted an onside kick that was thought to be recovered initially which would have made it Falcons ball to start the half. However, after a meeting by the officials, it was determined a whistle was never blown, erasing the play from the game. Motivated to get the ball back and not let Wadsworth add to their advantage. DE3 came up big once again for Austintown, this time Evans grabbed a key interception off of Fischer to give Fitch an opportunity at their first lead of the ballgame. DeShawn Vaughn Jr. found nearly 80 yards of running room, breaking out of the pocket and taking it all the way for a score! Josiah Baerni made the extra point to give Fitch their first lead of the game 14-13 in the third.
Unwavered by the deficit, The Grizzlies Luke Fischer played game manager against The Falcons, effectively driving down the field ending with Fischer linking up with Stack for another score. Redeeming the missed extra point earlier in the game, Fischer found Keating for a two point conversion, putting Wadsworth up by seven.
After being shut down in a couple drive attempts, Vaughn got The Falcons back in the red zone, where he once again utilized his legs to even things back up with eight minutes to go in the fourth quarter. Little did the fans know that this would be the final score they would see in regulation, as both teams were deadlocked at 21 a piece after four quarters of play, meaning we were heading to overtime.
Both running backs were featured in the first overtime, with Wadsworth getting the first possession in OT, Kyle Figuray made The Falcons pay with a 6 yard rushing touchdown to open up extra football. Fitch’s D.J. Williams, who stepped up in place of a banged up Jamell James, broke the plane from 5 yards deep to send things to a second overtime. Austintown got the ball to start double overtime, as possessions alternate with each OT, meaning The Falcons needed to score. The Grizzlies beared down on defense and forced a rare interception by DeShawn Vaughn Jr. to give themselves an opportunity to get their first ever win against Austintown. Settling for a field goal, Wadsworth looked to walk it off on their homecoming night. All of a sudden, soaring in to make the save, J’Allen Underwood from The Falcons ate the field goal attempt in a game saving block.
Forcing triple overtime, The Grizzlies were due to get the ball right back, which they handled in emphatic fashion! In a one play, one pass strike from Luke Fischer to Davis Nye for 20 yards, getting Wadsworth the lead once again. Fitch got the ball back and had to score or suffer defeat. The three headed dragon was featured once again, this time one offense, as DE3 grabbed a pass and catch attempt from Vaughn and finessed his way into the endzone from 16 yards. Thus sending the two teams to quadruple overtime, the longest game in the 96-year history of Austintown Football. The Falcons had the ball to start and kept feeding that man D.J. Williams, until the back hit paydirt for his second time on the night to give Fitch the advantage. With their backs against the wall, Wadsworth needed a score to force a fifth overtime. The Grizzlies, after an injury suffered by their running back Figuray, were forced into a pass heavy attack on offense. Then, with easily the play of the night, Davion Pritchard grabbed the game-winning pick off Fischer in the endzone to cap off the instant classic and seal it as a Falcons victory!
A tough loss for Wadsworth (5-3) will now see The Grizzlies play host to North Royalton (4-4) in a battle of The Bears on Friday, October 14th! The win will now send Fitch (7-1) back home to entertain their ultimate rival in The Boardman Spartans (4-4) also on October 14th.
Scoring by Quarter
Q1: Fitch 0 – 0 Wadsworth
Q2: Fitch 7 – 13 Wadsworth
Q3: Fitch 7 – 8 Wadsworth
Q4: Fitch 7 – 0 Wadsworth
OT: Fitch 7 – 7 Wadsworth
2OT: Fitch 0 – 0 Wadsworth
3OT: Fitch 7 – 7 Wadsworth
4OT: Fitch 7 – 0 Wadsworth
Final: Fitch 42 – 35 Wadsworth
DeShawn Vaughn Jr. : 11/18, 111 YDS, 1 TD, 1 INT.
D.J. Williams: 33 CAR, 139 YDS, 2 TD.
DeShawn Vaughn Jr. : 11 CAR, 132 YDS, 2 TD.
J’Allen Underwood: 1 CAR, 5 YDS.
Dan Evans III: 6 REC, 33 YDS, 1 TD.
Jayden Eley: 2 REC, 49 YDS.
D.J. Williams: 2 REC, 26 YDS.
Cam Smith: 1 REC, 3 YDS.
Dan Evans III: 4 TAK, 1 INT.
Christian Latone: 11 TAK, 1 TFL, 1 Sack.
Xavier Dahn: 9 TAK.
Davion Pritchard: 5 TAK, 1 INT.
DeShawn Vaughn Jr. : 5 TAK.
J’Allen Underwood: 5 TAK.
Brian Robinson: 5 TAK, 1 TFL.
D.J. Williams: 1 TAK, 1 TFL, 1 Sack.
Josiah Berni: 7/7 XP, 0/1 FG (25 YDS).
Dan Evans III: 1 TD Returned (88 YDS)
J’Allen Underwood: 1 Blocked Field Goal
Luke Fischer: 17/37, 273 YDS, 3 TD, 2 INT.
Kyle Figuray: 28 CAR, 121 YDS, 1 TD.
Will Stack: 4 CAR, 12 YDS, 1 TD.
Will Stack: 9 REC, 96 YDS, 1 TD.
Davis Nye: 4 REC, 73 YDS, 1 TD.
Aaron Keating: 3 REC, 86 YDS, 1 TD.
Tommy Arnold: 1 REC, 18 YDS.
Maverick Blackburn: 10 TAK, 1.5 TFL.
Gavin Madigan: 8 TAK, 2.5 TFL.
Ian Kaufman: 5 TAK, 1 INT.
Davis Nye: 5 TAK, 1 TFL.
Brayden Probst: 4 TAK, 1 TFL.
Brandon Sams: 3 TAK, 1 TFL.
Parker Ross: 2 TAK, 1 TFL.
Jack Dinwiddie: 3/4 XP, 0/1 FG (24 YDS)
Austintown: 11/89 YDS
*Contributed By YSN’s Ty Bartell