By RYAN WALKER
For The Ironton Tribune
PROCTORVILLE – The Fairland Dragons made plays when they needed to but still missed a game as the West Muskingum Tornadoes pulled off an upset 22-21 overtime Friday night at Jim Mayo Memorial Stadium.
Still without a quarterback lined up, the Dragons were forced to continue using their quarterback committee for the third straight week. Steeler Leep took the bulk of the snaps Friday, passing for 135 yards while running for 74 yards and three scores.
Fairland (7-4) lined up the opening kickoff and had a 65-yard drive, running 14 plays and consuming nearly nine minutes behind for the game’s first score.
Leep finished the practice as he fought his way one yard out for the score. Gabe Polcyn would add the extra point to give the Dragons a 7-0 lead in the first quarter.
In practice, Leep carried the ball eight times, including an 11-yard burst on a third play and two to keep the practice going.
After forcing West Muskingum to a punt, the Dragons would end up going the wrong direction on their second practice.
Negative plays and two critical penalties sustained the Dragons to their own 18 and a third-and-27 situation.
Faced with a passing situation, Leep backed up to pass and attempted to hit Keegan Smith running along the Fairland sideline only for Tornado safety Jake Anton to make a leaping interception to give West Muskingum the ball. at Dragon 35.
The Tornadoes would capitalize on the turnover, finding the end zone nine plays later.
The scoring play came on an 8-yard run from Rashid Sesay on a throw sweep. Silas Kuhn added the point after a try and the score was leveled at 7 with 2:10 remaining at halftime.
Sesay finished the game as the leading rusher with 168 yards on 21 carries. Slater Sampsel finished the night with 5 catches for 59 yards.
The only score in the third period came from the Tornadoes as Anton would hit Sampsel on a 29-yard touchdown pass to cap a 10-play, 83-yard drive to give West Muskingum a 14-7 lead with 3:11 on. the clock.
Early in the fourth quarter, Sesay took another throw sweep and managed to turn the corner for a 50-yard gain and set up the Tornadoes at Fairland 21 and a two-scoring chance up.
However, the Dragon defense would stand tall, stopping the Tornadoes on four consecutive plays, including an incomplete pass on fourth down to win the ball with 9:21 remaining.
Fairland moved quickly into Tornado territory as the offense began to find some rhythm.
But just when things started to click, a sack on first down backed the Dragons up and eventually blocked the exit as they turned the ball over in downs with 4:05 remaining in the game.
Again, the Fairland defense would take another position, forcing another punt and giving their offense back the ball to go 80 yards with 2:58 remaining.
Time is running out, the Dragons needed a big play. Five plays later, they will find that play thanks to Brycen Hunt.
Hunt caught a screen pass from Leep, slipped between two Tornado tacklers and spun along the far sideline into the end zone to draw the Dragons within a point.
Polcyn added the extra point to tie the game with 1:21 left in regulation.
Hunt finished the night rushing for 119 yards with 10 catches.
West Muskingum (9-2) got a great kickoff return from Connor Hill to start the ensuing drive at their own 48 with 1:12 on the clock.
The Tornadoes managed to get to the Fairland 27 after two completions from Anton, his second being fullback Ty Shawger in the middle for a gain of 14 yards.
With just 11 seconds remaining, Anton made a final throw towards the end zone as time expired, but Leep intercepted the under-thrown ball in the end zone and tried to return it to be pushed out of bounds. limits ahead of West Muskingum Bench for final settlement.
In overtime, Fairland got the ball first and needed only four plays to hit it.
The score came from Leep, who forced his way into the end zone. Polcyn added the extra point to put the Dragons ahead 21-14.
On West Muskingum’s possession, it took four plays – all executed by Sesay – for the Tornadoes to enter the end zone with the 3-yard touchdown on third-and-base.
West Muskingum head coach Nate Brownrigg didn’t hesitate and immediately decided to go for the two points and the win.
On the play, Anton’s pass to Hill remained incomplete, but a defensive pass interference call gave the Tornadoes another chance.
With a second chance, West Muskingum quickly broke up the huddle and delivered a quick jab at Shawger who entered the end zone intact to complete the thrilling finish.
West Muskingum 0 7 7 0 8 = 22
Fairland 7 0 0 7 7 = 21
F – Steeler Leep 1 run (Gabe Polcyn kick), 3:02.
WM – Rashid Sesay 8 run (Silas Kuhn kick), 2:10.
WM – Slater Sampsel 29 pass from Jake Anton (kick from Silas Kuhn), 3:11.
F — Brycen Hunt 63 Steeler Leep pass (Gabe Polcyn shot), 1:21.
F – Steeler Leep 7 run (Kick from Gabe Polcyn)
WM – Rashid Sesay 3 run (Ty Shawger run)
First attempts 16 17
Rush-yards 45-204 38-112
Passing yards 85,144
Total yards 289,256
Cmp-Att-Int 10-16-1 14-17-1
Fumbles-lost 2-0 0-0
Penalties-yards 6-35.5 4-21.5
Punts-average 2-32.0 2-32.5
PREVIOUS – West Muskingum: Rashid Sesay 21-168 TD, Ty Shawger 14-31, Jake Anton 4-5, Team 1-0; Fairland – Steeler Leep 22-74 2TD, Zion Martin 10-32, Kam Kitts 1-11, Brycen Hunt 4-under 5, Quentin Cremeans 1-0.
PASSING – West Muskingum: Jake Anton 9-15-1 76 TD, Slater Sampsel 1-1-0 9; Fairland – Steeler Leep 12-14-1 135 TD, Jack Hayden 2-3-0 9.
RECEPTION – West Muskingum: Rashid Sesay 3-7, Slater Sampsel 5-59 TD, Ty Shawger 2-19; Fairland – Brycen Hunt 10-119 TD, Kam Kitts 1-9, Zion Martin 1-7, Steeler Leep 1-5, Keegan Smith 1-4.
MISSED GROUND GOALS – Gabe Polcyn, Fairland, 42 (short).