Justin Rota’s halfback pass to Kvon Williams rallies Trumbull
By Greg Gulas
Justin Rota’s 57-yard pass to Kvon Williams with 2:45 remaining proved to be the difference as the Trumbull County All-Stars defeated the Mahoning-Columbiana All-Stars, 28-27 Thursday in the 27th Annual Mahoning Valley Coaches Association Jack Arvin Football Classic at Arrowhead Stadium.
With just nine practices under their belts, it seemed highly unlikely that a trick play would decide the outcome of the game.
Not according to Trumbull County coach Dan Williams of McDonald High.
“That play was my favorite play in practice,” he said. “It was perfect timing with quarterback Mike Lopuchovsky lateraling the ball to Justin Rota, and then Justin executing a perfectly thrown pass to Kvon Williams for the score.
“Mike [Lopuchovsky], he’s the type of player that makes things happen on his own and he did just that for us tonight. I watched him several times in high school and came away impressed with his performance each and every time.”
Mahoning-Columbiana had a final shot, scoring when quarterback Paul Kempe found Jeff Podolsky, his Ursuline teammate, from 5 yards out with five seconds remaining to cut the lead to 28-27.
The two-point conversion failed, however, giving Trumbull the victory.
Mahoning-Columbiana scored first when Struthers’ Jermayne Brooks found the end zone from a yard out with a little under three minutes gone in the game. Podolsky kicked the extra point.
Trumbull knotted the game at 7 when Williams caught the first of his three aerials, this one from Lopuchovsky from 19 yards away at 4:54 of the opening quarter.
Mahoning-Columbiana increased its lead to 14-7 when Campbell’s Lester Hughes caught an 8-yard pass from East’s Shawn Haywood — his team’s MVP on the night.
“I felt great out there tonight and it was fun to play with players from teams that you don’t ordinarily see during the season,” Haywood said. “We played well and it was fun, but we made a few mistakes in the game that cost us in the end.”
Haywood completed 5 of 8 passes for 148 yards and one touchdown and ran for 13 yards on three carries.
A 4-yard run by Brooks at 3:23 of the second period gave Mahoning-Columbiana a 21-7 lead but Williams’ second touchdown reception just 21 seconds later cut the margin to 21-14 at the intermission.
“You just throw the ball in Kvon’s [Williams] direction and he seems to come down with it,” Lopuchovsky, his team’s MVP, said. “As the game went on we got more comfortable with each other.
“He sure is one talented football player.”
Trumbull County tied the game at 6:30 of the third quarter when Lopuchovsky hooked up with Hubbard teammate Danny Duvall from 29 yards away.
“It was a great game, but not handling the ball like we should have and committing a couple of costly penalties really hurt us tonight,” Larry Kempe, Mahoning-Columbiana coach, said. “We had our chances, but I am so proud of our effort and the effort of both teams tonight.”