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Trumbull edges Mahoning 10-7 in annual Jack Arvin Classic

Staff photo / Neel Madhavan. Mahoning County and Austintown Fitch's DJ Williams evades a defender during a 60-yard touchdown run in the Jack Arvin Classic on Thursday at Mineral Ridge.

MINERAL RIDGE — After a drubbing at the hands of the Mahoning County All-Stars last year, the Trumbull County All-Stars got their revenge Thursday.

Despite a nervy final few minutes, Trumbull held on for a 10-7 victory over Mahoning in the 38th annual Jack Arvin Football Classic at Joe Lane Stadium in Mineral Ridge.

“You go into this game knowing it’s going to be a defensive battle,” Trumbull County and Mineral Ridge head coach Brian Shaner said. “They’re just a great group of young men. They practiced really hard, and they came out and put on a show for Trumbull County. Our defense played stellar.”

Warren G. Harding’s Nau’jeat Jones was named Player of the Game by the Mahoning Valley Coaches Association for his performance. Jones hauled in a 38-yard touchdown pass midway through the third quarter, and had a pair of other big downfield catches to move the chains for Trumbull County.

“Nau’jeat being Player of the Game, what a wide receiver he is,” Shaner said.

Comprised of mostly smaller schools, Trumbull County carried a bit of a chip on its shoulders throughout the game as it tried to get the best of the Mahoning County team, which is made up mostly of bigger schools.

As Trumbull County took a knee in the victory formation while the final few seconds ticked off the clock, they looked at the Mahoning team and pointed to the scoreboard as they walked off the field.

“I love it because our kids took that small school attitude vs. the big school Mahoning County,” Shaner said. “It’s amazing, you have eight or nine practices with them, but they become so close. They have this bond, and they understood that you play this game for the love of the game. Yes, you want to win it, but it’s to go out and play that one last game with guys you’ve never played with. Our guys bought into that. They represented small schools very well. I told them I was proud and honored to be their last head coach of their high school careers.”

Both teams dealt with turnovers in a sluggish first half and struggled to move the ball.

Niles’ Antuan Gardner had a fumble on Trumbull County’s first offensive play of the game, which was recovered by Mahoning County. But the ensuing possession would end on a missed 38-yard field goal.

Trumbull County struck first midway through the second quarter with a 37-yard field goal by Warren G. Harding’s Jake Daugherty.

Then, Mahoning County had its first turnover of the game, as Austintown Fitch’s DJ Williams fumbled the ball with about 4:30 to go.

Holding just a three-point edge at halftime, Trumbull County went straight to work to open the second half, as Jones hauled in his 38-yard touchdown strike with 7:56 to go in the third quarter.

But Mahoning County quickly answered, as Williams got redemption for his earlier turnover by bursting up the right sideline for a 60-yard touchdown run.

Needing a score, Cardinal Mooney’s Ashton O’Brien connected with Canfield’s Scottie Eaton for a 70-yard catch-and-run that put Mahoning County in the red zone, but the drive stalled out.

In the final few minutes, each team was able to get critical fourth-down stops near midfield. But Trumbull County was able to pick up a first down, as Niles’ Anthony Budak connected with Jones with under two minutes to go and Mahoning County out of timeouts.

“These guys played hard on both sides of the ball,” Mahoning County and Jackson-Milton head coach Nathan Brode said. “Played a hard-nosed ball game, but unfortunately, we didn’t come out with enough points offensively. But our guys played hard and I’m proud of them.

“These guys come from all different backgrounds, all around two counties, and they had to come together to work together for a common goal. They might not be best friends or have the same common interests, but we had a common interest tonight. It was to play hard and give Trumbull our best shot, and I think these guys did that tonight.”

Have an interesting story? Contact Neel Madhavan by email at nmadhavan@tribtoday.com. Follow him on X, formerly Twitter, @NeelMadhavan.

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