GIRARD - The turnover battle generally decides most football games, and Thursday night's Jack Arvin Football Classic at Arrowhead Stadium was no exception.
Trumbull County fumbled the ball away twice in the first half, leading to two Mahoning County touchdowns and Mahoning went on for a 28-7 victory in the 28th annual game.
"It's the name of the game. The team that turns the ball over less usually wins and they capitalized on the turnovers," Trumbull coach Brad Yeager said. "We made some self-inflicted wounds in the first half and I think in the second half we came out a better, a little bit more composure, a little bit more intensity."
Tribune Chronicle / R. Michael Semple
Champion’s Justin Rasey (21) tackles Cardinal Mooney’s P.J. Quinn during the first half of the MVCA Jack Arvin Football Classic on Thursday at Arrowhead Stadium in Girard.
After Dan Graziano fumbled the ball on his own 36, Mahoning quarterback P.J. Quinn led his team down the field for the game's first score. He completed a 7-yard pass down to the 7 to D.D. Fleetion and, after Trevor Smith rushed to the 2, Jordan Pierce went in for the touchdown.
Mahoning County got the ball back immediately, as Branden Byrd fumbled the ensuing kickoff to give Mahoning the ball at the Trumbull 25.
Mahoning capitalized as Ja'les Hughes rushed to the 14, Smith went to the 6 and Hughes followed with another score for a 14-0 lead with 11:55 left in the half.
After getting the ball back on a 69-yard punt by Justin Evans that pinned it on its own 8, Mahoning County put together an 18-play, 92-yard drive that consumed 8:28.
Quinn led the way on the march, rushing four times for 13 yards and completing two passes for 36 more yards.
He completed an 11-yard pass to Nick Williams on third-and-8 from his own 10 and later connected with Ryan Farragher for 25 on second-and-9 from the Trumbull 41. Quinn also had an 8-yard run on third-and-7 to keep the drive alive.
Smith went in from 1 yard out for a commanding 21-0 lead with 1:07 remaining in the first half.
Quinn was named Mahoning County Most Valuable Player, completing 6-of-13 passes for 105 yards. He also rushed for 38 yards on nine carries.
"It feels good. It's bittersweet, you know, playing for the last time," said Quinn, who will walk on at Youngstown State this season. "I'm glad we got out with a W.
"It's always easier for me playing with good backs. They carry the load. It was just an honor playing with these guys."
"He was the only quarterback on the roster so we wanted to keep him healthy," Mahoning coach Mike Kopachy said. "He's just a field general. You could tell that he's a seasoned, state champion quarterback. He makes it all go. He tells them where to line up; he knows the plays, could hit a pass, could run. He's just a special kid."
Mahoning dominated the first 24 minutes, outgaining Trumbull 211-23 and holding the ball for 18:17, compared to just 5:43.
Mahoning finished with 246 yards rushing, including 87 from Smith and 78 from Hughes.
"We knew we had two horses in Smith and Ja'les Hughes, and PJ Quinn is no small child to bring down," Kopachy said. "They'll be the first ones to give credit to the boys on the line, the Vazquez-Atkins twins (Troy and Ty) on the right side dominated all night long; Steve Manypenny, a guard for us, led that line and did well; Anthony Harris from Youngstown Christian did a great job; and our centers Chris Penson and Dakota Mohan."
Trumbull County Player of the Year Dan Graziano was held in check by the Mahoning defense, completing 2-of-3 passes for 20 yards and rushing for only 1 yard on four carries.
His high school career ended when he hurt his knee on Trumbull's final drive of the first half. He was replaced by Matt Brazin, who had been a wide receiver up until that point in the game.
"He tore his knee up pretty bad. He's walking on it," Yeager said. "Hopefully he'll be all right, but I don't know what his diagnosis is. "
Brazin stepped in and led Trumbull to its only score, connecting on a 67-yard bomb to Byrd to make the score 28-7 with 5:59 left in the game.
Brazin completed 4-of-12 passes for 81 yards. He was intercepted by Anthony Abeid with 2:31 left to end Trumbull's final drive.
Brazin was selected as Trumbull County's MVP.
"When you have someone like Matt Brazin who played quarterback and can step in and make plays for you, that made things a lot easier," Yeager said.
Hughes added his second touchdown from 18 yards out with 3:52 to play.