(11-22-20) OHSAA Release – MASSILLON, Ohio – On his first varsity field goal attempt, sophomore Damon McCracken kicked a 25-yard field goal in the rain with nine seconds left to send Van Wert past Mentor Lake Catholic in the Division IV state championship Sunday at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium.
It marks the first football state championship for Van Wert (11-1), which was the state runner-up in 2000. The Cougars trailed 21-7 in the third quarter, but the last five times they had the ball they scored three touchdowns and kicked the game-winning field goal. The 14-point come-from-behind win ties the Division IV state championship game record for largest deficit overcome to win.
Lake Catholic (8-3) takes home the state runner-up trophy after winning state titles in its three previous trips to the final (1991, 1992 and 2001).
Neither team was ranked in the final Associated Press state poll and both had to win regional playoff games on the road, as Van Wert was the No. 5 seed and Lake Catholic was a No. 12 seed. Van Wert beat state-ranked Bellevue (No. 4) and Shelby (No. 8) in the regional playoffs and No. 3 Cincinnati Wyoming in the state semifinal. Lake Catholic beat No. 5 Carroll Bloom-Carroll in the state semifinal.
Van Wert senior quarterback Owen Treece was responsible for all four of his team’s touchdowns. He completed 27-of-44 passes for 274 yards and three touchdowns and rushed for 68 yards and a score on 19 carries. His passing touchdowns came from two yards out to Maddix Crutchfield early in the second quarter, from 42 yards out to Connor Pratt early in the fourth quarter and then from 15 yards away to Nate Jackson with 2:30 left in the game that tied the score at 28-28.
After Van Wert tied the game, Lake Catholic threw an interception, giving the ball back to Van Wert near midfield with 1:09 left in the game. Treece completed two passes for 15 and 12 yards, respectively, and then ran it twice for gains of 13 and seven yards to set up the game-winning field goal.
Lake Catholic quarterback Joe Malchesky totaled 219 yards rushing on 30 carried and had touchdown runs of 53 yards in the third quarter and 50 yards in the fourth quarter. He also led the defense with 11.5 tackles, a forced fumble, 2.5 tackles behind the line of scrimmage and an interception.
For Van Wert, junior Turner Witten, junior Ty Jackson and sophomore Aidan Pratt led the way with seven tackles apiece. Treece and senior Dru Johnson both notched interceptions.
9:23 Van Wert – Owen Treece stopped on a 4th and goal opportunity at the 2 yard line on their opening possession.
6:15 Lake Catholic forced to punt and Dru Johnson blocks the punt for Van Wert and gets the ball at the LC 15 yard line
11:56 Lake Catholic gets a trick play TD on 4th down with a HB pass from Nick Brandt to Brady Bowser.
9:53 Van Wert – Owen Treece to Maddix Crutchfield on a 4th and goal play from 1 yard out.
7:26 Treece intercepted on third and 5 by Malcheski for Lake Catholic
— Lake Catholic fumbles on the the first play of the drive after the interception and Van Wert recovers
7:05 Owen Treece is sacked and fumbles the ball and Lake Catholic recovers. Three combined turnovers in 30 seconds. Lake Catholic takes over at the Van Wert 21 yard line
5:04 Lake Catholic Ryan Joy with a 1-yard TD run
Lake Catholic 14 Van Wert 7
11:46 Van Wert – Owen Treece finds Connor Pratt for a 42-yard TD pass
5:25 LC – QB Joe Malcheski goes around the left side and takes it 50 yards for a score for LC
2:30 VW -Owen Treece 15 yard pass to Nate Jackson
1:09 VW – Dru Johnson with an INT for Van Wert
:09 VW – Damon McCracken hits the 25-yard FG