RICHMOND - Martins Ferry's Arjay Burress fumbled on the sixth play of the game helping set Edison rolling toward a 21-0 advantage it held late in the second quarter.
Unfortunately for the Wildcats, that wasn't Burress' last word as the running back collected 154 of his 200 yards rushing and all three of his touchdowns in the second half en route to a 34-21 Purple Riders victory Friday night at Cartwright Field.
"He's a sophomore and he doesn't want to fumble, but sometimes when you're giving great effort that will happen," Martins Ferry coach Dave Bruney said. "He ran hard. All of our backs blocked for each other, and our line did a great job
''I couldn't be prouder of our team.''
With the score standing 21-7 at halftime, the Wildcats took the second-half kickoff and marched 48 yards in 12 plays down to the Martins Ferry 15-yard line. On third-and-9 Mark Douglas scooped up a Nolan Marcus fumble and brought it back to the Ferry 32. Five plays later Burress drove in from 3 yards out.
Big plays on the drive were a 31-yard run by Burress and a 22-yard run by Brian Styles. The extra point was blocked, but the Riders cut the lead to 21-13 with five minutes left in the third quarter.
"We got it rolling early," Edison coach Derrick Stickles said. "We were up 21-0. We got up, and they came back, but we need to learn how to finish.
"That's the corner we have to turn from this point. We had them down, we have to learn to keep teams down, and finish the game."
A Wildcats' three-and-out led to the Purple Riders tying the game.
Taking over at its 21, Martins Ferry went 79 yards on seven run plays. Jahad Joyce ran over an Edison tackler on his 10-yard scoring run, and Styles ran in the 2-point conversion to make the score 21-21 with 34 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
Another Edison punt had Martins Ferry driving again, but Tyler Stagani recovered a Styles fumble at the Wildcats 24-yard line to end the threat.
Ferry took the ball back three plays later when Jake Barritt dove in front of a Marcus pass for an interception, giving the Purple Riders the ball at the home team's 38.
Six plays later Burress scored from 7 yards out. A second extra point was blocked, but Martins Ferry led for the first time at 27-21 with 3:14 left in the game.
"I think it's Martins Ferry," Stickles said. "They have a great coaching staff, they have great players, and they made good halftime adjustments. I think that's what it was. If you look at the game in the first half they were hitting us a lot inside with the run game.
"In the second half they started using their speed on the edge and they were getting the corner. They're running backs and quarterback were doing a great job."
Ferry's defense forced a turnover on downs when a Marcus pass to Rich Springer fell to the grass at the Riders 44-yard line, and Burress put the finishing touches on the game with a 49-yard touchdown followed by an extra point with 29 seconds remaining to make the final 34-21.
"We haven't had a bad practice all year," Bruney said. "They had a good game plan. The speed of that zone read is very hard to simulate in practice when you have a freshman running it and then you're facing a good senior in the game.
"That's kind of tough, and they did a great job. My hat's off to them. My hats off to our kids too though. This is our third game in a row on the road, and we just found a way to do it."
The first half saw Edison score touchdowns on its first three possessions.
Marcus went in on runs of 1 and 11 yards and also connected with Storm Allese on a 22-yard touchdown toss. Marcus had 197 yards passing with a score and pick to go with 89 yards and two scores on the ground.