By DAVE MORRISON
WHEELING - Maybe there was a higher power at work for homestandng Linsly Saturday afternoon.
Maybe it was just a head coach listening to his assistants that was the difference.
Probably, it was an offensive line blowing a hole just big enough for a 5-foot-11, 225-pound running back who wouldn't be denied that propelled Linsly (7-2) to a dramatic 43-42 victory against Gilmour Academy at Lockhart Alumni Stadium.
When Chimechi Oparanozie bulled into the end zone on a two-point conversion in overtime giving the Cadets, coach B.J. Depew was not really surprised.
"I'll tell you what this win means to us," Depew said, amidst taking congratulations from faculty and alumni. "We dedicated this game to one of our former players, Ryan Riethmiller, who is a sophomore lineman at Bucknell. He's battling a rare form of cancer. He's a tough kid, a kid we think about every day. For us to win like that, I think he would like that, being an offensive lineman. Our kids responded to a pressure situation. It was a gut check and they came through."
Depew wasn't even going to go for the win, given his kicker, Zak Kriechbaum, has been nearly automatic.
"My initial thought was to go for one, tie it up, and give it back to the defense," Depew said. "But my assistants told me they thought we could do this, so I give them all the credit. The kids believed we could do it. And we have a 225-pound running back, why not let him give him the ball."
After a timeout, Gilmour coach Shawn Dodd, wasn't surprised.
"We fully expected them to go for two," Dodd said. "We were prepared for it. It was just a well-executed play. You have to give them credit."
The ending mirrored the type of game it was, back in forth with several momentum shifts.
Gilmour looked to be in control midway through the fourth, up 28-21 and having the ball after holding the Cadets on downs.
Then Isaiah Harvin happened.
First, the sophomore intercepted a Matt Botek pass, just his second interception of the year, setting up a Jameson Murray to Oparanozie 12-yard touchdown pass. On the play, Murray spun out of trouble and spotted Oparanozie in the flat, wide open.
That tied the score at 28-28.
On Gilmour's next play, Harvin once again picked off Botek.
On the next play, Murray hit Kriechbaum on a 46-yard touchdown pass giving the Cadets the lead with 2:52 left.
"In a game full of big plays, those two interceptions by Harvin might have been the biggest plays of the game," Depew said. "They really got us jump-started again. We needed those in the worst way and he came through for us."
Gilmour (7-2) had enough time on the clock, though.
Botek and his favorite receiver, A.J. Wright, hooked up on a 30-yard reception, which Wright (five receptions, 193 yards) pulled down with one arm extended. That set up Botek's five-yard game-tying scamper with 1:25 remaining. Connor Lesko's extra point hit the right upright but dropped through, sending the game to overtime.
Ishmael Hargrove scored on Gilmour's first play, on a 20-yard scamper when the Lancers went to the wildcat, something they had done, with limited success, earlier in the game.
The Cadets came back, picking up a key first down on a fourth-and-1 run by Chukwudi Chukwu, normally a lineman, ahead of 5-yard touchdown run by Jay Mascara.
The game was tide at 14-14 at the half, with Linsly taking advantage of two bad punts by Gilmour.
Mascara scored both touchdowns.
A bad punt by Linsly, in which a lineman was blocked back into the punter, set up a two-yard run by Rodell Golphin and a interception of Murray, a rare mistake by the senior quarterback, allowed Botek and Wright to hook up on a 10-yard toss to tie the game.
Murray finished the game completing 15 of 18 passes for 156 yards and three scores.
Oparanozie added 113 yards on 21 carries.
Both players eclipsed 1,000 yards in the game, Murray passing and Oparanozie rushing.
Botek completed 11 of 22 passes for the Lancers for254 yards, 216 of that coming in the second half.