Pennsylvania, New York stars battle to tie in wild Big 30 game

Justin Eck, a 2019 Youngsville High grad representing the Warren Dragons and team Pennsylvania, wrestles down New York’s Jake Peters (Franklinville-Ellicottville) during the first half of Friday’s Big 30 All-Star Charities Classic at Parkway Field in Bradford. The two squads battled to a 27-27 tie.

BRADFORD, Pa. – Saturday’s 46th annual Big 30 All-Star Charities Classic featured all the pageantry that comes along with a contest steeped in tradition. It also had a number of top-notch plays, a frenetic fourth-quarter comeback and a whole bunch of penalty flags.

What it didn’t have was a winner.

For just the third time in the history of the game, Pennsylvania and New York battled to a tie, 27-27, before a capacity crowd at Bradford High’s Parkway Field.

“No I haven’t, and I’m glad I haven’t until now,” said Warren’s Devin McMeans on experiencing a stalemate. “It’s not the way you want to end it, but it is what it is. All-in-all, it was a fun two weeks. I met a whole bunch of new people, great athletes. It was amazing.”

Which at the end of the day, is what this game is all about. Sure, both teams wanted to win, but they will remember so much more than just the final score.

Eisenhower’s Riley West of Pennsylvania locks in on New York’s Ryan Gernatt (Gowanda-Pine Valley) during the first half of Saturday’s Big 30 All-Star Chrarities Classic on Saturday at Bradford’s Parkway Field. The two teams battled to a 27-27 tie, just the third stalemate in the 46-year history of the game.

Warren County was well represented. Suiting up for Pennsylvania were Sheffield’s Nick Knowles, Eisenhower’s Riley West, Nate Holt and Ethan Chambers and McMeans, Collin Salapek, Justin Eck and Marvin Bryant. Eck is a 2019 Youngsville grad who played for the Dragons the last two seasons in their newly-formed co-op.

Eck, Knowles, Holt and West all were part of the same defensive group, with Eck and Knowles lining up next to each other at tackle and Holt and West in the defensive backfield.

Team PA held New York in check for three quarters and looked as if they were going to roll to their fourth-straight win in the series, leading 27-6.

New York quarterback Nick Rinker (Pioneer) had other ideas, however. He threw for 181 yards and three touchdowns – two of which went to DeAndre Ahrens (Cuba-Rushford).

“He (Rinker) really was the difference-maker,” said Pennsylvania coach Jeff Puglio of Bradford. “Defensively, we kind of let him out. He scrambled and we kind of got out of position a few times, our ends weren’t in contain enough to kind of give him the scrambles that he got and extend drives. But he got a hot hand.”

Warren's Marvin Bryant gets an assists from former high school teammate (Devin McMeans) as he fights for extra yards during the first half of Saturday's Big 30 game.

Noah Costa (Smethport) kicked a pair of first-half field goals, while Donnie Pattison (Bradford) scored on a 13-yard touchdown run and Mason Klesa (Coudersport) connected with Issac Schloder (Ridgway) to give PA a 20-6 halftime lead.

Cole Secco (Ridgway) broke free for a 65-yard touchdown run late in the third to make it 27-6 before the dramatic comeback.

Bryant and Chambers both ran the ball well out of the backfield for team Pennsylvania, while Salapek helped pave the way at offensive tackle. McMeans caught three passes in an offense that is very run-heavy.

“It’s just getting out of your comfort zone and competing with people just as good as you and raising the bar for yourself,” McMeans said about what he took with him from the entire Big 30 experience.

For all eight Warren County athletes, as well as the rest of the players on both sides, it was a perfect ending to their high school careers.

Sheffield's Nick Knowles takes a quick breather between plays.

“This game, being a part of this game, is just a whole other source of happiness for me,” McMeans said. “The whole feeling of playing football one last time, it’s a great way to end it.”

Warren's Devin McMeans shares a laugh with teammate Daunte Allegretto or Ridgway.

Warren offensive tackle Collin Salapek gets set.

Eisenhower's Nate Holt is introduced before the game.

Eisenhower's Ethan Chambers fights for extra yards.