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Warren-Meadville: A history of thrilling games

Warren's Aidan Morrison holds up the ball after a fumble recovery as teammate Alex Anderson (10) points Warren's way in the fourth quarter of the 2018 Miracle in Meadville.

Something about when Warren and Meadville meet on the gridiron lends itself to exciting, heart-pounding contests.

Indeed, some of the most memorable games in the recent history of Warren football have come against the Bulldogs.

The names may change, but the games remain legendary, and there have been so many players over the course of the years that have contributed to these classics.

So, with both teams coming into tonight’s matchup at War Memorial Field, at 3-1 is yet another instant classic forthcoming?

We’ll find out soon, but until then, let’s take a trip down memory lane at some of the most exhilarating Warren-Meadville matchups of the last quarter-century.

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1997Warren 26,

Meadville 24, 2-OT

During the mid- to late-90s, the games between Meadville and Warren weren’t particularly close. Though blowouts, the games played in 1998 and 1999 still carry historic significance. The 42-0 Bulldogs victory in 1998 was the first game played on the newly renovated War Memorial Field. The Dragons 42-14 thumping in Meadville the following season saw running back Chris Blodgett set a school-record with 388 rushing yards.

There was one instant classic played between the two schools during this time, however. In 1997, Warren traveled to Meadville. The Dragons had already won a pair of overtime thrillers to start the season (a three OT win at Erie East followed by an OT win versus Franklin) and they would find themselves duking it out in OT once again. The game was historic for Meadville as it was the Bulldogs’ first-ever venture into overtime.

Both teams featured high-powered running attacks and combined for 444 yards and eight touchdowns in the contest. Warren’s Jeremy Lawson ran for 152 yards and a pair of scores, while Javar Manning (101 yards) and Bo Woodrow (150 yards) had over 250 combined yards and two TDs.

Andrew Marano opened the scoring in the first quarter with a 1-yard run. That held until the third when Manning ran in from nine yards out. Lawson put the Dragons back on top in the fourth quarter, but Meadville quarterback Miles O’Shea snuck it in from the one with 15 seconds to go.

Both teams had issues with point-after attempts. Warren’s kicks missed, while Meadville was unable to get the snap down on either of its attempts. The issue continued in the overtime.

Manning scored on the opening possession of the first overtime but was stuffed by Tony Richards, Dusty Wilson and Eric Heid on the conversion attempt. Lawson answered for Warren, but the PAT kick sailed wide left. Chris Maljovec scored to open the second OT. This time, the Dragons went for two and Lawson followed an Ian Norris block to get in.

Facing fourth down, Meadville turned to Woodrow who plunged into the endzone. The Bulldogs looked to Woodrow on the conversion to tie, but Andrew Breese and Jeremiah Newark held him up and a host of Dragons finished him off for the victory.

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2001

Warren 37, Meadville 34, 4-OT

At the time, the longest game in the history of Warren football ended with a Sam Kingston field goal in the fourth overtime.

This season proved to be a precursor to one of the best season’s in program history in 2002 (9-2 and an appearance in the D-10 title game). The young core, led by the likes of Mike Cradduck, Dave Ditka, Mike Moore, and Ben Reinke, among others, gutted out a win in one of the wildest installments of this fierce rivalry.

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2004

Warren 52, Meadville 45, 6-OT

Perhaps no game better illustrates the greatness of this rivalry than the 2004 edition. Both teams came into the game with losing records and any thoughts of the postseason had long since evaporated.

Whan transpired over the next three hours was, at the time, the longest game in the history of Pennsylvania high school football. That record has since been matched, but no one who played in that game will ever forget it.

Meadville’s student section came down from the stands to stand behind the end zone at the start of the first overtime when the two teams were deadlocked at 14. They stood for a long time.

Meadville kicked a short field goal to take a 24-21 lead in the second overtime and the Dragons went backward in three downs, setting up a 38-yard attempt from Scott Lorganer, who drilled the kick to keep the game going.

Quarterback Ben Paul accounted for three rushing touchdowns in the overtime periods and also threw a touchdown to Nick Reynolds, who also scored on the ground in the extra sessions.

After Paul’s 1-yard run made it 52-45 in the sixth overtime, the Dragons forced a 4th-and-10 and were finally able to end the marathon, as a fourth down pass attempt from the Bulldogs fell incomplete.

It was a difficult season, but this team showed its character in what has to be considered one of the most breathtaking wins in the history of the program.

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2014

Warren 79, Meadville 78

A game you had to see to believe. This one was picked up by national outlets due in large part to the obscene offensive numbers put up.

For Warren, Evan Suppa threw for a then school-record 338 yards and four touchdowns, while Kyle Kulka carried the ball for 333 yards and five touchdowns and averaged 13.3 yards per rushing attempt. Ryan Shattuck and D.J. Fehlman both went over 100 yards receiving.

Meadville’s Journey Brown and Antonio Ferraro were equally impressive. Brown, who earned his first career college start for Penn State in their 17-10 win over Pitt last week, carried 18 times for 323 yards and three touchdowns, an average of 17.9 yards per touch. Ferraro scored four times and had 175 yards on the ground.

Shattuck also set a school record with a 49-yard field goal at the end of the first half.

The game had 1,554 yards of total offense – 799 from the Bulldogs and 755 from the Dragons.

Ironically, however, it was the Warren defense that sealed the win, stopping the Bulldogs on a fourth-and-goal with 2:10 remaining.

“I really don’t even know what to say right now,” Kulka said after the win. “The guys just came out and played hard. That was pretty crazy.”

The game stands certainly as the craziest in the history of War Memorial Field, there can be little debate about that.

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2018

Warren 21, Meadville 20

The Miracle in Meadville was something to behold.

Down 20-13 with two minutes to go and Meadville looking to go up two scores, Aidan Morrison stripped the ball at the goal line and recovered it himself.

A short run by Marvin Bryant, a pass from Jake Kupchella to Devin McMeans and a personal foul penalty had the Dragons set up at their own 38. From their, Kupchella connected with McMeans again, and he did the rest, racing into the end zone 1:03 to go.

The Dragons went for two and got it, courtesy of Bryant. Alex Anderson sealed the win moments later with his second interception of the fourth quarter.

It was another one of those games you had to see to believe. The Dragons were dead to rights, and then they weren’t. It was one of the more remarkable victories in the history of the rivalry.

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