The Martins Ferry Purple Riders came from behind to knock off arch-rivals Bellaire 22-17, and reclaim the SPARKY trophy, at Nelson Field on Saturday afternoon.
The Purple Riders (9-1), who have home field advantage in next week's Division 5 Region 17 post-season, finished as the No.2 seed in the region and will host Williamsport Westfall (5-5) next Saturday night at 7 at Purple Rider Stadium.
The loss puts the Big Reds (7-3) on the road for the opening round of the Division 6 Region 21 playoffs next Friday night. They'll be matched against either Newark Catholic (9-0) or Centerburg (10-0).
Martins Ferry trailed 17-7 after one quarter, and 17-14 at the half, but the Purple Riders' defense shut them out in the second half.
Martins Ferry quarterback Brian Styles rushed the ball 20 times for 80 yards and a touchdown. He also completed 6-of-11 passes for 105 yards and a touchdown to Jake Barritt. Arjay Burress added 90 yards on the ground on 12 carries. Styles hit Marcus Sutton down the sideline to set up the go-ahead score, a two-yard Bryce Coleman touchdown plunge. Styles added the two-point conversion.
Bellaire quarterback Spencer Badia made history, passing Nate Davis as the school's all-time leading passer, and becoming the first quarterback in OVAC history to account for over 8,000 yards of total offense. Badia passed for 228 yards and added nine on the ground. He heads into the post-season with 8,002 career yards.
The Purple Riders gambled, deep in their own end, on two occasions late in the game, but were never burned. The turned the ball over on down, but kept Bellaire out of the end zone on each possession.
The Purple Riders have now won four of the last five in one of the longest running rivalries in Ohio, but the Big Reds own an overall series lead of 53-48-7.