SOUTH EUCLID, Ohio — We're all thrilled to have college football back, but perhaps none are more excited than the smaller schools of Northeast Ohio.
Many programs had their 2020 seasons either canceled or postponed to the spring thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, and playoffs were scrapped altogether. Now, the full slate of action has returned to its rightful place in the fall, and things kicked off in grand fashion Saturday in South Euclid.
RELATES: More sports coverage from 3News
Notre Dame College beat Ashland 42-35 in overtime of a thrilling back-and-forth season opener for both teams. Chris Brimm's 11-yard touchdown pass to Devanaire Conliffe proved to be the decisive score before the Falcons stopped the Eagles on a fourth-and-1.
Neither team led by more than seven at any point in the matchup, with Notre Dame tying it at 14 before halftime on a 65-yard fumble return by Guam Lee before Bryce Sheppert took the opening second-half kickoff 99 yards for a score. Ashland manage to retake the lead early in the fourth quarter on quarterback Austin Brenner's 10-yard run, but Davis Patterson's 16-yard scamper made it 35-35 less than five minutes later, and the game ended up needing an extra period.
Brimm found Conliffe in the right corner of the end zone on the third play of OT, but the Eagles had a chance to tie it back up on their own possession. However, on fourth down from the 16, Gei'vonni Washington was stuffed by Lee and Dylan Spaeth, securing the victory for the Falcons.
Brenner accounted for 446 of Ashland's 548 yards of total offense (compared to just 296 for Notre Dame), but his team was doomed by three turnovers and six penalties. Brimm was 15 for 25 passing for 158 yards and two touchdowns.
Notre Dame College will have a short rest before heading to West Virginia Thursday to face Wheeling in its Mountain East Conference opener, while Ashland will open Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference play at home against Ferris State next Saturday.