EDINBORO, Pa. -- Ernest James has been in the position countless times, but Sunday's final match against Kent State certainly had a bizarre ending. The junior heavyweight came away with a 4-2 decision in a tiebreaker to provide 16th-ranked Edinboro with the winning margin in a 20-19 win over Kent State at McComb Fieldhouse. The Fighting Scots improved to 9-4 while the Golden Flashes are now 9-5.
Edinboro had grabbed a 17-4 lead after five matches, but Kent State came back to win the next four matches and take a 19-17 lead heading into the heavyweight bout.
In his third year as the starter at heavyweight, James, ranked 20th by InterMat, has been entered the final match needing a win to secure the dual victory on numerous occasions. Standing in his path this time was KSU's Keith Witt. The two had met earlier in the year with James claiming a 1-0 win over Witt at the Michigan State Open.
Following a scoreless first period, James opened the scoring with a escape 30 seconds into the second period. Witt answered with an escape with 1:15 remaining in the third, and neither wrestler scored in overtime.
James started the tiebreaker on the bottom. He was awarded a point when Witt was called for locked hands with 15 seconds left. He was able to work for an apparent reversal just prior to the buzzer. The official conferred with the table and then confirmed the call, giving James a 4-1 lead. He would rideout Witt over the next 30 seconds, although Witt received a point for stalling at the buzzer. With the win James improved to 20-8.
One other match proved key to the triumph. Casey Fuller (7-9) claimed a 12-10 decision in overtime against Tommy Sasfy (13-15) at 157 lbs. Fuller was replacing regular starter Michael Depalma in the lineup.
Fuller jumped out to a surprising 7-1 lead after one period thanks to a pair of takedowns and three near-fall points, the second takedown coming with two seconds left. Sasfy closed the match to 9-8 after two periods with three takedowns and an escape.
A Sasfy reversal gave the Golden Flashes a 10-9 lead, but Fuller would escape with just under a minute left. In overtime Sasfy moved in for the winning takedown with a single-leg shot, but Fuller was able to spin through and claim his own takedown with 21 seconds left. That gave Edinboro a 17-4 lead.
The match opened with KSU's Stevie Mitcheff (24-10) recording four takedowns for a 10-2 major decision over Kory Mines (13-15) at 125 lbs. Mines had defeated Mitcheff, 9-4, earlier in the year.
Edinboro claimed the next four bouts, three by bonus points. A.J. Schopp came up with his 16th fall of the season and 35th of his career with a pin of Mack McGuire (21-15) at 2:52. Schopp, now 25-2, is ranked third at 133 lbs.
Mitchell Port followed with a 14-3 major decision over Luke Kern (8-20). The sophomore, ranked fifth at 141 lbs. and now 25-3, jumped out to a 7-1 lead after one period thanks to two takedowns and three near-fall points. He added two escapes in the second for a 9-3 advantage, then picked up a stalling point and three more near-fall points in the third, along with owning 3:02 in riding time.
Dave Habat, ranked 16th at 149 lbs., boosted his record to 22-7 with a 15-5 major decision over Andy Candiello. All told he recorded six takedowns.
After Fuller's win at 157 lbs. made it 17-4, Kent State picked up 3-2 decisions at 165 and 174 lbs. In what was considered one of the key swing bouts, Caleb Marsh improved to 19-7 with the decision over Johnny Greisheimer. After a scoreless first period, Greisheimer's two escapes in the second period bracketed a takedown by Marsh. Marsh came up with the winning escape 27 seconds into the third period. The loss dropped Greisheimer to 15-10.
At 174 lbs., redshirt freshman Patrick Jennings narrowly missed upsetting Sam Wheeler, who now owns a 23-9 record. It was 2-1 Wheeler after the first period, and a Jennings escape was the lone point in the second period. Wheeler would escape 12 seconds into the final period to drop Jennings to 12-19.
Casey Newburg, ranked 17th at 184 lbs., improved to 31-5 with a 10-0 major decision over Vince Pickett. He had a takedown in each period, plus two near-fall points in the first. Pickett, a true freshman, fell to 19-12.
Top-ranked Dustin Kilgore displayed how he won a national championship at 197 lbs. in 2011 with a 16-1 technical fall over Warren Bosch. He took down Bosh twenty seconds into the match, then turned the redshirt freshman four times for a 13-1 lead after one period. Bosch began the second period on the bottom, and the wining near-fall points came at the second period buzzer. While losing to fall to 12-14, Bosch was able to deny Kilgore the pin and kept Edinboro in the match. Kilgore leads Division I with 20 falls.
Edinboro returns to action on Saturday, February 16, wrestling at second-ranked Iowa.
125 Stevie Mitcheff (KSU) maj. dec. Kory Mines (EU), 10-2 0-4
133 #3 A.J. Schopp (EU) fall over Mack McGuire (KSU), 2:52 6-4
141 #5 Mitchell Port (EU) maj. dec. Luke Kern (KSU), 14-3 10-4
149 #16 Dave Habat (EU) maj dec. Andy Candiello (KSU), 15-5 14-4
157 Casey Fuller (EU) dec. Tommy Sasfy (KSU), 12-10 sv 17-4
165 Caleb Marsh (KSU) dec. Johnny Greisheimer (EU), 3-2 17-7
174 Sam Wheeler (KSU) dec. Patrick Jennings (EU), 3-2 17-10
184 Casey Newburg (KSU) maj. dec. Vince Pickett (EU), 10-0 17-14
197 Dustin Kilgore (KSU) tech. fall Warren Bosch (EU), 16-1 (5:00) 17-19
HWT #20 Ernest James (EU) dec. Keith Witt (KSU), 4-2 tb 20-19