TDs by HS rivals pushed Ohio State here

Ohio State is 22-0 when Devin Smith scores a touchdown.  

Matthew Emmons/Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

DALLAS –– Ohio State plays for the national championship Monday night vs. Oregon.

It got here with touchdowns from graduates of storied Ohio high school programs Massillon and Canton McKinley in the Sugar Bowl win over Alabama.

"Pretty crazy," Ohio State wide receiver and Massillon graduate Devin Smith said. "I hadn’t thought about it, but that’s pretty cool."

Steve Miller’s 41-yard interception return touchdown in the third quarter put Ohio State up 34-21. Smith’s 47-yard touchdown catch preceded that.

Ohio State is now 22-0 in Smith’s career when he catches a touchdown pass. Both Smith and Miller are seniors.

"It’s huge to have a Massillon guy and a McKinley guy score in that game," Smith said. "Especially back at home, two Stark County kids making plays in a big game and winning, I can only thank God for all the blessings."

Miller said he read Alabama quarterback Blake Sims all the way on his drop, got several good blocks after intercepting the ball and "just ran until I was exhausted" and across the goal line.

"We get a chance to go out by playing for the national championship," Miller said. "That’s a dream. To have both a McKinley guy and a Massillon guy score to get us there, that’s incredible. That’s a great rivalry back home and we just hope people on both sides are rooting for us."

Massillon and McKinley are Ohio’s winningest high school football programs and the state’s only programs with more than 800 all-time victories. The schools are separated by about eight miles in Stark County. McKinley plays its home games in Fawcett Stadium, adjacent to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Massillon plays its home games in Paul Brown Tiger Stadium.

Yes, that Paul Brown.

Fifteen of Ohio State’s 22 listed first-teamers are Ohio natives, including all five offensive linemen. Four of those 15 are seniors.

"We know everybody at home is watching," Ohio State cornerback and Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary graduate Doran Grant said. "We know what football means in Ohio, and we want to be the next team to bring home a national championship."

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