FEATURED PHOTO CREDITS: JESSICA NUZZO (BLUEFIELD DAILY TIMES)
#16 Tyler Consolidated at #1 Wheeling Central
Well, Curtis McGhee III made his return and was quite the difference. After missing three games (two close wins and their only loss), the star quarterback had quite a game. Nearing 300 yards passing and five touchdowns- he and Braden Price got back on track for over 100 yards and three touchdowns in the first half. We saw fight out of Tyler with an early 97 yard pass from Griffin Phillips to Mark Rucker, however, the Maroon Knights would finish the first quarter up 34-6. The dominating #1 seed proved that they were okay especially with McGhee back. They would cruise to a 61-30 win and get a rematch with Magnolia two weeks after their only defeat.
#15 Tucker County at #2 Midland Trail
This game went as expected with a late Midland Trail rally to seal the deal. However, what was not expected was Patriots’ QB Austin Isaacs to leave the game in the first quarter. The backup QB, Chris Vines, was taken down for a safety in the second quarter which gave Tucker County a 2-0 lead that lasted through the half. However, they only had 46 yards of offense on the night and as Vines got more comfortable and Morgan Ferris picked up his load as the runner, the Patriots outscored their guests by 14 in the second half for a 14-2 victory. They will host a dangerous Sherman team next week, and the chances of Isaacs returning are not known.
#14 Ritchie County at #3 Mount View
This was one of the more thrilling contests in the first round. It started as expected with a hard-nosed Mount View drive capped by a Terry Headen TD run. However, the Rebels quickly countered with their own drive and score to go behind 7-6. Elijah
Barner answered again in the early second and was only matched in the third by Ritchie County- Mount View held a 13-12 lead. The momentum turned when the Rebels pinned the Knights deep on a punt and followed it with safety. Up 14-13 with only three minutes left, Ritchie County could not hold off Barner, a senior, for a go-ahead score. The Rebels were then intercepted and Barner scored yet again- going up 28-14 just like that. Another late Ritchie turnover was capitalized for another Mount View touchdown for a startling 21 points to end the game 34-12. They will host Williamstown in round two.
#13 Webster County at #4 Doddridge County
Doddridge County took the field and so did the state’s leading rusher after one game out. They immediately took a 27-point lead over the outmatched Webster County. Hunter America was given the rock a multitude of times for an incredible six touchdowns and over 300 yards rushing- four scores came in the first. Though Luke Hardway and the Highlanders stayed fighting- there was no stopping the Bulldog run game. Doddridge County stayed undefeated with the 40-14 win and now look to take on the only other undefeated Single A program in round two: Cameron.
#12 Van at #5 Cameron
After back-to-back years of losing in the first round, the Dragons took care of Van. The Dragons’ story was taking advantage of Bulldog mistakes. With the opening kickoff fumbled and capitalized by an Andrew Ritchea touchdown run and a late Gavin Smith deep pass fumbled and countered with another Ritchea score- Cameron, behind some good throws by Jessop Broughton, built a 24-0 lead early in the first half. The defense held strong as Van attempted a late resurgence but a bend don’t break mentality stalled many drives as the Dragons won 30-12. Ritche finished with over 200 yards as they go on the road to Doddridge County next week.
#11 Summers County at #6 Williamstown
The story of this game came in ground vs air. As the Yellowjackets limited Marcus McGuire, it was up to Timmy Persiani to keep Summers County in it. With Donathan Taylor running well, Williamstown maintained a steady lead that was cut short in the second after a series of long passes by Persiani and a score right before the half to have Summers County only down 14-12. However, Williamstown adjusted defensively while the Bobcats lacked an answer for Taylor, who finished with over 150 yards. They would run the ball and clock out of the stadium for the 27-12 win. They will travel to Mount View in the quarterfinals.
#10 Parkersburg Catholic at #7 Sherman
In one of the muddier games around the state, the Tide’s ground game found success unlike their opponent’s. In dominating fashion, Parkersburg Catholic’s offense was littered with three-and-outs. While every possession for the Tide was a rushing TD that had them up 21-0 in the first. This theme continued as the Crusaders, who had two backs combined for over 3000 yards rushing, had -11 rushing yards as a team in the first half. JT Hensley and Tommy Harper never let them in it as the field worsened. Sherman would win 44-8 and prepare to go into Hico and upset #2 Midland Trail next week.
#9 Magnolia at #8 Pendleton County
One week off their best win of the year and Magnolia made the long drive to Pendleton County. In sloppy field conditions, both offenses got off to quick starts. After exchanging opening touchdowns, the Wildcats were deep in Magnolia territory. Insert a goal line stand and full-field drive capped off by a Gage Adams touchdown run. The score would go 14-6 into the half. The third quarter back was storied by two blocked punts by the Eagles- one resulting in a touchdown and the other in a safety for a safe 22-6 lead. The conditions disallowed any Pendleton comeback and Magnolia would win 28-6. They rematch with Wheeling Central in the quarterfinals.