By Steve Keenan
Buoyed by a solid second-half effort, Independence swept its way past opportunistic Midland Trail 28-21 Friday, handing new coach Chris Vicars his first win.
After spotting Midland Trail a 21-7 lead at the intermission, Independence took control of the contest in the second half, getting big gains on the sweep play to both sides of the field and wearing down its Fayette County foe by posting three unanswered scores in the final two quarters.
“We have some athletic kids, and our goal is to figure out how to get them out in space,” explained Vicars. “And we’ve got (more) kids we can rotate in and out.”
After “a lot of mistakes” in the first half — including two botched punt attempts and a long punt return score nullified by a penalty — Vicars said he told his team at halftime simply to relax, and the Patriots responded by dominating the second half offensively and pitching a shutout on the defensive side.
“They beat us to the outside,” said Midland Trail coach Joe Dean. “We had people (defenders) out there, whether they got out of position or whether Independence (beat them with its speed).
“If you can’t stop that...”
Dean called the setback “tremendously disappointing.”
Midland had a potential score wiped off the board early in the fourth period, with the hosts clinging to a 21-20 lead. Fielding a punt, Independence’s Bill Sargent apparently touched the ball, and Trail’s Austin Burdette picked it up and raced to the end zone. The officials waved off the score, though, giving Trail the ball at the Independence 11. A key sack by Cody Collins eventually forced Midland into a desperation pass into the end zone, and they ended that possession with nothing to show for it.
“They said you can’t advance a muffed ball,” Dean said of the officials.
The Raleigh County Patriots then iced the win with a 1-yard TD plunge by quarterback Brian Sexton with 2:17 remaining. On a fourth-and-goal from the 1, Sexton bobbled the snap before recovering it and crossing the goal line for the score and a 26-21 lead ahead of Colton Ward’s two-point conversion.
“We were going to run a fullback play,” said Vicars. “I think he (Sexton) got in a hurry, but he was able to recover.”
Dean said he thought Sexton’s momentum was stopped but that he’d have to look at the game film for further edification.
“Give Independence the credit,” he added.
The hosts had a final crack at regaining the lead, but Independence’s Ryan Brandstetter tackled quarterback-turned-receiver Collin Carte short of the goal line as time expired.
Midland Trail put itself in good position for a win in the first half, scoring three times — twice off Independence miscues — and taking a 21-7 lead into the locker room. The first tally — a 22-yard burst by Ryan Wilson — was set up when teammate Burdette recovered a fumble on an Independence punt attempt. Next, Wilson pounced on a blocked punt by Burdette that wound up in the end zone, making it 14-0 as the second quarter approached.
After Independence’s Ward raced to paydirt on a 35-yard run, and Robert Cuthbert’s PAT kick pulled the visitors to within 14-7, Wilson added his third six-pointer — a 6-yard run — with 1:41 to go in the half.
Wilson gained 88 yards and scored twice on 15 carries for Midland Trail.
Midland Trail will host rival Fayetteville the same night.
Independence 28, M. Trail 21
Independence (1-0)0 7 13 8 —28
M. Trail (0-1) 14 7 0 0 — 21
MT: Ryan Wilson 22 run (Wilson kick), 7-0, 5:38
MT: Wilson recovered blocked punt in end zone (Wilson kick), 14-0, 3:12
I: Colton Ward 35 run (Robert Cuthbert kick), 14-7, 9:08
MT: Wilson 6 run (Wilson kick) 21-7, 1:41
I: Brandon Treadway 14 run (Cuthbert kick), 21-14, 9:13
I: Chance Rhodes 4 run (run failed), 21-20, 1:59
I: Brian Sexton 1 run (Ward run), 28-21, 2:47
RUSHING — I:Ward 14-112-1, Sexton 5-(minus-3)-1, Dustin Justice 14-66, Chase Mills 5-14, Treadway 9-47-1, Rhodes 7-52-1. MT: Wilson 15-88-2, Austin Burdette 7-36, Collin Carte 2-(minus-12), Glen Neal 6-11.
PASSING — I: Sexton 2-4-0-37-0. MT: Carte 2-6-0-3-0, Neal 0-1-0-0-0, Wilson 1-1-0-14-0.
RECEIVING — I: Justice 1-20, Bill Sargent 1-17. MT: Burdette 2-3, Carte 1-14.
TURNOVERS — I: None. MT: Burdette (2 fum rec, blocked punt).
Oak Hill 48
All-state running back Jalen Jones kicked off his senior season by scoring four touchdowns and rushing for 186 yards on just 13 carries to power the Red Devils past home-standing Elkins 48-14.
Elkins started the game with a bang as Morgan Kelly raced 91 yards for a touchdown on the first play to make it 6-0.
Oak Hill responded with 21 straight first-quarter points on touchdown runs of 51 and 1 yards by Jones and a 43-yard punt return by Jones for a touchdown.
The Red Devils kept the pressure up with 27 more points over the next two quarters to put the game out of reach. Jarrell Green opened the second quarter with a 10-yard TD run, followed by another Jones 51-yard run for a 34-6 halftime lead.
K.K. Goodman added touchdown runs of 4 and 15 yards in the third quarter before Elkins scored late in the fourth.
Oak Hill (1-0) has another long road trip Friday as it travels to Berkeley County to face the Musselman Applemen.
Oak Hill 48, Elkins 14
Oak Hill (1-0) 21 13 14 0 — 48
Elkins (0-1) 6 0 0 8 — 14
E: Morgan Kelly 91 run (run fail)
OH: Jalen Jones 51 run (Jones kick)
OH: Jones 43 punt return (Jones kick)
OH: Jones 1 run (Jones kick)
OH: Jarrell Green 10 run (Jones kick)
OH: Jones 51 run (kick failed)
OH: K.K. Goodman 4 run (Jones kick)
OH: Goodman 15 run (Jones kick)
E: Alexander Taylor 35 run (John Huffman run)
RUSHING — OH: Jones 13-186-3, Goodman 12-79, Green 3-10, Deonte Scruggs 1-5, Antonio Gray 2 (-3), Antwon Smith 1-6, Tyler Painter 1-5, Derek Futler 4 (-3), Noah Miller 1 (-11).
PASSING — OH: Scruggs 4-6-44.
RECEIVING — OH: Marc Logan 2-30, Goodman 1-12, Jones 1-2.
TURNOVERS — OH: Gray (fum rec).
TURNOVERS — R: Frame (fum. rec.). WC: Logan Taylor (int.).
Meadow Bridge 56 Van 20
The Jake Parker express picked up right where it left off last season as the Wildcats rode the play of Parker to a convincing 56-20 win over visiting Van.
Parker set the tone early with three touchdown runs in the first quarter (67, 8, 24) to stake Meadow Bridge to a 22-0 lead.
Craig Peters kept the scoring going on a 12-yard run in the second quarter for a 28-6 lead at the half.
Parker struck again in the third quarter on a 2-yard run and twice in the fourth quarter from 49 yards and 28 yards. Abber Gelsinger closed out the Wildcats’ scoring with a 16-yard run for the final margin.
Parker finished the night with a career-high 447 yards rushing and also had 12 tackles on the defensive side of the ball.
Meadow Bridge (1-0) plays at Tug Valley Friday.
Meadow Bridge 56, Van 20
V (0-1) 0 6 8 6 — 20
MB (1-0) 22 6 8 20 — 56
MB: Jake Parker 67 run (rush failed)
MB: Parker 8 run (Abber Gelsinger run)
MB: Parker 24 run (Gelsinger run)
MB: Craig Peters 12 run (rush failed)
V: Brandon Elswick 3 run (pass failed)
MB: Parker 2 run (Gelsinger run)
V: Elswick 59 run (Elswick to Zach Pridemore pass)
MB: Parker 49 run (rush failed)
V: Logan Crouse 63 pass from Elswick (rush failed)
MB: Parker 28 run (Gelsinger run)
MB: Gelsinger 16 run (run failed)
RUSHING — V: Crouse 15-107, Elswick 15-94, Cole Price 2-16. MB: Parker 32-447, Peters 5-69, Gelsinger 2-21, Shane Harless 2-17, Ryan Church 4-11, Lawson Patterson 1-4.
PASSING — V: Elswick 5-11-116-1, Price 0-2-0. MB: Church 0-1.
RECEIVING — V: Crouse 3-94, Justin Lambert 2-22.
TURNOVERS — V: Jaime Beclcher (fum rec); MB: Kaleb Farr (fum rec).