HUNTINGTON — When two rivals and state-title contenders meet in the first week of the West Virginia high school football season, there really is no telling what might happen.
Spring Valley and Cabell Midland showed a little of the good and bad things about getting back into the rhythm of the regular season in the opener for both teams, but it was the Knights’ big-play ability that led them to a 28-19 season-opening win Friday night on the road.
Each team sustained long drives in the opening quarter, but couldn’t put points on the board. The Knights’ Jackson Fetty spearheaded a 12-play, 56-yard drive to begin the game, but then was stopped short on fourth down just inside the five-yard line, giving the ball back to the Timberwolves.
Spring Valley struggled themselves, driving into the redzone twice in four first-half drives, but turned the ball over on downs each time.
But after that scoreless first quarter, the two teams tallied three touchdowns in the second frame before Cabell Midland went into the locker rooms with a 14-7 lead.
A long drive, similar to the initial drive of the game for the Knights, ended in a 4-yard touchdown run by Fetty for the first points of the season and game.
On the first play after the ensuing kickoff, Spring Valley’s Jace Caldwell tied the game with a 69-yard touchdown run of his own, breaking a tackle at the line of scrimmage and scampering to find the edge before sprinting along the sideline to the endzone.
That didn’t sit well with the Knights, seeing as Mason Moran decided to show off his speed on the first play of Cabell Midland’s next drive, taking it 63 yards for the go-ahead score.
Moran carried the ball just four times in the first half, but tallied 140 yards and a touchdown after a 72-yard gain earlier in the quarter. Fetty led the team in rushing, carrying the ball 30 times for 141 yards and two touchdowns.
“When we started running the option … big plays were there. We would go to pitch and they wouldn’t have the pitch-man covered, but I think we can get a lot better,” Cabell Midland coach Luke Salmons said, praising his offensive line in the same breath for leading the way.
In the second half, it was more chunk plays for the Knights and mental errors from the Timberwolves that wrote the rest of the story.
Dalton Fouch had an impressive debut at quarterback for the Timberwolves, hitting receivers in good spots, staying cool under pressure and making timely plays, including a 23-yard scramble for a touchdown to bring the home team within a point of Cabell Midland, 14-13.
A botched snap on the ensuing extra-point try kept Spring Valley from tying the game, and then a long kickoff return set Cabell Midland up on the plus-side of the field. Ryan Wolfe ended the responding drive in one play, dashing 47 yards to paydirt.
It was the second time the Knights cashed in on a big play because of the triple-option offense. Those kind of mistakes, coach Brad Dingess said, were too much to overcome.
“I thought we did a lot of good things, but when you play a team like that, you can’t make as many mistakes as we did,” Dingess said.
CM 0 14 14 0 — 28
SV 0 7 6 6 — 19
CM — Fetty 4 rush (Charles kick good)
SV — Cladwell 72 rush (Mosser kick good)
CM — Moran 63 rush (Charles kick good)
SV — Fouch 23 rush (PAT failed)
CM — Wolfe 47 rush (Charles kick good)
CM — Fetty 5 rush (Charles kick good)
SV — Caldwell 1 rush (Mosser kick blocked)
RUSHING: (CM) Fetty 30-141, 2 TD, Moran 4-140, TD, Wolfe 7-66, TD, Schmidt 7-30; (SV) Caldwell 11-101, 2 TD, Fouh 12-32, TD.
PASSING: (SV) Dalton Fouch 12-of-25, 148 yards.
RECEIVING: (SV) Turner 2-59, Bartrum 3-48, Page 4-45, Caldwell 2-2.