ONA — When the playoffs conclude in three weeks at Wheeling Island Stadium, there will be a new state champion crowned in Class AAA.
Cabell Midland used a punishing run game to eliminate defending champion South Charleston 49-12 Friday night at home in a first-round game.
The Knights, the No. 5 seed, advance to play No. 4 University in the quarterfinals. Cabell Midland (10-1) will travel to the Hawks next weekend with the date and time to be determined. SC ends its season at 5-6.
“Anytime you win in the playoffs, it’s good,” Midland coach Luke Salmons said. “This win was great, and I’m proud of our kids. We’ve got a good team, and this is a special group. They are ready to play the next one.”
Midland dominated on the ground, running for 282 yards in the first half on its way to 473 yards rushing. The Knights had four different players run for at least 50 yards.
“The run game was awesome,” Salmons said. “That’s who Midland is. We’ve got some good linemen and running backs. We’ve got a good program. The kids have been working hard in the program. We just plug them in, and they are ready to play. They have worked hard for this opportunity.”
Chandler Schmidt led the way for Midland with 191 yards on nine carries and two touchdowns. Mason Moran added 135 yards on nine attempts, and Jackson Fetty ran for 50 yards.
Knights quarterback Ryan Wolfe made his mark on the potent Knights offense, totaling four touchdowns. The junior ran for three first half TDs, had 75 yards rushing and also threw an 8-yard touchdown pass in the second half.
“It was great to score that many touchdowns, but it doesn’t really matter to me,” Wolfe said. “I just want to win. I couldn’t score without my team. We are tough, strong minded and have a great program.
“He runs good,” Salmons said of Wolfe. “He’s a threat. Not a lot of people know about him, but he can run and throw. He’s a special player.”
On its first offensive possession, SC appeared to have a 37-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Trey Dunn to Wayne Harris on third down, but it was ruled incomplete. The Black Eagles turned the ball over on downs on the following play.
Midland struck first on its next offensive possession, driving 64 yards, capped off by a Wolfe 17-yard touchdown run. He added his second 17-yard TD scamper later in the first quarter for a 14-0 Knights lead.
SC was able to respond, driving 50 yards for a touchdown to cut the Midland lead to 14-6. Dunn hooked up with Harris for a 21-yard touchdown pass with 45 seconds left in the opening quarter.
The Knights responded themselves, driving right down the field on the SC defense. Wolfe added his third touchdown run of the game on a 1-yard sneak in the second quarter to once again give Midland a two-score lead.
Looking for a touchdown to force a one-possession game, SC drove all the way to the Knights’ 7-yard line. However, a fourth-and-4 pass fell incomplete for the Black Eagles, giving the ball back to Midland.
On the very next play, Moran ran 93 yards for a touchdown for a huge turnaround in the game, opening things up for the Knights at 28-6 with 1:52 left before halftime.
“That was a big turning point,” Salmons said. “Moran made a good run, and any time you can get seven points before the end of the half and keep them from getting seven, it was huge.”
Midland put the game away in the third quarter, scoring two touchdowns. Schmidt had both scores on the ground, bursts of 74 and 37 yards, for a 42-6 advantage.
In the fourth quarter, Wolfe accounted for his fourth touchdown, an 8-yard TD pass to Michael Lunsford. SC finished the scoring on a 20-yard pass from Dunn to Harris.
Dunn totaled 250 yards of total offense for the Black Eagles, throwing for 177 yards and running for 73 yards. Harris hauled in seven passes for 124 yards. Running back Mondrell Dean didn’t play the second half.
“The seniors were a special group, and I hate that this is the end for them,” SC coach Donnie Mays said. “We came out strong, and I thought we had the touchdown. We executed the game plan. Then it was a war of attrition, and we don’t have the depth.”
South Charleston 6 0 0 6—12
Midland 14 14 14 7—49
CM — Wolfe 17 run (Charles kick), 6:17
CM — Wolfe 17 run (Charles kick), 3:13
SC — Harris 21 pass from Dunn (kick failed), 45.1
CM — Wolfe 1 run (Charles kick), 6:58
CM — Moran 93 run (Charles kick), 1:52
CM — Schmidt 74 run (Charles kick), 7:53
CM — Schmidt 37 run (Charles kick), 3:15
CM — Lunsford 8 pass from Wolfe (Charles kick), 6:54
SC — Harris 20 pass from Dunn (pass failed), 2:01
First downs 15 19
Rushes-yards 27-78 40-473
Passing yards 177 43
Passing 11-24-0 2-6-0
Total yards 255 516
Fumbles-lost 1-0 0-0
Penalties-yards 10-60 10-112
Punts-average 2-40.5 0-0
RUSHING — SC: Dunn 12-73, Dean 6-18, Miler 7-9. Midland: Schmidt 9-191, Moran 9-135, Wolfe 7-75, Fetty 10-50.
PASSING — SC: Dunn 11-24-0, 177. Midland: Wolfe 2-6-0, 43.
RECEIVING — SC: Harris 7-124, McCorkle 3-33, Pannell 1-20. Midland: Smith 1-35, Lunsford 1-8.