RICHMOND - Things started well for the Edison football team Friday as it played host to Wheeling Central. The early success did not continue throughout the game though, as the Maroon Knights exploded for all their points in the middle quarters en route to a 32-20 victory.
''I think there was a little stretch starting in the second quarter and going a little into the third they started catching seams and we were just a little slower than we were in that first quarter,'' Edison coach Mike McKenzie said.
Wheeling Central coach Mike Young was happy with his team's overall performance in the victory.
''Our kids rose to the occasion,'' he said. ''Thirty-two-20 is not indicative of how well we played and sometimes how poorly we played, too. We had some breakdowns in the first half.
''We corrected some of those in the second half and pretty much dominated the half.''
Edison took a lead late in the first quarter after Willis Long returned a Wheeling Central punt 31 yards to the Maroon Knights 17. Three plays later Shane O'Brien ran in from 7 yards. The conversion pass failed and the lead was 6-0.
After the teams exchanged turnovers, Wheeling Central took the opportunity to tie the game early in the second quarter.
The Maroon Knights travelled 45 yards on five plays with the help of an offsides penalty. Quarterback Parker Henry had a 10-yard carry, fullback Erik Gompers had a 19-yard tote, and tailback Gino Bianconi did the honors for the score from 1-yard out. The snap on the PAT was not a good one, leaving the score tied.
Four minutes later, Wheeling Central took the lead on a broken play. It looked as though Edison had sniffed out a receiver screen to the left. Running back Christopher Burch snuck to the middle of the field where Henry tossed him the ball. Burch turned and sped 51 yards to paydirt.
''We were actually in the wrong formation but Burch knew where to run and how to go get it and those kids did a good job of adapting,'' Young said. ''That's something we've done this year. We did it last week and hopefully we continue to make something out of nothing or break big plays.''
Wheeling Central made a statement to the first half. Taking the ball with 5:07 left, the Maroon Knights called 10 straight running plays and punched in the score with 17 seconds left. Henry was the workhorse on the drive, carrying the ball five times for 35 yards and Bianconi punched in his second score of the half from 6 yards out. The point after sailed wide left but the Maroon Knights took a 19-6 lead into the locker room.
After forcing a Edison three-and-out to start the second half Wheeling Central proceeded to go 43 yards in six plays. Andrew Keane had carries of 18 and 17 yards to begin the drive and Henry hit Ian Yahnke for a 19-yard completion to set up Bianconi's third scoring plunge from 1-yard out. The scoreboard read 25-6 after the missed extra point.
The Wildcats attempted to rally when on the second play of the ensuing drive Mark Smyth hit Kyle Minger for a 75-yard touchdown pass. The conversion pass fell incomplete and the score was 25-12 Wheeling Central.
The Wildcats' defense then forced a three-and-out and it looked like things were rolling their way. A fumble on the punt return gave Wheeling Central the ball back and it proceeded to put the nail in the coffin.
Three plays after the fumble, Henry rolled out to the left and hit Yahnke for a 47-yard score to make it 32-12.
''They caught us with a couple of them,'' McKenzie said. ''The last touchdown was a play-action. I don't know that it surprised me. We talked that they would be able to throw some.''
Henry played outstanding for the Maroon Knights, completing 3 of 6 passes for 117 yards and two scores while adding 15 carries for 85 yards.
Edison added a score with 8 seconds left in the game when Brian Straka hit Rich Springer from 13 yards out for the score. Nolan Marcus ran in the conversion to make the final score 32-20.
The Wildcats were led offensively by Smyth who went 6-for-18 accumulating 119 yards. He had a touchdown and an interception. Kyle Minger had two grabs for 87 yards and a score.
The running game of the Maroon Knights was dominant as they ran the ball 52 times for 219 yards and three scores.