MORGANTOWN - John Bowers thought his Morgantown team was done.
Chazzy Thomas had other ideas.
The state's leading rusher burst through the slimmest of holes, and with Wheeling Park defenders draped on his left and right, tumbled into the end zone to give the Mohigans a 41-38 overtime victory Friday night at Pony Lewis Field.
Wheeling Park’s Savion Johnson (21) picks up a block from Henry Gompers (64) during action of their game Friday night at Pony Lewis Field.
Ron Rittenhouse/Dominion Post
The touchdown, his sixth of the games and his 31st of the season, capped a fourth-quarter comeback that saw the Mohigans overcome a 35-19 fourth-quarter deficit.
Thomas finished with 43 carries for 396 yards, a new county record.
"I never thought we were going to lose," Thomas said. "Even down by that many, against a good team, I thought we could come back and win."
Bowers was not as confident.
"I thought we were done, just by our kids' body language," Bowers said. "I'll tell you what. We didn't block anybody in the second and third quarters.Wheeling Park was coming off blocks and ripping Chazzy. But No. 6 (Thomas) willed us to victory. He absolutely did. The kids saw his fight, and all of a sudden, we came to life.
"To see our kids fight back like they did, after it looked like they cashed it in, this is the most gratifying win I've been a part of."
The loss was a tough one for No. 3 Park, which, halfway through the fourth quarter, appeared to be on the verge of an emphatic statement victory.
Instead, Thomas' sixth touchdown, his final 12 yards on a record-setting night, ended in the Patriots' first loss.
"Our kids battled so hard," Park coach Chris Daugherty said. "(Thomas) is a player. He showed it. I thought played pretty well on defense. But he is a gamebreaker and you have to keep him bottled up."
Park (5-1) did that for the most part.
Yet Thomas was able to break free on his trademark runs too many times.
He had touchdown runs of 70 and 87 yards and a TD reception of 41 yards (his first catch of the season) to steak Morgantown (6-1) to a 19-7 lead.
It was the last touchdown he will remember.
"Of all the touchdown runs I've had, that was my best," the worn out leading contender for the Kennedy Award said. "The 99 yarder (earlier in the year), any of them, that was my best. It was my most emotional run. I saw the hole briefly, then I think there was an inside linebacker coming down on me and I just told myself that I had to get in the end zone."
His score followed a 31-yard field goal by Park's Liam Casey, which gave the Patriots a 38-35 lead after their possession in the overtime.
"I thought our defense played well enough that if we put three on the board, it might get (Morgantown) a little shook up," Daugherty said.
In a back-and-forth game, befitting two of the state's premier Class AAA teams, Park stormed back from a 19-7 deficit in the second quarter on the arm of senior quarterback Zach Phillips (16 of 30 for 281 yards) who threw touchdowns to Josh Angalich (8 yards) and Theo Blackston (23 yards) with 53 second remaining in the half to give the Patriots a 21-19 lead at the half.
The Patriots went right to work, building the lead with Savion Johnson scoring his second touchdown after Phillips and Chalmer Moffett hooked up on passes of 26 and 50 yards on Park's first possession of the second half.
The lead went to 35-19 when Geremy Paige scored on an 11-yard run, his only carry of the night, with 3:22 remaining in the third.
Morgantown battled back, with Thomas carrying the load.
He scored with 4:53 left and Stone Wolfley caught a conversion pass from Ethan Goldcamp to cut the lead in half.
After holding Park and forcing a punt, the Mohigans went back to Thomas exclusively and, with 13 seconds left, he scored his fifth touchdown. Again, Wolfley, the son of former Mountaineer Dale Wolfley, caught the game-tying conversion on a fade route, to tie it at 35.
"Did we maybe get too conservative?" Daugherty said. "Maybe. But that's football. If you get a first down there, if you can kill the clock, you look like a genius. They are a good football team. I'm proud of these kids. I'm proud of Park. Who knows? We might see them again. I'm not so sure they'd want to play us again and honestly, I'm not too sure we'd want to play them. But we would like the opportunity down the road."