Football: Central Rolls to Victory, 34-15

WHEELING – A bus carrying the Westinghouse cheerleaders and a handful of fans broke down twice on the way to Wheeling Island Stadium on Friday night.

By the time they made it – after the team charter went and picked them up – there was 8:10 left in the third quarter, the Bulldogs were down 28-6, and most of the need for the pep was over.

Behind 164 yards and three rushing touchdowns from quarterback Parker Henry, Wheeling Central rolled to a 34-15 victory with the Maroon Knights starting to look very much like the Maroon Knights.

Well almost.

”We’re getting close,” Wheeling Central coach Mike Young said. ”We’re not there. I would never settle for saying we are because we’re not. We made some careless mistakes that we’ve got to correct. That’s why you practice.”

It looked like both teams needed a bunch of it after a first quarter in which Wheeling Central lost two fumbles and had five penalties for 43 yards. Westinghouse had a pass intercepted. And both teams had a touchdown called back.

Frankly, the folks sitting helplessly on the bus didn’t miss much at that point.

”Mistakes,” Westinghouse coach Monte Robinson said. ”Penalties. Bad tackling got us (Friday). You can’t beat a team like that with that many mistakes.”

In the end, Westinghouse turned it over six times – three on interceptions and three on fumbles – and surrendered 440 yards, including touchdown runs of 18, 15, and 47 yards to Henry and a 57-yarder to C.J. Burch, who had 69 yards on nine carries.

Add in a John Buckhalter 26-yard touchdown pass with 27 seconds left to go in the first half and the Bulldogs trailed 35-6 with 14 minutes left in the game.

”It was definitely tough when we got behind because we have a lot of young guys,” Robinson said. ”When you have young guys, they get down and hit the panic button. That was our struggle. But I felt like we fought after the first half. Second half we showed some fight.”

They landed a few blows behind senior running back Rapheal Drummond, who ripped off touchdown runs of 55 and 59 yards on his way to a 22-carry, 247-yard night. Throw in the 82 yards and four touchdowns and a converted linebacker who has started two games at running back in his career has 329 yards and six touchdowns on the season – both against OVAC foes.

”I’ll tell you what, speed kills,” Robinson said of Drummond, the 100-yard dash winner in the Pittsburgh city league last year.

Local football fans haven’t seen a Drummond run like this kid since Eddie was doing it for Linsly a decade and a half ago.

”We knew we were in for a challenge as far as an athleticism and their speed,” Young said. ”You don’t put 40 points on the board against an OVAC team unless you have something.”

The halftime score was 21-0 after Buckhalter’s touchdown grab, but Wheeling Central came within an eyelash of making it 28-0 in that half-minute.

Lineman Bubba Slyder picked off a batted pass at the 32-yard line on the next offensive play. Then, with time ticking away, Henry hit Joey John on a pass play that he caught at the 1 but was hit out of bounds prior to crossing the plane as the clock hit zeros.

John finished with 58 rushing yards and 47 receiving yards.