Central Wins Thriller Behind McGhee TD
Late score lifts Knights past Magnolia, 29-27
WHEELING–This season has been a learning experience for the young Wheeling Central football team, but head coach Mike Young saw his youthful squad grow up before his own eyes under the lights Friday night.
The Maroon Knights led the entire game but with 1:44 remaining in the contest, Magnolia’s James Stillwagoner scampered in from 5 yards out to give the Blue Eagles the late edge.
It was then time for sophomore quarterback Curtis McGhee III and the Knights to make their mark. The drive looked like it was about to stall as the Knights were faced with fourth-and-6.
McGhee took the snap, looked for a receiver and launched a pass downfield for the 6-foot-4 Anthony Robbins, who escaped great coverage and made the catch at the 7-yard line. Moments later, McGhee took a quarterback keeper 7 yards for the game-winning touchdown, to give Wheeling Central the 29-27 win over Magnolia at Bishop Schmitt Field.
“This is a great win for these kids,” Young said. “I really think that this was a maturation type of situation where these kids came in believing they can make things happen and they never quit. We have some green kids here but it was their turn to make their name and they did.
“I want to call it an over the hump night. It was Homecoming week and to be able to pull that out the way we did, through a lot of adversity. I am so happy for them.”
The game-winning drive took 1:01 off the clock and went 68 yards but Robbins’ reception was for 34 of them.
“We just called all-go,” McGhee said. “Everyone was covered and Anthony is a big dude. I threw it up and gave him a chance to make a play and he made a great play.
“There was no way I was letting anyone keep me from getting in the end zone. I was getting in no matter what.”
McGhee finished with 103 yards rushing and two scores, while throwing for 170 yards and two more touchdowns.
Magnolia didn’t quit either. Despite trailing the entire game, Eagles quarterback Pat Mirandy led a scoring drive that ate up 5:39 of the clock, 65 yards and resulted in a 27-23 advantage.
“They executed everything that was called,” Magnolia coach Dave Chapman said. “It was a great job by Mirandy. The receivers were running their routes and the line was blocking. It was all there for us but we just didn’t finish.”
Mirandy paced the Blue Eagles offense with 205 yards passing, while Brooks Parsons hauled in 10 passes for 161 yards.
Both teams entered the contest with two losses on the season, making it seem like a must win for both squads.
“They’re all must wins as far as we are concerned,” Young said. “I say that because we are going out there to learn a little more and get a little better, so each game is a challenge for us. I’ll match our schedule with anybody in the valley as far as challenging goes.
“This was a heckuva night. I told our kids that in all my years of coaching, this will go down as one of the most fantastic finishes of all time. It’s because of how they played. They never quit and that was the key factor to all of it.”
Wheeling Central jumped on the board first when McGhee delivered a quick screen pass to the sideline for Bray Price. The speedster caught it and was off to the races for an 82-yard touchdown.
Magnolia quickly answered as Parsons returned the kickoff to the 50 and followed that up with a 30-yard run to the 20. Hunter Partridge finished the job with a 1-yard score to cut the deficit to 7-6.
The Maroon Knights added 10 points in the second quarter on a 25-yard field goal by Jack Stryker and a 28-yard touchdown pass from McGhee to Robbins to create a 17-6 cushion at the half.
Both teams opened the second half with scoring drives as Magnolia garnered a 58-yard scoring drive culminating with a 35-yard touchdown pass from Mirandy to Parsons. Central answered with a 71-yard drive, sparked by a 56-yard run by Price down the sideline and finished with a 6-yard touchdown by McGhee to make it a 23-14 count.
The Blue Eagles delivered another touchdown in the third on a fourth-and-eight at the 10-yard line. Mirandy rolled out to his right and fired the ball across his body to a wide-open Leo Herrick in the end zone for six.
Both defenses held up until the final two scoring drives of the game.
Adam Murray led the Central defense with 15 tackles and an interception, adding to his impressive sophomore season.
“I can’t say enough about Murray,” Young said. “He is one of the best I have ever coached and he is probably going to make me stay in coaching a little longer.”
Dawson Wear collected a sack for the Knights and Stillwagoner gathered a sack for the Blue Eagles.
“We just didn’t finish,” Chapman said. “We scored with 1:44 to go but we will have to just look at film, pick up and move on. That is a gut-wrencher.”