Record Day for Wheeling Park

Patriots put up 695 yards in victory vs. Cambridge

Wheeling Park quarterback Cross Wilkinson (11) prepares to throw as Cambridge’s Connor Leppla (10) closes in during Friday’s game at Wheeling Island Stadium. Photo by Alex Kozlowski

WHEELING — Cambridge came in Friday night with a plan of blitzing Wheeling Park on what seemed like nearly every down. With the type of weapons the Patriots feature on offense, they only need a crease and it’s lights-out.

Donnie Evans ran for 272 yards and three touchdowns and Wheeling Park (3-2) set a school record with 695 yards of offense in a 55-34 victory against the Bobcats at Wheeling Island Stadium.

The Patriots at one point scored on five straight drives and of their eight touchdowns, the shortest distance was 26 yards. Evans found the end zone on runs of 80, 63 and 81 yards.

”You can’t key on (Evans), you can’t key on (Cross Wilkinson),” Cambridge coach Kevin Gunn said. ”They’ve got so many weapons.”

Quarterback Cross Wilkinson had his first pass intercepted, but went on to complete 16 of 27 for 266 yards and three touchdowns. All told, the teams combined for 1,141 yards of offense.

”I’d like to think we executed and did some good things, but the style of defense they played, too …,” Park coach Chris Daugherty said. ”I liked what Kevin did. They gambled some and they came and took their shots.

”They hit some home runs, but we did too. They said, ‘hey, if you beat us, we’re at least going to come.’ ”

Evans got things started with an 80-yard score on his first touch, but the Bobcats responded with a 37-yard TD run from quarterback Cooper Kerns. He then hit Connor Leppla on a 23-yard touchdown strike to give Cambridge a 14-7 lead.

But Park exploded for 28 points in the second quarter. Evans got loose from 63 before the Bobcats went back ahead on a Kerns-to-Logan Tuttle pass that covered 3 yards.

The fun was just beginning.

The Patriots scored three times in the final 6:52 of the half. Wilkinson hit Jack Stakem (five catches, 94 yards) from 57, and Rennie Clark scored twice — once on a 41-yard run and again on a 26-yard pass completion.

”We have had to grind since Day 1 with our inexperience and our kids are learning on the run,” Gunn said. ”I think the development we have seen the last three weeks since the first snap against Indian Creek … we have seen a lot of improvement.”

Tuttle got loose on a 43-yard run to the Park 11 with 34.3 seconds left in the half. He was appeared to be going in for a touchdown, but linebacker Jermain Snodgrass ran Tuttle down. On the next play, a bad snap resulted in a 25-yard loss and the threat was over, allowing the Patriots to go into halftime with a 35-21 lead.

”I thought the big play was our linebacker not giving up and letting him run for a touchdown,” Daugherty said. ”We came in at halftime and that’s what we talked about … ‘Jermain Snodgrass busts tail when I have seen a lot of other guys just let him go in.’

”He runs them down and they get a bad snap and we keep them out of the end zone.”

Gunn wishes he could say the same about Evans.

On Wheeling Park’s first snap of the second half, Evans broke off an 81-yard touchdown run to up the margin to 42-21. A little less than 10 minutes later Wilkinson found Phillips, who in the first half made an incredible one-handed interception before falling out of bounds, on a crossing route. Phillips made his way to the sideline before spinning past three defenders at the goal line for a 43-yard strike.

”He’s just a football player,” Daugherty said of Phillips, who caught five passes for 91 yards. ”As smart as Cross is as a quarterback, Nate is that smart as a wide receiver.

”Nate’s not slow, but he makes so many plays because he sees what is happening and is able to diagnose stuff and jump it.”

Cambridge continued to fight with back-to-back scores to start the fourth quarter. Kerns, who finished 20 of 31 for 319 yards and four touchdowns against two interceptions, hit Leppla (three catches, 81 yards and two TDs) with a 26-yard scoring pass and then found Trent Valentine (seven catches, 187 yards) on a 78-yard score.

”We played a very talented, athletic and great-coached team,” Gunn said. ”I was very proud of the way the kids responded.

”We played a very good first half and then they made some plays and it was an uphill battle.

”(Kerns) has done a very good job learning and developing every week.”

The Patriots closed it out when Clark busted loose for a 68-yard touchdown run to finish off a seven-carry, 137-yard effort. Park ran 29 times for what is believed to be a school-record 429 yards, averaging 14.8 yards a carry.

”Cross is smart and you can see a comfort level with the two-back system and he understands what we’re trying to do,” Daugherty said. ”He is able to get us in the right play but also at the same time, execute it.

”Almost every week we’ve gotten a little bit better.”

Wheeling Park 55, Cambridge 34

Cambridge 14 7 0 13 — 34

Wheeling Park 7 28 13 7 — 55

W — Evans 80 run (Glass kick), 6:36

C — Kerns 37 run (Hannon kick), 4:41

C — Leppla 23 pass from Kerns (Hannon kick), 2:17

W — Evans 63 run (Glass kick), 11:32

C — Tuttle 3 pass from Kerns (Hannon kick), 8:06

W — Stakem 57 pass from Wilkinson (Glass kick), 6:52

W — Clark 41 run (Glass kick), 2:23

W — Clark 26 pass from Wilkinson (Glass kick), 40.4

W — Evans 81 run (Glass kick), 11:37

W — Phillips 43 pass from Wilkinson (kick blocked), 1:45

C — Leppla 26 pass from Kerns (kick blocked), 11:54

C — T.Valentine 78 pass from Kerns (Kirby kick), 7:48

W — Clark 68 run (Glass kick), 7:01

Rushing: Cambridge 31-95-td (Tuttle 10-61, Kerns 11-37-td, Long 3-18, Payton 1-4, T.Valentine 1-2, Yerian 1-1, White 3-(-3), Team 1-(-25). Wheeling Park 29-429-5td (Evans 15-272-3td, Clark 7-137-2td, Bradley 5-14, Wilkinson 1-4, Dunlevy 1-2).

Passing: Cambridge 21-32-351-4td-2x (Kerns (20-31-319-4td-2x, Moore 1-1-32). Wheeling Park 16-28-266-3td-x (Wilkinson 16-27-266-3td-x, Dunlevy 0-1).

Receiving: Cambridge 21-351-4td (T.Valentine 7-187-td, Leppla 3-81-2td, Tuttle 3-40-td, A.Valentine 5-31, Maharyri 2-6, Yerian 1-12, Long 1-(-4). Wheeling Park 16-266-3td (Stakem 5-94-td, Phillips 5-91-td, Reed 3-37, Clark 2-23-td, Tucker 1-21).

First Downs: Cambridge 18, Wheeling Park 20.

Penalties: Cambridge 9-55, Wheeling Park 9-100.

Fumbles: Cambridge 2-1, Wheeling Park 0-0.