Wheeling Central Comes Up Short at East Hardy, 10-7

BAKER — It wasn’t the offensive output East Hardy coach Chad Williams is used to seeing. It definitely wasn’t pretty. But the final score read 10-7 on Friday night in favor of the Cougars and he will gladly take a victory against Wheeling Central any way he can get it.

“That was what I expected,” Williams said. “Man, they are really good up front. We had a lot of trouble running the ball and they had a real good plan of how to handle our receivers. I don’t think anyone has held (all-state receiver Brett) Tharp down the way they did.

“I’m just really proud of the way we turned it up on defense and on offense at the end when we needed to kill the clock, we were finally able to.”

Wheeling Central dropped to an uncharacteristic 0-2 and its tough schedule doesn’t get any easier with Williamstown coming to Bishop Schmitt Field next week.

If the Maroon Knights hope to get their season turned around, they will have to do a better job offensively.

Wheeling Central was held to 143 yards for the game. When the Maroon Knights went into the locker room at halftime, they had 34 and one first down, not to mention a 10-0 deficit.

“We were a little bit hesitant at times and we were missing some blocks,” Wheeling Central coach Mike Young said. “Field position caused us to be a little bit confused. Everything we did, we can correct. Everything we didn’t do, we can correct. It is our job as coaches to make the corrections.”

East Hardy (3-0) got on the scoreboard first as Clay Skovron completed a fourth-down pass to Chance Dove, who broke two tackles and got into the end zone from 17 yards out at the 4:23 mark of the first quarter.

Nick Miller tacked on a 30-yard field as time expired in the second quarter to put the Cougars up two scores. It was a kick that turned out to be the deciding points.

Wheeling Central received the ball to open the second half and looked much better offensively, topping its yardage total of the first half with 56-yard drive to the East Hardy 1 and eating up almost 7 minutes of clock.

On fourth down, though, a bad snap forced Wheeling Central quarterback Curtis McGhee III to gather the ball at the 15. McGhee crossed fields and outran the East Hardy defense into the end zone.

Instead of the Maroon Knights’ first points, the play was called back for a hitting a defenseless player. An unsportsmanlike conduct penalty pushed the team back 15 more yards and instead of being on the doorstep of a touchdown, Wheeling Central had to punt it away.

“It shot us down for a while momentum-wise, and that happens,” Young said. “I tell the kids that there are some things we can’t control. We had to suck it up and move forward. I’m not going to ever say a call cost us a game. That was a difficult call for the official to make because it took away a touchdown from us.”

If anything, it showed Wheeling Central could move the ball on the Cougars and in the fourth quarter, the Knights finally broke through.

McGhee completed a fourth-down pass to Bray Price to the East Hardy 5. Price scored on the next play to cut into the Cougars lead.

East Hardy went three-and-out and Wheeling Central got the ball back at its 34 with a chance to tie or take the lead with 5:09 to go.

The East Hardy defense stood tall. After a penalty pushed the Knights back to start the drive, they found themselves in a fourth-and-6. McGhee’s pass was caught by Price past the first-down marker, but he was out of bounds.

East Hardy was able to run out the final 3:09.

“That was about as good of a defense as I have ever seen an East Hardy team play,” Williams said. “Our (offensive line) hung in there. We weren’t able to push them around like we wanted to, but we were able to run in the key situations when we needed to.”

For Young, it is back to the drawing board as they try to get that elusive victory No. 1.

“Bad snaps hurt us, penalties hurt us, effort didn’t hurt us,” he said. “We played a good football team and we took away some of the things they do best. We have to continue to get better. We have Williamstown next week and that is where we have to be thinking. We will have a nice long bus ride back to think about that. Hats off to East Hardy. They played well and we hope we see them again later in the year.”

East Hardy 10, Wheeling Central 7

Wheeling Central 0 0 0 7 — 7

East Hardy 7 3 0 0 — 10

E — Dove 17 pass from Skovron (Skovron kick)

E — Miller 30 FG

W — Price 5 run (Stryker kick)

Rushing: Wheeling Central 38-88-td (Wear 9-47, Price 12-32-td, Kahle 2-22, Mangino 5-7, McGhee 10-(-20). East Hardy 34-88 (Skovron 20-50, Mullin 13-31, Tharp 1-7)

Passing: Wheeling Central 4-6-55-x (all by McGhee). East Hardy 16-28-184-td-x (Skovron 16-26-184-td-x, Tharp 0-2).

Receiving: 4-55 (Price 3-46, Robbins 1-9). East Hardy 16-184-td (Dove 5-58-td, Funkhouser 4-48, Tharp 3-30, Mills 3-23, Mullin 1-22, Alt 1-3).

First Downs: Wheeling Central 7, East Hardy 15

Penalties: Wheeling Central 5-55, East Hardy 3-21

Fumbles: Wheeling Central 4-1, East Hardy 2-0.