Fort Gay, W. Va. — Wheeling Central Quarterback Jacob Rine hit Jalen Creighton for a 61 yard touchdown pass with seven seconds left as the #10 ranked Maroon Knights shocked #7 Tolsia 13-12 Saturday afternoon in the first round of the WVSSAC playoffs at Wilt Salmons Athletic Field.
Both defenses were lights out in the first half with the best scoring chance for Tolsia came with under a minute left in the first half as the Rebel special teams blocked a punt and took over at the Wheeling Central four yard line but couldn’t cash in after a sack on first down, 2 yard gain on second down and then they tried to stop the clock a fall start was called and then the clock ran out before they could get another play off the game remained scoreless at Halftime.
The Rebels drew first blood when Gavin Meadows intercepted a Maroon Knight pass and raced 56 yards to pay dirt on the last play of the third quarter for a 6-0 lead.
On the ensuing Wheeling Central drive Rine connected with Creighton on a 17 yards pass play and Rine kicked the PAT for a 7-6 lead with 8:45 left in the ballgame.
After a Rebel punt the Maroon Knights drove to the Tolsia 10 yard line and faced a 4th and 5 with just under 4 minutes left but Zack Ball knocked down a pass near the end zone to give Tolsia one more shot.
Needing 90 yards to knock out the two time defending champs the Rebels begin to march with a strike from Jesse Muncy to Gavin Meadows for 11 yards, then on fourth and seven Meadows made an incredible 25 yard catch to set up the Rebels near midfield, a couple plays later Muncy was almost intercepted but Meadows took the ball away from the Wheeling Central defender for a first down, two plays later Muncy threw a pick that looked like it sealed the Rebels fate but Wheeling Central had twelve players on the field and gave Tolsia a first down.
John Wilson went 11 yards on a draw play, Muncy scrambled for 9 yards to the 21 yard line, Muncy found Copley and then scrambled down to the 1 yard line to make it first and goal with under a minute and no timeouts, after intentional grounding was called on Muncy moving the ball back to the 6 yard line, after the penalty Muncy found Tanner Copley near the pylon and Copley found the end zone for the go ahead touchdown with :39 left in the game to make it 12-7 Rebels that set off a wild celebration before the Maroon Knights broke the hearts of the Rebel Faithful just moments later.
The Defense for the Rebels has been playing lights out and that continued on Saturday holding the high octane Maroon Knights to 13 points. Caused 3 turnovers, scored a touchdown, 4 sacks, and blocked a punt. Seniors Stone Sartin and JT Kitts played well, Juniors TJ Jackson, Wilson Brothers, Meadows, and Will Newsome were disruptive.
John Wilson 42 yards rushing, Muncy 32 yards, Meadows 31 yards, Copley 18 yards.
Muncy was 9-15 passing for 86 yards, Meadows 5 catches 65 yards receiving and Copley 4 catches for 21 yards.
Wheeling Central will travel to #2 Ritchie Co. next weekend for the Quarterfinals of the Class A playoffs.
Tolsia Head Coach Eric Crum
“… Crazy last thirty seconds, physically the best game we played, we swarmed to the football and gang tackled the best all year. It’s a shame we had to lose, hard fought game. We fought to the end. I can’t put into words how proud I am of this team right now, I’m also disappointed in the way we lost, neither team deserved to lose today. Both teams left everything they had on that field. It was a great game to be apart of and can’t enough good things about my bunch. Give Wheeling Central credit they are the defending champions for a reason.”
“… Right before the half will haunt me for a long time. We score on that drive and that changes the whole game. We didn’t handle it very well and it cost us.”
“… We can build on this for next year. This loss will not define us or this team. These kids are devastated but they played their hearts out and that’s makes it hurt worse.
“… I can’t say enough about our kids. I’m so proud and disappointed at the same time. We went from 2-8 where we started a bunch of freshman to taking Wheeling Central to the brink says so much about our kids. They were beat on when they were younger and now they almost pulled off something special. We lose some talent but return a junior class that is very good. We will get back to work as soon as possible to get ready for next year.”