Big Reds Come Up 3 Points Shy In Bid to Upset Midland, 45-42
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ONA - Were it not for two kickoff return touchdowns by the same player, Parkersburg's Big Reds would have pulled off perhaps the biggest upset in school history and definitely the biggest upset of the Class AAA high school football playoffs.
As it was the 15th ranked Big Reds nearly gained revenge for a regular season lop-sided loss and threw a giant scare into a team that was supposed to reach this year's state finals. The Knights were the second-ranked team in the state going into the first round of the playoffs.
In the end PHS came up three points short and suffered a 45-42 loss. Oddly enough, it was by the margin of a field goal that the Big Reds reached the playoffs (17-14 victory over Parkersburg South last week) and it was by the margin of a field goal that they were eliminated.
Showing incredible resilience and heart, the Big Reds overcame two kickoff return touchdowns by little-known Brady Elkins only to be unable to overcome a field goal with just over two minutes to play against the home-standing Knights, who had beaten PHS 42-21 back in the third week of the regular season.
Elkins returned the opening kickoff 66 yards for a touchdown and ran another back 65 yards in the middle of the second quarter while the Knights were putting on their usual potent running attack with 445 yards on the ground, 268 by Caperton Humphreys and 176 by Alex Childers.
But PHS was able to counter-punch with 300 yards passing and three touchdowns from Josh Trembly, who completed 12 of 19 passes with one interception. Included in that aerial attack was two TDs to jayvee quarterback/backup split end Karson Snyder, who was moved into the lineup due to the loss of two of PHS' regular receivers. Snyder caught only two passes but they were for touchdowns of 31 and 56 yards.
Dan Fox caught the other touchdown and also ran for a score while Austin Life was the leading receiver with 126 yards on four catches.
The Big Red passing game worked because Midland bunched all 11 defenders within a few yards of the line of scrimmage to stop the PHS run game and that worked well as the Big Reds were able to gain just 108 net yards on the ground although that did include minus 19 yards by Trembly.
Overall, Midland had 474 yards on 63 plays while PHS had 409 yards on 52 plays.
After the opening kick return TD by Midland, PHS was able to answer with 5:30 left in the first period when Snyder made a catch at the goal line with a Knight defender all over him.
A 51-yard run by Childers set up his five yard run with 4:12 on the clock to make it 14-7.
The Knights then put PHS in the hole with a punt to the Big Reds' nine yard line which was immediately followed by a five yard penalty. Josh Roney had to kick from his own three and Midland got the ball back just 31 yards from the end zone. In two plays Childers scored again to make it 21-7 with 11 minutes left in the first half.
But PHS responded with a 73 yard drive in just six plays to cut the lead to 21-14. A 36 yard pass to Brannon Turner set up a 23 yard scoring run by Fox with 8:21 on the second quarter clock.
The comeback momentum ended just 15 seconds later when another squib kickoff to gathered by Elkins, who did a rerun of his first score - but from one yard shorter. That touchdown made it 28-14 with 8:08 left before the half.
Again PHS responded, going 56 yards in just five plays with Corey Burdette covering the final five yards with 6:24 to play to again cut the margin to a touchdown at 28-21. The big play was a pass of 42 yards to Life.
With just 47 seconds remaining in the first half, Knight quarterback Coy Pettit scored from 16 yards away on a keeper to push the halftime lead to 35-21.
Midland looked like it was about to put the game on ice early in the second half when Humphreys broke away for a 55 yard touchdown run with just 1:46 gone in the third quarter. That made it 42-21 and Knight fans were starting to breath easier.
But there was no quit in the Big Reds as they answered in just six plays with Trembly hitting Fox from the 25 yard line after having connected on another bomb to Life for 33 yards. With 8:03 left in the quarter it was now 42-28.
Midland proceeded to use up 10 plays to go just 23 yards as they were hit with four penalties. The turned the ball over on downs at the Parkersburg 29 but the Big Reds suffered an interception at the Midland 20 late in the third period.
Again the Knights ate up clock time with 12 plays but again turned the ball over when Noah Weaver and Max Chefren stopped Childers for no gain on a fourth and one play at the 16 yard line.
Four plays later Chase Shank broke away for a 40 yard touchdown run to close the gap to 42-35 with 7:49 to play in what was now becoming a wild, wild west kind of shootout.
Leading by only a single score, Midland drove into the red zone again thanks to a 50 yard run by Childers but again the PHS defense rose up and held them at the three yard line, forcing Chris Heiner to come on and boot a 20 yard field goal with 5:36 still left to play which made it 45-35.
It did not take PHS long to answer that score however as Snyder got behind the Midland secondary again and hauled in a pass for a touchdown on a play that covered 56 yards and made it 45-42 with still 3:58 on the clock.
The Big Reds held the Knights to a three-and-out punt and got the ball back on their 29 with 2:06 remaining.
Three plays later PHS tried some trickery as Fox attempted a halfback pass but it was intercepted and Midland was able to run out the clock to preserve the victory.
The Big Reds went into the game without starting tackle Ben McFarland, who suffered a leg injury in practice this past week, and two of their regular receivers.
#15 Big Reds vs #2 Knights (Nov 15, 2014 at Ona, WV)
Score by Quarters.... 1 2 3 4 Total
Parkersburg Big Reds (6-5) 7 14 7 14 - 42
Cabell Midland Knights (10-1) 14 21 7 3 - 45
Qtr Time Scoring play
1st 11:49 MIDLAND - Brady Elkins 66 yd kickoff return (Chris Heiner kick)
05:30 PHS - Karson Snyder 31 yd pass from Josh Trembly (Josh Roney kick), 5-52 2:21
04:12 MIDLAND - Alex Childers 5 yd run (Chris Heiner kick), 5-31 0:11
2nd 11:00 MIDLAND - Alex Childers 3 yd run (Chris Heiner kick), 2-31 0:17
08:21 PHS - Dan Fox 23 yd run (Josh Roney kick), 6-73 2:32
08:08 MIDLAND - Brady Elkins 65 yd kickoff return (Chris Heiner kick)
06:24 PHS - Corey Burdette 5 yd run (Josh Roney kick), 5-56 1:43
00:47 MIDLAND - Coy Pettit 16 yd run (Chris Heiner kick), 6-42 2:00
3rd 10:14 MIDLAND - Caperton Humphreys 55 yd run (Chris Heiner kick), 1-55 0:10
08:03 PHS - Dan Fox 25 yd pass from Josh Trembly (Josh Roney kick), 6-65 2:10
4th 07:49 PHS - Chase Shank 40 yd run (Josh Roney kick), 3-84 1:20
05:36 MIDLAND - Chris Heiner 20 yd field goal, 6-62 2:13
03:58 PHS - Karson Snyder 56 yd pass from Josh Trembly (Josh Roney kick), 4-70 1:35