NEWTOWN — Friday night’s clash between the Logan and Mingo Central football teams might be the last game on the gridiron between the two schools at least in the foreseeable future.
That’s a shame. Just too bad.
That’s because the Miners and the Wildcats put on a mountaintop show at a freezing cold Buck Harless Stadium at Mingo Central.
With both teams playing for their playoff lives it was the Class AA Miners which came away with a 26-20 signature victory over 3A Logan, holding off the Wildcats late in the fourth quarter.
Both teams entered the game ranked No. 13 in the respective classifications with identical 5-2 records.
It was like a playoff game with a playoff atmosphere before a good crowd who braved the arctic, barely above 32-degree air.
A lot was on the line for both teams and the game had major playoff implications written all over it.
Mingo Central (6-2) was the major winner — not just on the scoreboard — as the Miners inched their way toward a possible No. 8 ranking and a first-round home playoff game. MC made it to the playoffs last year with a 5-5 record but had to travel on the road for an opening round contest and got hammered.
With the win over Logan, Mingo Central beat a Class AAA team for the first time in school history and won for the sixth time for the first time in a season. For Mingo Central, a school playing only its third-ever season of high school football after the consolidation, the victory over Logan was billed as the biggest win in school history.
On the other side of the coin, it was a crushing loss for Logan (5-3). In order to wrap up a berth in the Class AAA playoffs, the Wildcats needed to win out.
Now, the Wildcats are on the playoff bubble.
Even with wins over 3A Nitro and 2A Scott in the final two weeks, Logan might not have enough points to make it to the post-season with a 7-3 record. The same thing happened last year as the Cats were 7-3 and closed out ranked No. 17 — just one spot away from the top 16 playoff field.
Logan and Mingo Central are most likely not going to be playing each other next season as the contract is expired and lot likely to be renewed. The Miners, which joined the Cardinal Conference last year, have to add league foes Sissonville and Scott to their schedule in 2014. Logan and Webster County are probably going to be getting the axe.
Logan, which won the first two meetings over Mingo Central, was not able to get the job done this time around. The Cats fell into a 14-0 hole at halftime and ended up rallying but it was too late.
Wildcats’ coach Gary Mullins said he was disappointed this his team’s play.
“That was a butt whooping,” Mullins said. “We didn’t have our guys ready to play at all. It was obvious that we weren’t ready to play. We’re embarrassed. That’s what it looked like 10 years ago and I’m sorry for anybody that paid money to get in here and watch us play because this wasn’t a very good product that we put out there. It’s my fault.”
Logan’s playoff hopes took a serious hit with the loss.
“If we lose another one we won’t be in for sure,” Mullins said. “We know that our backs are against the wall. We just have to learn from this and move on. That’s what you do when you have 18 seniors. We have to get back to work on Monday and hopefully get out there and get our sixth win.”
The Miners outgained Logan 304-270 in yards of total offense.
Mingo Central, using a shotgun, misdirection offense, rolled up 245 yards rushing on 48 carries, led by sophomore running back Deonte Joplin’s 22 rushes for 119 yards. QB Stephen Hammond added another 59 yards passing and a touchdown and rushed five times for 28 yards and two scores. Dakweon Willis tacked on another 35 yards on 10 carries and a score.
Alex “Booger” Lee caught five passes for 59 yards and a TD.
“It worked all night long,” Mullins said when asked about the Miners’ offensive scheme.
Logan was held to 25 rushes for only 87 net yards. Logan quarterback Ryan Miller came off the bench to pass for 183 yards on 9-for-12 passing with two interceptions and one interception. Starter Josh Rein was 0-for-6 passing with one pick.
Wildcats’ feature back Brynden “Worm” Street was held to 46 yards on the ground on 11 carries.
Down 20-13 to Mingo Central and facing a fourth-and-nine on its own 25-yard line, Logan surprisingly decided to keep punter Daniel Hanks on the sideline and went for it in a “riverboat gambler” type of play.
The decision backfired on the Wildcats as Miller’s pass fell incomplete with 6:53 left in the game.
Mingo Central quickly capitalized as Willis ran in for a 5-yard touchdown with 4:35 left, pushing the lead to two scores at 26-13. The two-point conversion failed.
But Logan wasn’t done.
The Wildcats struck back just 33 seconds later as Miller hit Street on a 9-yard TD pass. Hanks booted the PAT and Logan was down only 26-20 with 4:02 left.
Mingo Central recoverd the ensuing squib kick and began to chew up the rest of the clock. The Wildcats had all three timeouts and used them all in an effort to get the ball back but Logan’s defense was unable to stop the Miners, which moved the chains and ate up the remaining time.
The key play on the drive was an 18-yard run by Lester for a first down. The Miners drove the ball all the way to the Logan 9-yard line and Hammond ended up taking a knee to end the game.
Mingo Central dominated first-half play, taking a 14-0 lead into the break. The Miners could have been up three scores had it not been for a goal line stand on Mingo Central’s first possession when Joplin was stopped at the 1-yard line after a 1-yard gain on a fourth-and-goal at the Logan 2.
On Logan’s second drive, a snap over punter Hanks’ head ended up being a disaster. Hanks was able to somehow get the punt off but it went for no yards to the Logan 35-yard line. Central then took it to the 27 after an 8-yard return.
Six plays later, Hammond scored on a 1-yard QB plunge with 10:28 left until the half. Joplin added the run on the two-point conversion as the Miners led Logan 8-0.
Mingo Central then scored again at the 4:17 mark as Hammond was in the end zone on a 5-yard keeper. The conversion failed, leaving the score at 14-0.
Logan tried to score just before the half but a fourth-and-eight pass by Rein at the Miners’ 14-yard line fell incomplete with 15 seconds left.
The Miners tried to get something going on their first drive of the second half after Hammond hit Lee on a 40-yard pass play. A fourth down conversion failed, however, and Logan got the ball back in Wildcat territory.
Rein, though, was picked off by Tyler Jude, his second of the night, and returned it to the Logan 26 with seven minutes left in the third. Then two plays later, Hammond connected with Lee on a 22-yard TD pass. The conversion failed but the Miners led 20-0 with 6:11 showing on the clock.
Down three scores, Logan needed a quick strike.
They got it as Miller came off the bench to fire a 66-yard touchdown pass to Rein at the 5:07 mark. Hanks split the uprights as Logan trailed 20-7.
Hammond was then picked off by Street with one second left in the third quarter, giving Logan a first-and-10 at its own 34.
The Cats drove down field, thanks to a 49-yard pass from Miller to freshman Noah Corbett down to the MC 9-yard line. Miller later ran in from 3 yards out for a touchdown. The PAT by Hanks sailed wide left in the cold mountaintop air but Logan was down only 20-13 with 10:37 remaining in the game.
The Miners were then able to get another score and hold off the Wildcats late to notch the win.
Rein finished the game with four catches for 72 yards and a score. He returned to his more familiar wide receiver post in the second half. Rein started at QB last week in Logan’s 48-29 homecoming victory over Greenbrier East.
Tyler Workman had a 37-yard catch for LHS. Clayton Marcum had a 6-yard catch, while Street had two grabs for nine yards and a score.
Rein had seven carries for 20 yards. Matt Cox had four rushes for 14 yards. Miller had two carries for seven yards and a score. Tyler Vernatter had one rush for four yards.
Hanks was 2-for-3 in PAT kicks.
The Wildcats return home this coming Friday night as Logan hosts the Class AAA Nitro Wildcats. The two teams haven’t played each other in about 10 years. Nitro is 1-7 after losing 52-6 at home on Friday night to No. 4 Capital. Logan then closes out the season on Nov. 8 at home against 2A Scott (3-5). The Skyhawks were idle this week.
Mingo Central plays at Cardinal Conference team Herbert Hoover this coming Friday night at Falling Rock. The Huskies are 2-6 after losing 43-33 to No. 15-ranked and non-league foe Roane County on Friday night. They end the season at home the next week with Mt. View.