RED JACKET – Mingo Central improved to 4-2 on the season with a tough 22-20 homecoming win Friday night over Tolsia at James H. “Buck” Harless Stadium.
The Miners got the tying touchdown from junior Alex Lee on a shuttle pass from senior Joe May out of the Wildcat offense. That tied the game at 20-20 with 5:24 left in the game.
Mingo Central attempted the go ahead extra point kick, which was wide right. However, an off-sides penalty on the Rebels gave the Miners another shot. This time Coach Yogi Kinder and his staff decided to go for the 2-point conversion. The handoff went to May who went around the left side and dove into the end zone to give the home team a 22-20 lead that they would not relinquish.
Tolsia took the lead on the first play of the game as quarterback Dakota Robertson fooled about everybody in the stadium on a fake handoff up the middle. He then rolled out – holding the football up in the air to make sure the officials saw that he had the ball and would not blow the play dead – and he raced 96 yards for the score. The extra point kick was no good, but Tolsia took the early 6-0 lead.
Mingo Central tied the game at 6-6 with 1:37 left in the first quarter as Austin Prater picked up a fumble and ran 67 yards for a touchdown. The kick was no good and the game was tied at 6-6 after one quarter of play.
Both teams fought back and forth in the second quarter and penalties cost both teams good offensive possessions. A Tolsia fumble, recovered by Mingo Central’s Devin Ellis, stopped a good Rebel drive. However, the Miners were unable to capitalize on the turnover.
With 3:39 left in the second quarter, Lee recovered another Tolsia fumble. This turnover would cost the Rebels. Starting from their own 39-yard line, quarterback Matt Lester hit May on a screen pass for 20 yards and a first down.
Two plays later he hit Lee down the right sideline who was tackled at the 3-yard line. Then Tolsia’s defense stepped up to stuff three straight running attempts by the Miners.
But on the fourth and goal May plunged in from one yard out to give Mingo Central the lead. Lester then hit Chance Lester with a pass for the 2-point conversion and the Miners took what they thought was a safe 14-6 lead with only seconds left in the half.
However, Tolsia’s Brandon Ward had other plans for the Miners. After a squib kick Ward picked up the loose pigskin and sliced his way through the Mingo Central kickoff team for a 54- yard touchdown return. Robertson hit Terry Davis with a 2-point conversion pass to tie the game up at 14-14 with only five seconds left on the clock.
The Rebels also kicked the ball on the ground and Tolsia was able to recover the football. They attempted one last pass play before the half, but the ball was batted away.
Tolsia came out at the start of the third quarter and attempted an on-sides kick, but Mingo fell on the ball and had good field position on the 47 yard line. But the home team was unable to move the ball as the Tolsia defense bottled up all-state running back Joe May.
Neither team was able to hit pay-dirt in the third quarter and the game remained tied at 14-14 heading into the final minutes of play.
With 10:58 left in the game, Tolsia head coach Mike Smith and his staff came up with a little trickery. The called a halfback pass and it worked to perfection as Ward hit Davis for a long touchdown reception and the Rebels regained the lead. The important extra point kick was no good because of a bad snap, but Tolsia led 20-14.
After a Mingo Central punt, Tolsia had the ball again in good field position. But then Miner senior Garth Simpkins came up with a big interception with 5:32 left in the game.
Two plays later Lee scored his tying TD and May got in for the conversion to give the home team the lead with 5:24 remaining in the fourth quarter.
Mingo Central then had to play some tough defense with plenty of time left on the clock. After regaining the football on offense, the Miners picked up a couple of first downs to eat up much of the clock.
Tolsia was able to get the ball back for one last chance after a Mingo Central fumble with 1:22 left in the game. But the Rebels had run out of tricks and were unable to score in the final seconds.
Lee caught five passes for 103 yards and a touchdown. He was selected as the Player of the Game by WXCC radio. He also had some big defensive plays and also served as an escort at halftime during homecoming festivities.
May was held to 56 yards on 23 carries and one TD. Lester completed 7-14 passes for 119 yards. There were at least four dropped passes by Mingo Central receivers, or his stats would have been better. Lester was starting in place of freshman quarterback Stevie Hammond, who was injured last week at Wayne and is out for the season.
Unofficially, Tolsia had 316 yards of total offense, 199 on the ground and 117 through the air. Both teams picked up eight first downs in the contest.
Mingo Central (4-2) will play host to Wheeling Central Catholic next Saturday at James H. Buck ‘Harless’ Stadium with an afternoon kickoff slated for 1:30 p.m. The Miners came into the game ranked No. 11 in Class 2A.
Mingo Central is hoping to make the playoffs for the first time this season. The newly consolidated school is only in their second year.
Tolsia is now 3-4 and will play host to their county rival Wayne this Friday night at 7:30 p.m. The Rebels were ranked in the top 16 last week, but will likely drop down this week. They still have an outside chance to make the playoffs.
Score by quarters:
THS … 6 8 0 6 - 20
MC … 6 8 0 8 - 22