WAYNE - Perhaps no other football program in the state of West Virginia epitomizes the "next man up" philosophy quite like the Wayne Pioneers.
With two-year starting quarterback Grant Ferguson on the shelf due to an ankle injury, the Pioneers rode the legs of their experienced backfield to the tune of 472 yards on the ground en route to a grinding 53-25 win over Philip Barbour in the opening round of the Class AA playoffs Friday night.
With Ferguson out, junior Nate Adkins stepped in to fill the void at quarterback. However, conditions on a muddy Pioneer Field were not favorable for throwing the ball, which suited Wayne's philosophy just fine.
Photo courtesy of Sholten Singer/The Herald-Dispatch
Philip Barbour quarterback Tyler Titchnell gets past Wayne defender Logan Queen to gain yardage in Class AA playoff action Friday night at Wayne.
Three Wayne running backs topped the century mark, and the offense churned out a whopping 29 first downs. Cody Stiltner led all rushers with 117 yards on just five carries. Nathan Spurlock and Mason Hodge and Nathan Spurlock also hit triple digits with 105 and 104 yards, respectively.
Stiltner continued his late-season scoring frenzy by tallying three times.
The sophomore wingback scored on a jet sweep from 27 yards out on Wayne's second offensive possession to open up the scoring with 7:28 to go in the first quarter. Following touchdown runs by Steven Perry and Spurlock midway through the second quarter, Stiltner scored from the exact same distance on the same play to extend the Pioneer lead to 26-0 with just 1:22 left in the first half.
Philip Barbour (6-5) would answer quickly on its next possession, as Tyler Titchnell connected with Andre Johnson on a go route to cut the Pioneer lead to 26-6 at halftime.
For all of Stiltner's contributions offensively, it was his third TD - this time from the defensive side - that ended any glimmer of hope for Philip Barbour.
After receiving the second half kickoff, PB's Dylan Johnson fumbled at the Colt 9. Stiltner scooped up the loose ball and scampered in to push the lead to 33-6 and essentially end any threat of a Colt comeback. Despite the error, Johnson finished with a game-high 145 yards rushing on 19 carries.
"We had guys in multiple positions who did an efficient enough job to get us to the second round," Wayne coach Tom Harmon said. "Cody's a playmaker, and he has a good understanding of the game. There's no substitute for being in battle, which is what some of our younger guys are used to now that we're 10 games into it."
The Pioneers (11-0) also received second-half touchdowns by Hodge, Brody Lunsford and Logan Queen.
For Philip Barbour, the game slipped away at two different points. The Stiltner fumble return squelched any momentum gained from Tinchnell and Johnson's scoring connection to close the first half, but the Colts missed out on a golden opportunity on their second offensive possession.
Trailing 6-0, the PB offense marched 73 yards from its own 14 to the Pioneer 13. However, the Colts fumbled on a first and 10, ending the early scoring threat.
PB put the ball on the ground eight times, losing only two fumbles. The wet and muddy ball was a direct result of the sloppy field conditions, a fact that was not lost on Harmon in the moments after the game.
"There's no offense in the world that can work without blocking. With no blocking, an offense will be ineffective. Certainly in these horrid conditions we had better be able to do it," Harmon said.
Bridgeport .... 54
Roane County 20
BRIDGEPORT - Anthony Bonamico ran for 227 yards on 13 carries with three touchdowns to lead Class AA No. 2 Bridgeport past No. 15 Roane County, 54-20, in a first-round playoff game Friday night at Wayne Jamison Field.
The Raiders (7-4) took an early lead as Steven McGinnis returned the opening kickoff 82 yards for a touchdown. Three plays later, Bonamico was in the end zone with a 42-yard touchdown run and the Indians (10-1) took over from there.
Roane County was held to negative 6 yards rushing in the first half, while the Indians scored on four of their next five possessions to take a commanding lead.
Bonamico added TD runs of 47 and 48 to bring his season total to 27.
Fairmont Senior 49
Keyser ............... 28
FAIRMONT - It was business as usual for Fairmont Senior as it hosted Keyser at East-West Stadium Friday night.
The Polar Bears were able to ride a strong first half to a 49-28 victory over the Golden Tornado in the first round of the Class AA playoffs.
Austin Norman and Neil Scherich got things clicking early, and the Polar Bears never looked back.
After senior Luke Hrapchak put Fairmont Senior on the board first with a 13-yard rumble, Norman threw four first-half touchdown passes to put the Polar Bears on top 42-8 at the break.
Two of those passes were to Scherich for scores.
Keyser, which was without its top running back Danny Fife, couldn't seem to get things going on the ground in the first half.
While some large bursts were there, the Fairmont Senior defense seemed to stifle any and everything coming its way.
The defense, led by Hrapchak in the middle, allowed 140 yards of total offense in the first half to Fairmont Senior's 378.