9,29,2017 at Wheeling Park Game
Big Reds Stun Wheeling Park With Huge Second Half Comeback
Game Statistics / Game Pictures
WHEELING - Twice before this season the Big Reds have played highly touted, state-ranked teams and staged furious second half comebacks only to be denied.
Not this time.
Rallying from a 36-14 deficit, PHS pulled off probably its biggest football win in 10 years and did it on the same field as that victory a decade ago. The Big Reds out-scored Wheeling Park 22-0 in the second half, shutting out all-state and Division I-bound quarterback Cross Wilkinson, to notch a 43-36 triumph over a Patriot team just two years removed from a state championship (when Wilkinson was the quarterback).
Ten years ago the Big Reds captured the Class AAA state championship at the same Wheeling Island Stadium. That was the last time PHS played at Wheeling Island.
Wheeling Park came into the game ranked 12th with a 3-2 record but its two losses were two current number one ranked University (by 7 points) and by four points to 7th ranked double-A powerhouse Bridgeport.
But the Patriots found the never-say-die Big Reds too much to handle offensively and defensively (in the second half). After falling behind by 15 at the half, PHS held the home team out of the end zone in the last 24 minutes and limited Wilkinson to just six of 14 passing for 83 yards and three interceptions (the same amount of picks that Wilkinson had in the first five games of the season combined). The Big Reds actually ended the first half with another interception.
Stars for the Big Reds included Tyler Moler, who scored three touchdowns and ran for 194 yards on 24 carries. He scored on an 81 yard scamper and two yard plunges.
Kam Mace threw for three touchdowns, two of them in the second half (one each to Jake Johnson and Brenton Strange). Mace's first half TD pass went to Shane Miller. In all, Mace completed eight of 14 passes for 238 yards as Johnson caught three passes for 114 yards.
But maybe the real stars of the game were linebacker Wyatt Strobl, who had 14 tackles against an offense that was averaging over 35 points per game, along with Caden Florence with two interceptions and Kionte Peacock and Jake Johnson (each with an interception). Peacock's interception came on Wheeling Park's last chance drive when Wilkinson had passed his team down to the PHS 32 yard line.
The signature win for new head coach Mike Byus came in only his fifth game at the helm and raised the 14th-ranked Big Reds to 3-2 with a home game next Friday against a one-win Beckley Woodrow Wilson team.
In the first half Wheeling Park looked like the team it was touted to be - one of the top contenders to play in the state championship game. The Patriots scored on five of their six possessions (running out of downs once and throwing an interception in the end zone on the last play of the first half. They combined the running of Donnie Evans and Lorenzo Clark (who had 107 total yards and two touchdowns in the first half) with the passing and running of Wilkinson (13 of 22 passing for 218 yards and two scores). One of those touchdown passes was an 87 yard catch and run by Jack Stakem, who was able to break free when two Big Red defenders ran into each other as they were about to make the tackle.
The Big Reds were able to score on an 81-yard TD run by Moler in the middle of the first quarter and the PHS junior went in from a yard out with five minutes left in the half to cap a 53 yard, 10-play drive. The big play on that scoring possession was a 24 yard reception by Strange.
But Park tacked on two more scores to go up 36-14 and things looked bleak for the Big Reds. A high snap on a punt situation cost PHS 19 yards and gave the home team the ball on the PHS 15 yard line. That set up a two yard run by Evans.
But special teams, which helped PHS all night, got a 57 yard kickoff return by Seth Dailey and on the next play Miller got a pass and raced in from 18 yards away to make it a two score game.
An interception by Florence ended a Wheeling Park drive that took 12 plays and went from the Patriots' 10 to the PHS 23. On the next play Mace and Johnson hooked up for a 77 yard touchdown pass and suddenly PHS was back in the game with the score at 36-28.
A 33-yard punt return by Peacock gave PHS the ball on Wheeling 25 and a 25-yard completion to Dailey followed by a 17 yard run by Moler set up Moler's one yard plunge with 59 second left in the third quarter. That cut the margin to just two points at 36-34.
To start the fourth quarter the Big Reds forced a punt and promptly went 82 yards on just four plays with Johnson going 27 yards on a reception and Strange scoring from 51 yards out with 9:35 left in the game. The two-point conversion failed but PHS was now on top 40-36.
Johnson came up with his interception four plays later at the PHS 41 and a big dose of Moler running the ball took it to the 18 from where Christian Axman kicked a 25 yard field goal to increase the margin to 43-36 with just 3:36 left in the game.
The Patriots took the ensuing kickoff and drove their own 35 to the PHS 32 before Peacock's pass theft sealed the victory.
Score by Quarters 1 2 3 4 Total
Big Reds 6 15 13 9 - 43
Patriots 14 22 0 0 - 36
Qtr Time Scoring play
1st 08:33 WP - Jack Stakem 24 yd pass from Cross Wilkinson (Andrew Glass kick), 9-58 3:27
07:52 PHS - Tyler Moler 81 yd run (Christian Axman kick failed), 2-77 0:36
03:15 WP - Donnie Evans 4 yd run (Andrew Glass kick), 6-43 2:25
2nd 08:32 WP - Cross Wilkinson 8 yd run (Andrew Glass kick), 8-64 3:22
05:00 PHS - Tyler Moler 1 yd run (Nathaniel Steed pass from Kam Mace), 10-53 3:23
04:39 WP - Jack Stakem 87 yd pass from Cross Wilkinson (Nate Phillips rush), 1-87 0:15
01:50 WP - Donnie Evans 2 yd run (Andrew Glass kick), 4-15 1:17
01:33 PHS - Shane Miller 18 yd pass from Kam Mace (Christian Axman kick), 1-18 0:06
3rd 03:42 PHS - Jake Johnson 77 yd pass from Kam Mace (Christian Axman kick), 1-77 0:12
00:59 PHS - Tyler Moler 1 yd run (Kam Mace pass failed), 3-44 0:37
4th 09:35 PHS - Brenton Strange 51 yd pass from Kam Mace (Kam Mace rush failed), 4-82 1:26
03:36 PHS - Christian Axman 25 yd field goal, 10-51 4:37
FIRST DOWNS 16 23
RUSHES-YARDS (NET) 34-204 38-178
PASSING YDS (NET) 238 301
Passes Att-Comp-Int 14-8-0 36-19-4
TOTAL OFFENSE PLAYS-YARDS 48-442 74-479
Fumble Returns-Yards 0-0 0-0
Punt Returns-Yards 2-28 0-0
Kickoff Returns-Yards 6-143 6-56
Interception Returns-Yards 4-49 0-0
Punts (Number-Avg) 3-12.0 2-31.5
Fumbles-Lost 2-0 0-0
Penalties-Yards 5-23 4-20
Possession Time 20:02 27:58
Third-Down Conversions 3 of 8 7 of 14
Fourth-Down Conversions 0 of 1 2 of 3
Red-Zone Scores-Chances 4-4 3-3
Sacks By: Number-Yards 0-0 1-12
RUSHING: Big Reds-Tyler Moler 24-194; Shane Miller 2-24; Jake Johnson 1-9; Kam Mace 7-minus 23.
Patriots-Lorenzo Clark 16-97; Donnie Evans 20-72; Cross Wilkinson 2-9.
PASSING: Big Reds-Kam Mace 8-14-0-238. Patriots-Cross Wilkinson 19-36-4-301.
RECEIVING: Big Reds-Jake Johnson 3-114; Brenton Strange 2-75; Seth Dailey 2-31; Shane Miller 1-18.
Patriots-Nate Phillips 8-121; Jack Stakem 5-145; Lorenzo Clark 3-22; Donnie Evans 3-13.
INTERCEPTIONS: Big Reds-Kionte Peacock 1-41; Caden Florence 2-8; Jake Johnson 1-0.
FUMBLES: Big Reds-Kam Mace 1-0; Kionte Peacock 1-0. Patriots-None.
Big Reds (3-2) vs. Patriots (3-3)
Date: Sep 29, 2017 • Site: Wheeling • Stadium: Island Stadium
Kickoff time: 7:00 • End of Game: 9:34 • Total elapsed time: 2:34
SACKS (UA-A): Big Reds-None. Patriots-Dustin VanSickle 1-0.
TACKLES (UA-A): Big Reds-Wyatt Strobl 12-1; Kionte Peacock 6-2; Caden Florence 5-0; Brenton Strange
5-0; Seth Dailey 4-1; Zion Atkinson 3-2; Gage Fiore 3-1; Jake Johnson 3-0; Braedon Mason 2-1; C.J.
Wade 2-1; Jeremy Walls 2-0; Gavin Perkins 1-1; Brandon Braham 1-0; Nathaniel Steed 1-0.