WILLIAMSTOWN, W.Va. — It took Class A No. 1 Wheeling Central only four plays to score in Thursday’s season opener at No. 4 Williamstown.
As it turned out, the 62-yard touchdown run from Bray Price 1:02 into the action was more than enough offense for the Maroon Knights, who cruised to a 33-0 victory over the Yellowjackets.
“They tried to out-scheme us with going one way, misdirection and motioning people into strength. I thought our kids adjusted well to it and our coaches did a good job with the adjustments,” Wheeling Central coach Mike Young said. “We could have made a couple more adjustments, but we chose to play solid and do what we did. “
After Price’s TD run gave Central (1-0) the early 7-0 lead, the teams exchanged punts. When Williamstown (0-1) was forced to punt on its second series, the Maroon Knights blocked it, allowing them to set up shop at the Yellowjackets 34-yard line with 5:38 left in the opening quarter.
Five plays later, Price scored his second touchdown on a 5-yard run. Jacob Rine knocked home his second point-after kick to give the Maroon Knights a 14-0 advantage.
Neither team was able to develop a rhythm offensively for much of the second quarter. Following Williamstown’s fifth punt in as many series, the Maroon Knights took over at their own 10 with 4:22 to play until halftime.
Looking to perhaps do no more than pick up a first down or two and take a two-touchdown lead into halftime, Central’s plan changed when quarterback Curtis McGhee found Jalen Creighton for a 13-yard pass, which combined with a personal foul, resulted in the Maroon Knights moving to their own 38.
On the next play, McGhee broke free for a 62-yard TD run, and the defending Class A state champions took a 20-0 lead into halftime.
“It was demoralizing, but we were already demoralized,” Williamstown coach Terry Smith said. “You can’t feel much worse, but if we got out of there at 14-0, we might have felt a little bit better about ourselves.
“But we couldn’t run the ball. It’d be nice to run the ball and then you can fake the run and throw, but we were limited in our offense and then it was pin the ears back and bring it from their defensive line.”
Receiving to start the second half, Williamstown had a chance to get within striking distance if it could put together its best drive of the night. However, after picking up one first down, Yellowjackets quarterback Carter Haynes lost a fumble that the Maroon Knights’ Payton Marling recovered at the WHS 35.
On the second play of the ensuing series, McGhee outran the Williamstown defense for a 34-yard touchdown run, giving his team a 27-0 lead at the 9:24 mark of the third quarter.
Central’s defense, led by last year’s Huff Award winner, linebacker Adam Murray, and defensive lineman Vinny Mangino, continued to wreak havoc on the Yellowjackets’ offense throughout the night. Although Williamstown moved inside the Central 10-yard line late in the third quarter, Haynes was intercepted by Creighton at the 2.
McGhee’s 21-yard TD pass to Price with 9:56 remaining concluded the scoring in the contest.
“We want to be balanced to where you can’t put nine in the box and we don’t want to be where it’s we throw the ball all the time either, because our success has been the run usually,” Young said. “But they’re giving us the pass, so we’re taking it. And Curtis and the receivers did a super job.”