HURRICANE, W.Va. — Having seen Cabell Midland win each of its first three games in comfortable fashion, Knights’ head coach Luke Salmons was eager to see his team’s response Friday when faced with a 14-13 deficit at Hurricane.
Salmons got just the answer he was looking for, as Cabell Midland used its powerful rushing attack and tightened up defensively to prevail with a 28-20 victory over the Redskins.
“I liked this game better than any game we’ve been apart of this year, because it shows we have heart,” Salmons said.
Although Class AAA No. 5 Cabell Midland (3-0) lost a fumble in Hurricane territory to start the second half, the Knights forced the third-rated Redskins to punt after only three plays on their first series after the intermission.
CMHS then put together one of its trademark drives — marching 51 yards in 11 plays, converting a fourth-and-4 from the Hurricane 45, before scoring on a 1-yard run from Jaydyn Johnson.
Leading by five, Johnson kept it on a successful 2-point conversion run that upped his team’s lead to 21-14 with 2:31 to play in the third quarter.
But Hurricane (2-1) answered with a 14 play, 78-yard drive that featured a 30-yard pass on third-and-23 and was capped off by Ismael Borrero finding an uncovered Chase Hager for 1-yard TD pass. The point-after try, however, was blocked, leaving the Knights with the 21-20 lead with 10:01 remaining.
“That was huge,” Salmons said. “You never want to be chasing points.”
Faced with a third-and-9 on the third play of its ensuing possession, Cabell Midland turned to reliable power back Jakob Caudill, who rumbled his way for a 9-yard gain to prolong the drive.
Caudill’s 21-yard run later in the drive put the Knights in the red zone and Johnson scored on a 9-yard run on the next play. A successful PAT allowed Midland to lead by eight with 5:08 left.
“Whenever you’re in big games, you have a lot of trust. Caudill’s been there,” Salmons said.
Hurricane started on its 42, but was stopped at the line of scrimmage on a fourth-and-1 run, allowing the Knights to take over at their 49 with 3:40 remaining.
Cabell Midland produced three more first downs to run out the clock and remain unbeaten.
“We did a lot of good things, but we shot ourselves in the foot too much,” Hurricane coach Jeremy Taylor said. “We had more penalties and that’s the sign of an undisciplined football team. That’s on me and we’ll take care of it Monday.”
Borrero’s 2-yard TD run 9:53 into the action allowed the Redskins to lead 7-0.
Midland got even 10:21 before halftime when Caudill crossed the goal line on a 20-yard run after getting to the outside.
Caudill’s 1-yard run with 2:56 to play in the opening half gave the Knights their first lead at 13-7, but the PAT was blocked.
Borrero connected with Hager for a 35-yard scoring pass 50 seconds before halftime that allowed HHS to lead at the break.
“They’re the best football team in the state right now,” Taylor said of the Knights. “But we’re really close.”