Spurlock, Hodge overcome injuries to lead Pioneers
WHEELING -- In the days leading up to the Class AA state championship game, Wayne football coach Tom Harmon joked that it would take an Army Reserve unit to keep injured standouts Brandon Spurlock and Mason Hodge off the field.
Well, at least, I thought he was joking.
Upon seeing their performances in Wayne's 35-0 blanking of Keyser, it appears that Harmon might not have been joking after all.
Hodge set the tone for the Pioneers on the opening play of the game when he took a run around the right side, rolled on top of a would-be tackler, kept his feet and raced for a 22-yard gain.
Two plays later, Spurlock took a handoff and sped 37 yards to set up Wayne's first score -- a 23-yard touchdown pass from Grant Ferguson to Hodge on fourth down.
On the play, Spurlock reinjured his leg when he cut back and had to go to the sidelines for a little bit.
"I was 100 percent going out there, and then the first run I had, it just pulled again and there was nothing I could do," Spurlock said.
It wasn't going to keep him off the field, though.
He finished with 144 yards and three touchdowns en route to the Samuel Mumley Award, given to the Most Valuable Player from each competing team in a championship.
Spurlock even said that this year's championship superseded last year's title win -- a game in which he rushed for 197 yards and three touchdowns.
After all, his final run as a Pioneer was a 13-yard touchdown that set the final score.
It doesn't get much sweeter than that.
"Oh, definitely this year's, even though I wasn't able to do things 100 percent, there's nothing like winning like this," Spurlock said. "There's no more like this. This is it for me."
Like Spurlock, Hodge also suffered an injury late in the first quarter and had to be helped to the sidelines after getting twisted up following a run deep in Keyser territory.
It was unclear whether Hodge would return to the lineup, but he made his presence felt -- literally -- on his first carry of the second half.
Hodge took a jet sweep around the left side and the only thing standing between him and a big gain was Keyser's Eric Wilt.
The 6-foot, 230-pound sophomore standout lowered his shoulder and put Wilt flat on his back before chunking off another 22 yards.
Hodge didn't just punish Keyser on the offensive end; he rudely greeted Keyser running backs throughout the game.
For Hodge, it was a simple formula: the best way to get over pain is to inflict it.
"Winning a state championship will make anything feel better," Hodge said.
WAYNE DEFENSE SETS RECORD: Wayne's defense allowed just 92 total yards in the contest, a Class AA championship record. The Pioneers also held the previous record of 94 yards, but that performance came in a 27-7 loss to Bluefield in 2009.
QUITE A TANDEM: Cabell Midland's David Gaydosz and Lowell Farley each finished off their high school careers in impressive fashion in the loss to Martinsburg on Saturday afternoon.
Gaydosz finished with 131 yards and two scores on 25 carries while Farley ended the day with 17 carries for 120 yards.
It brought an end to a season in which the duo rushed for 4,041 yards and 51 touchdowns between them. Gaydosz ended the year with 229 carries for 2,327 yards and 29 touchdowns while Farley ended with 221 carries for 1,714 yards and 22 touchdowns.
RECORD-BREAKERS: Martinsburg's Trey Boyd reset the Class AAA championship game record for longest rush with his 83-yard touchdown run in the second quarter.
The previous high was 80 yards by Morgantown's Thomas Porchia in the 1998 Class AAA championship against Nitro.
HIGH-SCORING AFFAIRS: This year was the first time in the 66-year history of the West Virginia State Championships that the winners in each title game scored 35 or more points.
Last year's games came close with Class AAA champion Martinsburg and Class A champion Wheeling Central each scoring 35. However, Wayne defeated Point Pleasant 34-7, falling one point shy of the milestone.
Grant Traylor is a sports writer for The Herald-Dispatch. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 304-526-2860. Follow him on Twitter (@GrantTraylor).