Knights win wild one
ONA — In Friday night football game that featured nearly 900 yards and 89 points, the most important play turned out to be a defensive stop.
Cabell Midland’s Tre Martin intercepted a halfback pass on a potential game-tying two-point conversion and Alex Childers broke off a 52-yard score to cap the Knights’ wild 49-40 win over previously-unbeaten George Washington.
On the two-point conversion, George Washington running back Jacob Jackson took a pitch then tried to flip a pass into the end zone, but Martin leaped into the air and corralled the pass to keep the Knights in the lead.
“We faced the same thing against Capital,” Cabell Midland coach Luke Salmons said. “We missed an extra point last week and were forced to go for two and didn’t get it. It sort of comes full circle.”
After recovering the onside kick, George Washington loaded the box against the run and Childers took a handoff and outraced the defense. Chris Heiner’s extra point — he was a perfect 7-for-7 — made it a two-score game and ended the threat of a comeback.
Martin’s interception thwarted a furious comeback by George Washington, who scored 26 unanswered points to be in position to tie the contest.
Childers caught a 30-yard touchdown pass from Cabell Midland running back-turned-quarterback Kasey Thomas with 9:47 left in the third quarter to make it 42-14 before the Patriots used Jackson and the ground game to chip away at the lead.
George Washington played without leading rusher Draven Riffe, one of the state’s leading rushers with more than 1,300 yards on the season. Despite the loss of Riffe, the offense caught stride in the second half behind Jackson and Austin Giacomo.
With nine minutes left in the contest, George Washington got possession trailing 42-27 and went strictly on the ground to get within a score.
After Jackson had garnered the Knights’ attention with a pair of long runs, Giacomo caught the Knights napping and walked in on a 22-yard reverse to pull within one score.
The Patriots got possession back with just less than three minutes remaining and needed just four plays before Jackson scored with 1:48 left to cut it to 42-40 before Martin’s interception.
The game’s pivotal play turned out to be a missed extra point as George Washington was crawling back into the contest. Jackson scored on a 6-yard run with three seconds left in the third quarter to make it 42-27, but Reed Deer’s extra point went wide to keep the deficit at 15.
Cabell Midland built a 35-14 halftime advantage on the strength of a ground attack that produced three 100-yard rushers in the contest.
One week after the Knights rushed for only 201 yards, Donte Hendricks led the way with 127 yards on 16 carries while Teran Barnitz added 109 yards and Thomas finished with 103.
Thomas switched from running back to quarterback for the Knights and the move worked out well as the Patriots had trouble stopping the rushing attack early on.
“All those guys are good runners so that gives us another option,” Salmons said. “He’s worked it for three years so he knows what to do. That’s a team player when he’s willing to move from running back to quarterback to help us.”
Just as big plays hurt the Knights in last week’s loss to Capital, they were Cabell Midland’s best friend Friday night.
Thomas opened the contest with a 64-yard run to set up Hendricks’ 1-yard score to open the game and the Knights’ defense got a big play when Justin Leggett intercepted Jon Alexander on the first play from scrimmage and returned it 26 yards for a score to make it 14-0 less than two minutes in.
After Alexander connected with Giacomo on a 32-yard touchdown pass to get the Patriots on the board, Hendricks ripped off a 67-yard touchdown run and Barnitz followed with a 71-yard score.
Hendricks later had an 11-yard run that made it 35-7 before Jackson ripped off a 55-yard run to set the halftime score. Jackson was the workhorse on the evening, finishing with 251 yards on 32 carries while scoring three touchdowns for George Washington, who was rated No. 2 in Class AAA, fell to 6-1 overall.
Giacomo only had five touches but three went for scores as he hauled in touchdown passes of 32 and 19 to go along with his 22-yard scoring run.
Alexander ended with 175 yards passing but only on 6-of-16 passing as Cabell Midland’s pressure disrupted his passing game. The Knights sacked Alexander 10 times in the win.
Class AAA No. 10 Cabell Midland (6-2) returns to action next week when the Knights travel to Spring Valley to take on the rival Timberwolves, who have won five straight after a win over Nitro.
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