Wayne wins, goes back to Wheeling
WAYNE -- Missing its two leading rushers on offense, for the first time in 2012, Wayne looked vulnerable as it entered the Class AA semifinals.
But, that's when great teams step forward to fill the gap.
Junior Nathan Spurlock ran for a 212 yards in his first start at running back while Grant Ferguson and James Egnor combined for 202 more as the reigning champion Pioneers beat No. 4 Robert C. Byrd, 18-0, to advance to the Class AA title game.
Wayne will play No. 2 Keyser (12-1) in the AA state championship game Friday at 7:30 p.m. at Wheeling Island Stadium.
Robert C. Byrd was held to just 55 yards of total offense.
"It was a great Wayne victory and a great Wayne effort," Pioneer coach Tom Harmon said.
Brandon Spurlock, Wayne's leading rusher and a Kennedy Award contender for state player of the year, did not play after a leg injury sustained in last week's win over Nicholas County. Mason Hodge was limited to defense only after suffering a leg injury in the same win.
But Nathan Spurlock and a dominating performance from the offensive line helped ensure his older brother would at least put on a Wayne jersey one more time.
"I would say brothers had some conversations about whether Brandon would get to play again. I had no doubt what kind of effort Nathan would put into it," Harmon said. "The kid's got a heart the size of a lion. He and James Egnor and Grant Ferguson took up some of the slack in our running game."
"He (Brandon) inspired me a lot this week," Nathan Spurlock said. "He told me to just keep my head up and keep going, and don't underestimate yourself at all. I just kept going."
The Pioneers (13-0) ground out 485 yards of total offense, including 436 on the ground. Robert C. Byrd ran 23 times for 17 yards as a team, a number made more staggering by the fact the Eagles were only sacked one time, for no gain.
"Defensively, we were just sterling. We took away everything they wanted to do," Harmon said. "We didn't let them to push us around up front, even though we were outsized by 40 to 50 pounds per man."
Simply put, Wayne owned the line of scrimmage.
"It's hard to get to the point where you can the fast stop a team like that," senior two-way lineman Anthony Bryant said. "We did it. We did what we were supposed to do."
After failing to score on its opening drive for just the second time all season, Ferguson put Wayne on the board first with a 13-yard keeper and a 6-0 lead in the first quarter. Wayne ground out another clock-eating drive in the second quarter, capped by Kurt Langdon-Arthur's 5 yard sweep and a 12-0 advantage.
And while Egnor's first 13 carries netted just 15 yards, the senior saved his best for late in the game, running for 76 yards on his last five attempts, including a 36-yard scoring run with 7:57 to go that was effectively the dagger.
The Eagles (11-2) ran just four plays from scrimmage in the fourth quarter.
ROBERT C. BYRD 0 0 0 0 -- 0
WAYNE 6 6 0 6 -- 18
W -- Ferguson 13 run (run failed)
W -- Langdon-Arthur 5 run (run failed)
W -- Egnor 36 run (run failed)
First Downs 5 22
Rushes-yards 23-17 60-436
Passing 6-15-1 2-6-0
Passing yards 38 49
Total offense 55 485
Fumbles-lost 1-0 2-2
Penalties-yards 5-54 10-90
Punts 7-41.0 2-46.5
RUSHING -- RCB: D'Anunnzio 12-24, Cox 8-3, Taylor 1-0, Garrett 1-(-1), Team 1-(-9). WAY: N. Spurlock 25-212, Ferguson 12-111, Egnor 18-91, Langdon-Arthur 4-24, Team 1-(-2).
PASSING -- RCB: Taylor 6-14-1, 38 yards; D'Anunnzio 0-1-0. WAY: Ferguson 2-6-0, 49 yards.
RECEIVING -- RCB: Hill 1-24, D'Anunnzio 3-12, Compton 1-10, Cox 1-(-8). WAY: Cassidy 1-43, Damron 1-6.