Midland makes W.Va. title game
ONA -- Next stop for the Cabell Midland football team. ... Wheeling.
Kasey Thomas, David Gaydosz and Lowell Farley each ran for a touchdown in the second half to lead the Knights to a 35-28 win over Morgantown in a West Virginia Class AAA football semifinal game Friday night at Cabell Midland.
"I'm so proud of this football team," Knights coach Luke Salmons said, his shorts, shoes and jacket soaked after his happy team spilled a cooler full of water on him. "The best thing about tonight is everything came full circle. This is what we worked for and everybody stepped up."
No. 1 Cabell Midland (13-0) advances to the state title game Saturday, Dec. 1 at noon against No. 2 Martinsburg at Wheeling Island Stadium. The Bulldogs advanced with a 63-14 win over No. 5 George Washington at home Friday afternoon. They are seeking a third straight championship. Cabell Midland is making its first finals appearance after falling short in three previous tries.
Morgantown (10-3) used three big plays to take a 21-14 lead at the half. Shane Commodore sprinted 60 yards up the middle on the visitor's first snap to counter Cabell Midland's opening score. Commodore did the same thing last week in a 35-14 win at Huntington High.
Later, Morgantown linebacker Alex Weidman picked off a Coy Petitt pass and returned it 24 yards for a score and 14-0 first-quarter lead. The third big play was a 44-yard TD pass from Mark Johnson to Blaine Stewart who got behind the Knights secondary on an out an up pattern and 21-14 lead. At the half, the Knights had run 44 plays to 14 for Morgantown.
In the second half, Cabell Midland's adjustments on defense and a steady diet of Gaydosz, Thomas and Farley proved too much for the Mohigans.
Thomas scored on a 5-yard run on Cabell Midland's first possession of the third quarter to tie the game 21-21. Commodore, who lost a fumble at the Cabell Midland 9 in the first half, suffered a similar fate on the next possession. He got loose for 19 yards, but Tyler Hayes stripped the ball from him at the 8 and the Knights recovered and took over at their 4 (after a penalty).
On the next play, Gaydosz took a handoff over the left side, bounced outside and sprinted 96 yards down the left sideline for the go-ahead score. In the fourth period, after Morgantown turned the ball over on downs when a 14-play drive stalled at the Cabell Midland 16, the Knights covered 84 yards in seven plays to go up 35-21. Farley got the TD on a 1-yard run, but Gaydosz made it possible with a 69-yard dash off right tackle three playes earlier.
Gaydosz finished with 317 yards on 22 carries. He became the school's single-season rushing leader with just over 2,200 yards to go with 26 touchdowns.
"It's about the line," Gaydosz said of the offensive line who sprung the backs loose for 469 rushing yards. "It was tackle to tackle and we got the job done. We had to be patient. We knew we could break one. This is an awesome feeling."
After the game, Knights players ran along the fence on the home side of the field and high-fived with the happy fans.
"That was special," senior linebacker Nick Boone said.
Josh Baisden, senior and one of the big linemen up front, marveled again at the performance by Gaydosz.
"Oh my God," Baisden said. "Give him an inch and he makes plays. We're all excited. We're ready to go to Wheeling."
Salmons said Commodore's opening TD sprint didn't rattle his team.
"We settled down," he said. "These kids weren't going to lose. I've said from day one these kids have bought in what we feed them. There was nothing outside. It was tackle to tackle. They're a good team. We executed. There's no better feeling than this."
Hayes, a linebacker/end, said the defense came out determined in the second half.
"We let the leaders take over," he said. "After that first play (Morgantown TD), we calmed down and turned it around. This is a blessing. We have a lot to be thankful for."
Boone agreed with Hayes.
"We knew what was coming," Boone said. "They made some big plays, but we made the adjustments, lined up and played hard. We've been saying all year state is our goal. We set the bar high and we reached it, but we're not done."
MORGANTOWN 13 8 0 7 -- 28
CABELL MIDLAND 14 0 14 7 -- 35
CM -- Farley 5 run (Molina kick), 7:02.
M -- Commodore 60 run (DeBastini kick), 6:50.
M -- Weidman 31 interception return (kick failed).
CM -- Farley 1 run (Molina kick), 3:47.
M -- Stewart 44 pass from Johnson (Wolfley pass from Johnson), 6:53.
CM -- Thomas 5 run (Molina kick), 4:36.
CM -- Gaydosz 96 run (Molina kick), 1:00.
CM -- Farley 1 run (Molina kick), 3:43.
M -- Thomas 2 run (DeBastini kick), 0:22.9.
First downs 21 18
Total Net Yards 373 513
Passing 163 44
Comp-Att-Int 12-21-0 2-5-2
Fumbles-lost 3-2 1-0
Penalties-Yards 5-50 7-40
RUSHING -- Morgantown, Johnson 6-21, Commodore 15-149, Weidman 6-2, Thomas 9-38. Cabell Midland, Gaydosz 22-317, Petitt 2-6, Thomas 9-46, Farley 24-100.
PASSING -- Morgantown, Johnson 12-21-0, 163. Cabell Midland, Petitt 2-5-2, 44.
RECEIVING -- Morgantown, Commodore 4-47, Hockenberry 1-4, Thomas 1-13, Stewart 4-88, Wolfley 2-11. Cabell Midland, Thomas 1-30, Farley 1-14.