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HUNTINGTON — Huntington High left no doubt.

The top-ranked Highlanders defeated No. 5 Cabell Midland 37-15 in the Class AAA high school football state semifinals at Bob Sang Field Friday night in front of more than 4,000 spectators. HHS (13-0) advances to the state championship game at noon Saturday, Dec. 4, vs. No. 2 Martinsburg (12-1) at Wheeling Island Stadium.

In a 21-17 victory over the Knights (11-2) on Sept. 10, Huntington High won despite being outgained 399-185. The Highlanders left no room for would’ves, could’ves or should’ves from Cabell Midland this time, totaling 380 yards to Cabell Midland’s 325 and controlling the contest from midway through the first quarter on.

“I thought, No. 1, all we ever hear about is how athletic Huntington High is,” HHS coach Billy Seals said. “I don’t think we ever get the credit for our physicality. I thought we won the line of scrimmage tonight. To be honest, I thought we wore them out up front.”

The Highlanders averaged 6.4 yards per carry, with quarterback Gavin Lochow gaining 113 yards and scoring three touchdowns on 15 attempts. The junior also completed 10 of 17 passes for 225 yards and two touchdowns. Noah Waynick caught four passes for 116 yards and one touchdown.

“Our line dominated both sides of the ball,” Lochow said. “Offensively, gaps were open and I had tons of time (to throw). Defensively, blew them up in the backfield. Our line won this game.”

The revenge-minded Knights appeared early as if they’d dominate. Cabell Midland stopped the Highlanders on downs to open the game, then scored on the second play from scrimmage as Jackson Fetty ran 52 yards to the end zone. Olivia Charles’ extra point made it 7-0.

Huntington rallied quickly, tying it on an 8-yard run by Lochow around left end and Jonathan Aya-Ay’s kick. The Highlanders then stopped the Knights on downs and two plays later Lochow threw an 80-yard touchdown pass to Waynick for a 13-7 advantage.

Lochow threw a 26-yard TD pass to Zha Zha Jackson at 6:22 of the second quarter, and Aya-Ay added a 34-yard field goal 16 seconds before halftime to make it 23-7.

Cabell Midland climbed back in it, driving 63 yards on eight running plays, with quarterback Ryan Wolfe scoring on a 19-yard sprint. Wolfe threw a 2-point conversion pass to Chandler Schmidt to make it 23-15.

An unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the Knights was assessed on the ensuing kickoff and Huntington High took advantage, starting at the Cabell Midland 45. Four plays later, Lochow raced 23 yards around right end for a touchdown to make it 30-15.

The Knights came back strong, using a 13-play drive to the Highlanders’ 32, but were stopped on downs.

Lochow added a 27-yard TD jaunt with 7:22 to play to set the score.

“We had more opportunities,” Lochow said of how this game was different from the first meeting. “The defense got a lot more stops. The offense, everything was clicking. The line was making their blocks; the receivers were making plays.”

Linebacker Tyrees Smith said he and his teammates were tougher this time than in the first meeting.

“We worked hard all week,” Smith said. “We made sure we were real physical.”

Running back Curtis Jones said Huntington High came in confident of victory.

“This time we came in with a mentality,” Jones said. “We weren’t overthinking. The scout team helped us prepare. So did our coaches. Seventy-five percent of it was our mentality.”

Fetty finished with 136 yards on 24 carries. Wolfe ran 19 times for 126 yards.

CABELL MIDLAND 7 0 8 0 — 15

HUNTINGTON HIGH 13 10 7 7 — 37

CM — Fetty 51 run (Charles kick)

HH — Lochow 8 run (Aya-Ay kick)

HH — Waynick 80 pass from Lochow (kick failed)

HH — Jackson 26 pass from Lochow (Aya-Ay kick)

HH — Aya-Ay FG 34

CM — Wolfe 19 run (Schmidt pass from Wolfe)

HH — Lochow 23 run (Aya-Ay kick)

HH — Lochow 27 run (Aya-Ay kick)

Team statistics

CM HH

First downs 17 12

Rushes-yards 52-322 24-155

Passes 1-3-0 10-17-0

Passing yards 3 225

Total yards 325 380

Fumbles-lost 4-2 0-0

Penalties-yards 6-45 5-55

Punts 1-26.0 1-50.0

Individual statistics

Rushing: Cabell Midland — Fetty 24-136, Wolfe 19-126, Moran 6-45, Schmidt 13-15; Huntington High — Lochow 15-113, Harrell 1-2, Jones 1-2, Jackson 2-9, Felder 5-27.

Passing: Cabell Midland — Wolfe 1-3-0, 3 yards; Huntington High — Lochow 10-17-0, 225 yards.

Receiving: abell Midland — Moran 1-3; Huntington High — Waynick 4-116, Arthur 2-37, Felder 1-35, Harrell 2-29, Jackson 1-26.

Tim Stephens is a sports writer with The Herald-Dispatch.

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