The Voice of West Virginia
WHEELING, W.Va. — A year ago, Williamstown established a dominant ground game to open up a sizable first-half lead en route to a convincing win over James Monroe in the Class A final.
The Yellowjackets followed a similar script Saturday night in their third straight appearance in a state title game.
Williamstown rushed for 287 of its 390 yards over the first two quarters and scored 28 unanswered points to start the game, paving the way for the No. 3 Yellowjackets to top No. 4 Greenbrier West, 42-12, at Wheeling Island Stadium.
“We were going to come out and play physical football. That’s what we do and how we play,” Williamstown quarterback Maxwell Molessa said. “That’s how we were going to set the tone. We managed to do that and there was no looking back once we did.”
The result gives Williamstown (14-0) its second straight state championship and fourth in program history. Greenbrier West, making its first Super Six appearance in 10 years, finished 13-1.
WHS used a bend but don’t break defensive approach for much of the first half, surrendering 197 yards to the Cavaliers, but holding them scoreless for nearly 22 minutes.
“Our kickoff coverage wasn’t great, but we were able to get stops on our side of the field,” Yellowjackets’ head coach Chris Beck said. “We took away their pass game pretty well and they had to rely on their run game.”
Greenbrier West moved 49 yards on its first series, but it ended with Hayden Ridgeway missing a 28-yard field goal attempt.
The Yellowjackets then moved 80 yards in four plays, the last of which was a 59-yard touchdown run from Louis Goodnow. Molessa, who will begin a baseball career at West Virginia University next year, ran in the 2-point attempt to make it 8-0 with 7:40 to play in the first frame.
The Cavaliers got to the Williamstown 36 on their second possession, before Carson Haines came up with a diving interception at the Yellowjackets’ 2 on a pass thrown by Cole Vandall.
Although Williamstown was then backed up, that simply allowed Molessa to rip off a 98-yard TD run two plays later, with the signal-caller outracing the Cavalier defense to record the longest touchdown in Super Six history. Molessa found Goodnow on the 2-point pass, leaving GWHS with a 16-point deficit 7:15 into the matchup.
“We talked about seizing the moment, and every snap is a moment. Make this a moment you make a game-changing play,” Beck said. “I’m going to make the plays that changes the game. Carson made one and then you flip it around and give it to the best player in Class A and one of the best players in the state and he makes something happen.”
Greenbrier West head coach Kelly Vaughan felt that was the turning point.
“We moved the ball down the field and our kicker does a fantastic job, but he just missed it,” Cavaliers’ head coach Kelly Vaughan said. “That’s part of the game. Then [Haines] for Williamstown made a hell of an interception and Molessa took it a long ways to the house. That made it tough on us. He’s a great athlete.”
The Cavaliers’ third series came to an end when Vandall’s pass fell incomplete on fourth-and-11 from the Williamstown 38, and their deficit grew to 22 when Molessa reached the end zone on a 12-yard run on the second play of the second quarter.
Although Lynken Joy was stopped short on a 2-point rushing attempt, the Yellowjackets remained in complete control with a 22-0 lead 11:16 before halftime.
“Defensively, a great effort by our guys,” Beck said. “We heard a lot about their defense and they do a great job, but the 11 guys we have can play some ‘D’ too.”
Aiden Corbett sacked Vandall on fourth down to end the Cavaliers’ fourth series at the WHS 45, and two plays later, Joy added to the Yellowjackets’ scoring punch with a 48-yard touchdown run that made it 28-0.
After Greenbrier West turned the ball over on downs on a third straight series, the Cavaliers forced a punt and then produced their first points on Isaac Agee’s 25-yard TD run 2:04 before halftime.
The point-after try was blocked, leaving Williamstown with a 28-6 lead, though it failed to add to the advantage any in the opening half as time expired in the second quarter with the Yellowjackets in the red zone.
Any thought of a Cavaliers’ rally was put to rest on the opening series of the second half, which Williamstown used 15 plays to cover 65 yards, before making it 35-6 when Molessa threw an 8-yard touchdown pass to Cooper Martin on a fourth down slant with 4:31 remaining in the third.
Lynken Joy’s 16-yard touchdown run with 7:19 remaining marked the final WHS touchdown, before Greenbrier West reached the end zone a second time courtesy of Ethan Holliday’s 25-yard run.
In addition to completing 8-of-9 passes for 96 yards, Molessa rushed for a game-high 160 yards on 19 carries.
Over three Super Six appearances in his storied high school career, Molessa amassed 557 rushing yards and nine TDs on 61 attempts. He was his team’s Most Valuable Player on each occasion.
“We all saw why he’s a Division I athlete,” Vaughan said.
Saturday’s 98-yard TD run is a play he won’t soon forget.
“When I saw the gap, I had to blow through and when I did, there was no looking back,” Molessa said. “I gave it everything I did mainly for the line, because they blocked their butts off on that play and I was going to do everything I could to get in the end zone.”
Joy added 156 rushing yards on 20 carries as WHS racked up 486 total yards.
Greenbrier West never punted and finished with 282 yards. Moses Gray had a team-best 92 rushing yards on 11 carries, while Holliday and Agee added 79 and 60 yards, respectively, on seven attempts apiece.
Vandall completed only 1-of-11 passes in defeat.
“ How do we get to 42-12 when we do not punt the ball? That doesn’t make much sense,” Vaughan said, “but it is what it is.”
(Postgame “Round of Sound”)
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WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senator Joe Manchin says he’s been assured there will be no job cuts at the big U.S. Postal Service operation in South Charleston.
A Saturday evening statement from Manchin said he spoke with Postmaster General Louis DeJoy Saturday about the ongoing review of the Charleston Processing and Distribution Center (P&DC) located at Southridge.
Manchin said it was a productive call.
“The South Charleston facility will not have one single employee laid off, and instead deliver major investments to the facility to better meet the demands of the public and the market,” Manchin said. “I will continue to work with Postmaster General DeJoy to ensure these improvements will modernize and revitalize this critical lifeline and bring the highest level of service for the people of West Virginia.”
Manchin is encouraging residents to submit comments to the Postal service opposing any changes to the facility.
There are 800 people who work there. It’s the only mail processing facility left in West Virginia. Some of the options being discussed include moving some of facility’s work to two locations in Pennsylvania including one in Pittsburgh.
The union representing 500 postal workers at the Kanawha County facility have spoken out against the review, saying changes would slow down delivery times to those mailing items in West Virginia.
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VIENNA, W.Va. — An estranged husband shot and killed his wife and a man in Vienna Friday before killing himself in an Ohio hotel room about 10 hours later.
Vienna police said Stevie Roseberry, 46, of Belpre, OH, was found dead at a Comfort Inn in Bellefontaine, Ohio. U.S. Marshals and other authorities heard a single gunshot from Roseberry’s room as they closed in at around 2:15 a.m. Saturday.
Police had obtained a warrant charging Roseberry with killing his wife, Christy Roseberry, 43, of Vienna, and Thomas Platt, 45, of Parkersburg, Friday afternoon at around 4:40 p.m. Their bodies were found shot to death at a residence on 38th Street in Vienna.
Witnesses identified Stevie Roseberry as the suspect. Police said he traveled approximately 170 miles to Bellefontaine, Ohio, where he got a hotel room.
U.S. Marshals and local authorities attempted to make contact with Roseberry when they heard the shot.
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— By Wesley Shoemaker
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — For the first time in program history, West Virginia men’s soccer is advancing to the College Cup.
West Virginia used three goals from three different players to beat Loyola Marymount, 3-1, advancing to the Final Four of the NCAA Tournament for the first time in the 63-year history of West Virginia men’s soccer.
“It’s really, really, special. I said before when I first got the job, I meant it when I said it, I think we can win a national championship here. I wouldn’t have took the job if I didn’t think we had the platform and foundation to win a national championship,” West Virginia coach Dan Stratford said.
“I had to have a moment and let myself enjoy what we’ve achieved and where we are as a program right now and it’s everything,” Stratford added. “I’ve spent the better part of 20 years here in West Virginia now, which is wild. I never got to play in a game like that, so this is the next best thing.”
It was a quick start for the Lions (10-5-6), who scored less than 2 minutes in. They would press the Mountaineers out of the gate, with Steven Anderson finding the bottom right corner of the net to give LMU a 1-0 lead just 1:54 into the match.
“Transparency, it was a terrible start. That’s never the plan. To concede that early, not enough time has transpired to really see what it is they’re doing and how we need to adapt potentially,” Stratford said.
West Virginia (17-2-4) offered a quick response, getting its home crowd at Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium right back into things.
Luke McCormick tied the match less than 7 minutes later, receiving a pass from Otto Ollikainen on the outside of the 18-yard box and using his left foot to score his seventh goal of the season in the 9th minute.
“When we went 1-0 down, we just thought we need to win,” West Virginia’s Ryan Crooks said. “We know goals are coming to come and they did six minutes later.”
Goals continued to come, as WVU goalkeeper Jackson Lee found Sergio Ors Navarro, who then did the rest, dribbling past two Lion defenders, before scoring the Mountaineers’ second goal to give his team its first lead in the 16th minute.
The offenses then started to slow down. There were five combined shots the remainder of the first half, matching the same number of shots in the opening 15:34.
In the second half, West Virginia maintained its intensity.
The Mountaineers’ pressure allowed them to control majority of possession and they ultimately broke through for an insurance goal.
Yutaro Tsukada received a cross from Crooks, before he was 1-on-1 with the Lions goalkeeper. Tsukada won the battle, beating him to the near side of the net, and securing WVU a 3-1 advantage in the 67th minute.
“Today’s goal was thanks to this guy next to me (Crooks),” Tsukada said.
The Mountaineers did not let up, as the Lions mounted four more shots, with Lee having only to make one save on a ball that rolled straight to him.
This was West Virginia’s second time in the NCAA Quarterfinals in the last three years. In 2021, the Mountaineers lost to Georgetown.
“For whatever reason in my mind today, it would have felt like a failure if we hadn’t made the Final Four. It is a huge, huge, weight off my shoulders,” Stratford said.
“We’re in unchartered territories again. This is great, but I said there is an even shinier one waiting for us on Monday if we go about the next week to the level of professionalism and the way we approached this game. I don’t think anyone is content, I don’t think anyone is going to relax now. I think there is a really, really, exciting week ahead of us.”
West Virginia awaits the winner of No. 9 Clemson and No. 16 Stanford, which will be the Mountaineers’ opponent in the a national semifinal Friday in Louisville.
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— By David Walsh
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — A shocker at the Cam Henderson Center.
Marshall toppled Florida of the Southeastern Conference, 91-88, which will go down as one of the more impressive wins in program history regardless of conference affiliation.
The Thundering Herd (3-4) trailed 88-81 with 3-plus minutes left in the game. Marshall then closed on a 10-0 run to secure the victory Saturday.
Abby Beeman led Marshall with 24 points and 11 assists. Breanna Campbell added 19 points, Aislynn Hayes 18 and Mahagony Matthews 13.
“Exciting. This one’s going down in the books. We’d lost two in a row,” Matthews said. “Get this now and stay on the same page.”
Marshall prevailed without its leading scorer Roshala Scott (21-point average).
“We’re trying to figure things out,” first-year head coach Kim Caldwell said to explain the situation.
Beeman started the comeback with a basket with 3:13 left. CC Mays then made a layup, assist to Beeman, to cut the deficit to 88-85 with 2:45 left. Breanna Campbell connected on two free throws with 2:08 to go to get the Herd within one (88-87).
Campbell and Beeman came through at the foul line down to first take the lead and then preserve it.
Campbell hit two with 1:06 left to tie the game and then put the Herd ahead to stay at 89-88. Beeman knocked down two free throws with 22 ticks left to ice it. Florida kept coming up empty from the field at the wrong time and foul and hope the Herd missed throws, but didn’t.
“Hard to reflect on right now,” Beeman said. “It’s a great feeling. We just needed it now no matter who we played.”
This is Marshall’s first win over a Power 5 school since it beat Missouri in 2007.
“Happy with the effort, happy to get the win,” Caldwell said. “We got gritty when the score did not go our way. Just to get a win. Not too high, not too low. We have to keep doing it.”
Matthews, who is 6-foot-1, battled against taller Gators all day.
“6-4, 6-6, it’s hard,” Matthews said. “Tried to go into them. Got some shots blocked, just try to get the next one.”
Aliyah Matharu led Florida with 27 points and nine assists, while reaching the 1,000-point mark for her career. Leilani Correa contributed 23 for a career high. Ra Shaya Kyle, who is 6-foot-6, added 15 points and 11 rebounds for her fourth double-double this season.
Beeman made 8-of-18 shots, including 5-of-11 from behind the arc. She hit back-to-back treys to trim the deficit from 72-65 with 9:04 to play to 72-71 with 7:50 on the clock.
“I wasn’t shooting that well before this game,” Beeman said. “I knew I had to get better today to help the team. Just tried to get good looks at the basket. Everyone was a big shot. Didn’t look at the scoreboard. We had a lot of energy today. We knew we’d have play really hard.”
This was just Marshall’s second home game of the season. The Herd faces Salem at home on Monday, then plays three on the road before starting Sun Belt Conference action December 30 at Southern Miss.
This was the first time an SEC school played in Henderson Center since Kentucky in 2005. Marshall was coming off road losses to Wright State and Morehead State.
Florida (6-2) suffered its first road loss of the season.
“It helps when you get the shots,” Caldwell said. “We’ve got to find a way to do that on the road. It’s exciting. It’s bigger than us. We outworked them. Heart over height. We didn’t play scared. A lot of good things come out that way.”
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WHEELING, W.Va. — It took No. 3 Martinsburg more than a quarter to find its footing Saturday afternoon in the Class AAA title game against No. 5 Princeton at Wheeling Island Stadium.
When the Bulldogs did just early in the second quarter, they began to impose their will, and in turn, cruised to a 10th state championship.
Martinsburg scored four touchdowns in a span of seven offensive plays during a 28-point second quarter, allowing the Bulldogs to overcome a sluggish opening quarter and handle the Tigers, 57-13.
“We had a couple penalties in the first quarter that killed a couple drives,” MHS head coach David Walker said. “We just needed to settle in and play. Once we did that, we started clicking on all cylinders and things started rolling for us.”
The Bulldogs (13-0) improved to 10-4 all-time at the Super Six and have won 10 straight appearances in title games dating back to 2010.
The teams traded punts to start the contest, before the Tigers (12-2) struck first on Chance Barker’s 44-yard touchdown pass to Dom Collins, which left PHS with a 7-0 lead at the 7:34 mark of the opening quarter.
Making their first Super Six appearance, the Tigers’ strong start continued when they forced a turnover on downs on the second MHS possession.
Another exchange of punts followed, though the Bulldogs gained an advantage when Tyion Jacobs’ boot went 55 yards and was downed at the Princeton 6.
From that point forward it was all Martinsburg, which forced a punt to start its fourth series at the Tigers’ 40-yard line. Three plays later, Bulldogs’ quarterback Murphy Clement rushed for a 31-yard touchdown, though the point-after try was no good, leaving Princeton with a 7-6 lead 8:24 before halftime.
“We just didn’t come off the bus how we wanted to,” Clement said. “They showed up too and they wanted a championship just as bad as we did. We knew we had to basically grow up and finish the game out how we wanted to.”
Princeton elected to keep its offense on the field on fourth-and-1 from its own 29 on the ensuing possession, but Bulldogs’ defensive lineman Xerxees Yancey brought down tailback Marquel Lowe for a 4-yard loss.
Two plays later, Clement tossed a 21-yard touchdown pass to Kashez Gedeon, and the Bulldogs were on top to stay 4:43 before halftime. Koi Fagan’s successful 2-point run allowed MHS to lead 14-7, and Clement’s 48-yard rushing TD 31 seconds later enabled MHS to double its lead.
“The touchdown pass to Kash in the corner turned the game and helped us seal it the rest of the way,” Clement said.
Following another Princeton punt, Martinsburg needed three plays to produce its fourth touchdown, which came on Fagan’s 29-yard run and left the Tigers trailing by 21 with 1:48 to play in the half.
“It’s a big stage. We have a sophomore quarterback and a lot of sophomores out there playing,” PHS head coach Keith Taylor said.
Barker’s 51-yard touchdown pass to Collins on fourth-and-4 with 7 seconds left in the first half made it 28-13, which is where things stood at halftime after the Bulldogs blocked the point-after attempt.
“Dom Collins is a good player and we knew he’d make a few plays,” Walker said. “We wanted to try to minimize him and I wish we’d have done a little better job.”
While that gave the Tigers momentum heading into the intermission, it was short-lived when the second half began.
On the Bulldogs’ third offensive play of the second half, Clement ripped off a 45-yard touchdown run for a 35-13 lead.
Buzz Dover’s interception of a Barker pass enabled MHS to start at the PHS 12 with 8:42 to play in the third quarter, and three plays later, Fagan broke off a 12-yard touchdown run and ran in the 2-point conversion to make it 43-13.
Clement’s 15-yard TD run with 4:21 to play in the third left the Tigers with a 37-point deficit.
“He’s a great player and really showed it today,” Walker said of Clement. “He’s been really good all year, but today he really showed up ready to play. He’s a great kid that’s going to have a really good career somewhere, so I’m looking forward to seeing what the future holds for him.”
Clement’s 34-yard touchdown pass to Gedeon on the third play of the fourth marked the game’s final scoring play.
Martinsburg finished with all seven sacks in the game, leading to a loss of 56 yards for the Tigers. As a result, Princeton finished with 6 rushing yards on 24 attempts.
“We knew it was going to be tough to run the ball on them and we’re used to being able to run the ball at will,” Taylor said. “They kind of beat us up upfront. That was the biggest thing — their defensive line really dominated us and it put us in a bad situation.”
Clement rushed for 210 yards and four touchdowns on 14 carries. Nicholas Busky added 106 rushing yards on six tries, while Fagan accounted for 77 yards and a pair of scores on six totes. That trio was largely responsible for the Bulldogs rushing for 409 yards on 28 attempts.
Barker completed 15-of-32 passes for 262 yards, while Collins caught seven passes for 169 yards and was responsible for both Tiger touchdowns.
Clement was 6-for-13 with 82 yards. Gedeon totaled 67 receiving yards on four catches, half of which were TDs.
Rashad Reid had two sacks and three tackles for loss in the win, while EJ Hendrix also had two sacks.
Martinsburg finished with 11 TFLs to Princeton’s three.
“We’re good up front. It’s no big secret,” Walker said. “Those guys have played well all year. They’ve worked hard and I was glad to see them do well today.”
(Postgame “Round of Sound”)
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CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Manna Meal is moving its indoor meal services to a new location in Kanawha County.
The organization announced on Thursday that operations will resume at the former Garnet Career Center at 422 Dickenson Street.
“This move is a reflection of our dedication to ensure uninterrupted support of those facing hunger in our community as well as our unwavering commitment to treat those we serve with dignity and respect,” a Manna Meal spokesperson said.
Manna Meal Executive Director Amy Wolfe told MetroNews that it’s a relief to have acquired this location for their organization.
“I think that it’s important for the people that we serve, it shows dignity, it shows respect, and also I think it shows a great commitment that our community has for those in need,” Wolfe said.
Recently, two Manna Meal board members stepped down and indoor service was temporarily suspended after an arrest was made at a school near St. John’s Episcopal Church. Manna Meal had been only operating out of a food truck since the suspension.
Wolfe said their hope is be at the new location for as long as they need it.
She said they are grateful for the Garnet board in embracing their organization to allow them continue to provide sustenance for those in the community in need
“For the collaborative spirit of resilience, hope, and non-judgement that defines Manna Meal and continues to fuel what we do, our mission, so the hungry can eat,” she said.
Wolfe added that Manna Meal provides a life-sustaining mission through making meals accessible to everyone, as food nourishes and strengthens the body. She said this is something which no one should be denied
“I think in recent times, especially in the post-pandemic, we’ve seen how important that even is, I guess more so I should say, and everyone, regardless of circumstances deserves that and it’s a basic human right,” said Wolfe.
Starting Saturday, Dec. 2, breakfast will be offered from 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. and lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. daily at the former Garnet Career Center.
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COOLRIDGE, W.Va. — Austin Weis of Coolridge, West Virginia recently acquired a piece of property to hunt in Raleigh County. Soon after the purchase, he put out several game cameras in the summer. He couldn’t help but feel like he had purchased a little corner of deer hunter’s heaven when he saw the results.
He soon had pictures of several really nice bucks, including a massive 10-pointer which he decided was going to be the one he tried to take down during the 2023 bow season.
“I had pictures of the buck in velvet back in June and July. He disappeared for a month or two and then came right back in probably the end of September,” Weis explained in a conversation for West Virginia Outdoors.
The big buck became a regular at Weis’ trail cameras. You could almost set your clock by him every four or five days for a daylight appearance. Austin simply timed the appearances and was in his tree stand on opening day, ready for action.
Sure enough the buck rolled in as anticipated. It was a wide ten point buck. Austin saw the rack, waited for the shot, and let the arrow fly. It wasn’t until he tracked down the buck he realized it wasn’t the deer he was after.
“It was a main frame nine point. I had him on camera as well. When he stepped out of the woods I thought it was the bigger buck because I saw the side that had the five points,” explained Austin.
The opening day buck, the nine-pointer, wasn’t too shabby with a rough score estimate on his antlers of around 140 points. But he wasn’t the big ten-pointer Austin was after. That buck kept showing up regularly and so did Austin.
In late October he showed up as he always did and Austin was waiting for him. This time it was the right buck, but the wrong kind of luck.”
“I shot over his back and missed him. I was devastated by that,” he said.
The buck didn’t come near his stand again in the daylight hours for another week, but he was still coming in. When he finally showed up in the daylight, it was a frosty morning with temperatures dropping into the 20’s. The rut was starting to reach the fevered pitch. Trouble was, Austin was at work and the buck walked by his stand at 8:15 a.m.
“We’d been playing a game of hide and go seek and he was winning,” he said.
The very next day was another cold morning and this time. Austin made sure he was in the stand, which sits on the edge of a woodlot and also right along a power line right of way. A smaller buck and a doe milled around under his stand when he caught the first glimpse of the bruiser about 150 yards away on the other side of the right-of-way.
“He walked the edge of the field all the way up, about 150 yards, straight toward me. He never hesitated, the rutting activity was getting the better of him. He came straight in and started sparring with that eight point. Since I had 150 yards to get ready, I was ready when he got there. He was facing me, but I waited and he turned right and gave me a perfect broad side shot,” said Austin
This time, Austin’s aim was on the money and the arrow hit both lungs. The buck ran about 10 yards out into the right-of-way, stopped, and keeled over. He died right there within site of Austin’s stand.
The buck had ten points and an oddity on his right antler.
“He had a 24 inch inside spread and a knot on the right side from a warble when it was in velvet. It’s a spidery looking knot and the main beams were about 12-inches,” he said.
Although Austin’s property is largely inaccessible, the buck’s range would have likely taken him far and wide, particularly during the rut. Austin just had a feeling if he didn’t get him when he did, the big fellow probably wouldn’t have survived buck season. Needless to say, Austin has no buyer’s remorse on his new hunting property in Raleigh County.
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(Story by Luke Wiggs)
MORGANTOWN, W.Va — Propelled by a career-high 24 points by Joel Soriano, St. John’s defeated West Virginia 79-73 at the Coliseum Friday night in the Big 12/Big East Battle.
WVU (3-4) hit five of their first seven shots from the field to jump out to a 19-13 lead. Quinn Slazinski buried a 3 at the 14:19 mark in the first half and then was fouled attempting a triple. He made all three attempts to make it a six-point advantage.
Soriano converted a 3-point play with 12:15 left in the half to bring the Red Storm (5-2) within a basket. The teams then combined for a scoring drought of 3:40 before Soriano again scored, with a pair of free throws to tie the game at 22. The squads missed 13 consecutive field goal attempts until Chris Ledlum buried a 3 to make it 25-22 St. Johns with 7:44 left in the first half.
West Virginia’s drought ended after 6 minutes and 43 seconds of game time with a Jesse Edwards dunk with just over six minutes left in the first period. The game was tied at 36 at the half. Ledlum (13) and Soriano (17) combined for 30 of the Red Storm’s points.
Mountaineer center Jesse Edwards picked up his third foul 90 seconds into the second half, limiting him to just nine minutes in the half.
The teams combined for 20 points through the first four minutes of the half, before another scoring drought. This drought lasted three minutes, until Jordan Dingle hit a triple to make it 50-45 Red Storm with 13:14 left in the game.
Trailing 63-54 with 5:55 left, West Virginia scored 7 of the next 9 to cut the lead to 4 and prompted a St. Johns timeout.
WVU once again found momentum when Ledlum fouled out of the game with 2:43 remaining, Slazinski made the basket and the free throw and West Virginia trailed 69-66.
Unfortunately for West Virginia, Edwards fouled out on the ensuing possession. He finished the game with 15 points.
“It’s huge from a rebounding perspective.” WVU head coach Josh Eilert said about losing his center. “You try to clean the glass up with the guys we have out there. They fought like heck.”
“I picked up a couple of stupid ones (fouls), then when you get an unlucky call or an actual foul it adds up.” Edwards said. “It takes away from my minutes and from the team, so I’m frustrated with that for sure.”
Trailing by five, Ofri Naveh went to the line with 43 seconds left. Naveh missed the seconnd free throw leading to a St. Johns rebound and Naheim Alleyne corner three to seal the game.
In the loss, the Mountaineers shot 40% from the field, finding just 12 second chance points to St. Johns’ 26.
“We gave up 18 offensive rebounds to a team like that, give them 26 second chance points.” Eilert said. “You’re not going to have a chance to win that game. We really did.”
Josiah Harris (10), Kobe Johnson (14), Edwards (15), and Slazinski (19) all finished in double figures for West Virginia. WVU finished with just 6 assists on 19 made field goals.
“Six assists, some guards average that. That’s what we had tonight. It’s just not sustainable. We try to score and create everything one-on-one.” Eilert said. “Six assists, 12 turnovers, consequently, they had 15 assists on six turnovers. Two-point game with two minutes to go, regardless of saying all that.”
Soriano finished with a career high 24 points and 9 rebounds, Ledlem had 17 points and 10 boards for St. Johns.
“This is a tough place to play,” said St. Johns head coach Rick Pitino. “We’re coming away with a six-point victory. It’s a great victory”
WVU returns to the Coliseum to take on Pitt on Wednesday.
WHEELING, W.Va. — Fairmont Senior had won 20 straight games against North Marion ahead of Friday’s Class AA final at Wheeling Island Stadium.
It’s safe to say the Polar Bears’ 21st consecutive victory over the Huskies will be the one most remembered in the lengthy series history between Marion County rivals.
Dylan Ours recorded his Super Six record sixth rushing touchdown from 5 yards with 51 seconds remaining, and the Polar Bears overcame a sensational 28-yard touchdown catch from the Huskies’ Landon Frey by coming up with a stop on the 2-point attempt to prevail, 49-48.
“We handled adversity and stayed the course,” Polar Bears’ head coach Nick Bartic said. “Ultimately you have to stay the course in a big-time game like this and handle that adversity. It comes down to the second-to-last play on a two-point stop and what a back-and-forth battle that was.”
It marks the fourth state championship in six seasons for No. 2 Fairmont Senior, which finishes 11-2.
With the game tied at 42, the No. 1 Huskies (1-2) had possession with inside 3 minutes remaining, before an option pitch play resulted in the Polar Bears’ Gavin Michael recovering it at the NMHS 25 with 2:04 left.
Four plays later, Ours worked his way into the end zone for the sixth time, something Hays suggested his defense allowed in an effort for the Huskies to get the ball back.
That decision paid off as NMHS quarterback Casey Minor completed two 9-yard passes, a 7-yard pass and ripped off a 7-yard run, which combined with a personal foul penalty on the Polar Bears, positioned the Huskies at the FSHS 28.
From there, Minor lofted a well-placed pass down the sideline to Frey, who came up with a memorable one-handed snag and managed to get two feet in bounds. The play was originally ruled incomplete, before being overturned on review.
“He does that every day,” Hays said. “His ball skills are absolutely phenomenal and how he doesn’t have three or four Division II offers is beyond me.”
That enabled North Marion to trail by one with 14 seconds left, and Hays’ only intention was to go for two and the win.
North Marion’s offense lined up and tried to draw the Polar Bears offside, before calling a timeout. The Huskies stuck with the decision to keep their offense on the field, but a slightly high snap to Minor resulted in a slower developing play and the Huskies’ quarterback got a later than anticipated start before being stopped 1 yard short of the goal line.
“We came up a yard short and they made a play,” Hays said. “The quarterback-center exchange wasn’t clean and probably kept us out, but we played lights out all night.”
“It’s 100 percent the right call,” Bartic said. Fortunately, we were prepped for it coming out of the timeouts.”
Fairmont Senior recovered the ensuing onside kickoff to preserve the win.
The teams traded scores throughout, with the Polar Bears gaining the first lead courtesy of a 1-yard Ours touchdown run.
North Marion got even at 7 with 1:49 to play in the first quarter when tailback Aaron Hoffman outraced the FSHS defense for a 25-yard TD run. The Huskies’ first of seven touchdown was directly set up by Josh Holden’s interception of a Brody Whitehair pass that allowed NM to start the Polar Bears’ 36.
In the second quarter, Logan Canfield intercepted Minor, and it led to Ours’ 3-yard scoring run, though that was immediately answered by Hoffman’s second TD on a 39-yard run, leaving the teams tied at 14 with 6:05 left in the first half.
Whitehair’s 64-yard pass to Cannon Dinger allowed the Polar Bears to regain the lead at 21-14 with 4:05 left in the half, but the Huskies countered with an 11 play, 80-yard drive that was capped by Minor’s 3-yard TD run 23 seconds before halftime.
“There were a lot of great plays in this game on both sides. That’s the caliber of dudes you have playing in this game,” Bartic said.
By managing the clock well, North Marion kept the game tied at 21 and put itself in position to take its first lead in the third quarter as a result of the Huskies receiving the opening second-half kickoff.
North Marion did just that on Hoffman’s 10-yard TD run 4:43 into the third quarter, which came three plays after Minor broke off a 16-yard run on fourth-and-8 from the FSHS 20.
The Polar Bears responded to their first deficit in just the fashion Bartic desired, marching 72 yards in 11 plays and getting even at 28 on Ours’ 1-yard TD run on fourth-and-goal at the 1:57 mark of the third.
Although Fairmont Senior forced a punt on North Marion’s next series, the Huskies immediately got the ball back as a result of Dylan Higgins recovering Dinger’s muffed punt.
Two plays into the fourth quarter, Minor’s 17-yard touchdown run allowed North Marion to lead 35-28.
But Fairmont Senior bounced back with a nine play, 67-yard drive that featured all runs and ended with Ours scoring on a 2-yard run.
The Polar Bears kept it on the ground for 29 of their 30 offensive plays after halftime.
“It was working, so we continued to do it,” Bartic said. “They were running it pretty well against us and we figured why don’t we try that, too? Whatever you have to do to win at this point.”
The Huskies then faced fourth-and-3 on their 27, and Hays’ gutsy call paid off when Brock Martin took off for a 5-yard run on a fake punt.
Hoffman followed with runs of 43 and 25 yards, the latter of which was good for a go-ahead touchdown with 5:08 remaining.
“He obviously has next level speed. He was phenomenal tonight and he sees it well,” Hays said. “I don’t know how because he only had one eye about halfway through the game. That’s what he came out for. His eye was all swollen and he got up poked in the eye pretty bad. He really showed some big boy britches. We moved people all night and we were really good offensively.”
But the Huskies had no luck slowing down the Polar Bears, who answered immediately with a 73-yard drive and got even at 42 on Ours’ 1-yard TD run.
“We did a good job all night facing adversity. We hurt ourselves in a few areas, but we recovered every time. I’m proud of everybody on the team,” Ours said.
All six of Ours’ rushing touchdowns came with the versatile offensive weapon taking the snap under center.
“That play we call Kelce. It’s the same thing the tush push does for the Philadelphia Eagles,” Ours said. “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it.”
Ours rushed for 188 yards on 27 attempts and Whitehair added 88 rushing yards on 14 carries. Whitehair also completed 9-of-15 passes for 169 yards, while Dinger led all players with 70 receiving yards.
Hoffman rushed 22 times for 233 yards and Minor added 141 yards on 21 attempts. The Huskies’ signal-caller completed 8-of-19 passes for 113 yards in defeat.
Cam Peschl converted all seven of his point-after kick attempts in the win, while North Marion’s Brady Anderson was 6-for-6 on PATs.
“If they’d have won this one, it kind of equals out those 20 losses,” Bartic said. “Our guys had to stay mentally ready all week knowing they’re a championship-caliber football team. It had to be ultimate focus, we had to overcome adversity and I’m proud of the championship effort.”
(Postgame Round of Sound)