Wahama rallies past Clay-Battelle, 49-27

Gary Clark Special to OVP

November 18, 2013

POINT PLEASANT, W.Va. — Eighth ranked Wahama certainly made a gigantic bid to win a 2013 Oscar for best performance Saturday Night at Point Pleasant High School for its dramatic rendition of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

The White Falcons played the role of Dr. Jekyll during the first half of its opening round playoff game with Clay-Battelle by rushing for only 53 yards before assuming the role of Mr. Hyde during second half action with Wahama rushing for 348 yards over the final two quarters to advance to quarterfinal round action following a 49-27 win over ninth rated Clay-Battelle.

Coach Dave Barr’s gridders exploded for 35 points in the final period to turn a 19-14 lead into the 49-27 victory before a large turnout of White Falcon followers. Senior Kane Roush emerged as the star of the post-season outing with 195 yards on the ground and four touchdowns on the night but the Falcons All-Time career leader in scoring and rushing had plenty of co-stars in the exiting victory.

Colton Neal, Hunter Bradley and Wyatt Zuspan joined Roush in the spotlight as the Bend Area gridders did an about-face in achieving the post-season victory. Neal picked up 93 yards on the ground and delivered what might have been the spark that Wahama was waiting for with a fourth quarter, 49 yard run, to set up the go-ahead score while Bradley tossed a pair of touchdown passes after connecting on seven of nine aerials for 78 yards.

Zuspan added a game clinching 46 yard touchdown run and also came up with a five yard TD reception. However, as efficient as the senior quartet played, the real heroic effort may well have been the second half performance of the Bend Area teams’ interior line on both sides of the ball.

Seniors Tyler Nutter, Wesley Harrison, Lane Sparks, and Josh Haddox, along with junior Brent Larck and sophomores Jesse Hesson and Clayton Sines, kept battling the huge CeeBee front line that featured three players in the range of 300 pounds. That continued struggle swung into the Falcons favor with the end result being the key factor that was mainly responsible for the gigantic turnaround from the games’ first 24 minutes to the final two quarters.

Despite experiencing extremely more difficulty than they’re accustomed to Wahama pulled away from the talented Clay-Battelle team in the final quarter with a rash of big play possessions. The White Falcons scored seven touchdowns in the playoff encounter with five of those scores coming from beyond 25 yards.

The win increased the White Falcons record to 10-1 on the season and marked the fourth consecutive year the Bend Area team has put together a 10 win season. The playoff triumph enables Wahama to advance to quarterfinal round action later this week against last seasons’ championship game opponent, Madonna.

WHS has now won eight straight post-season contests on the turf at PPHS but must travel to Weirton at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday to battle the Blue Dons for the opportunity to advance to semifinal round playoff action.

“Our kids had a never say die attitude throughout the night, but we talked at halftime that the opportunity was there for us to show what we were made of,” a jubilant Barr said following his first playoff win as a head coach. “Clay-Battelle really got after us in the first half, but our kids answered the bell over and over again.

“We know it’s going to take a great effort next week, but we are really looking forward to the opportunity,” Barr said. “This is what we play for, and you don’t face any bad teams in the playoffs. We’re going to face a fantastic football team next weekend and find out what we are truly made of.”

Clay-Battelle concludes its 2013 grid campaign with an 8-2 slate but not before giving the White Falcons a real scare. Quarterback Tristan Haught, sophomore split-end/running back, Jarret Hockenberry and running back Trenten Dille enjoyed the fruits provided by the CeeBees huge interior line.

Haught threw for 179 yards and a touchdown with Hockenberry providing the visitors with a pair of touchdowns. Dille ran for a team high 119 yards and another score for Clay-Battelle but it was not enough as the Bend Area team came through in the clutch to emerge with the grid win.

Clay-Battelle gained an early 7-0 advantage with 6:35 to play in the opening quarter when Jacoby Steele carried the pigskin into the end zone from a yard out with Hunter Six kicking the point after.

Wahama was held scoreless throughout the first stanza before evening the count at 7-7 with 9:04 remaining in the half. Roush returned a CeeBee punt 39 yards to the Clay-Battelle 37 yard line and scored nine plays later when Bradley tossed the WHS speedster a 25 yard touchdown pass. Bradley made it a 7-7 affair after booting the point after.

Clay-Battelle regained its edge with just :24 remaining in the half with an 81 yard, 15 play drive. A 22 yard Haught pass to Hockenberry capped the series with the point after kick sailing wide leaving the CeeBees with a 13-7 halftime lead.

Wahama managed to gain its first advantage of the night on the first play of the third quarter. After receiving the second half kickoff the Falcons set up their offense at the 34 yard line. Roush received the handoff from Bradley and began a trek down the left sideline and after breaking a couple of tackles raced 66 yards for the six-pointer. Bradley booted the point after to give the White Falcons a 14-13 edge.

The score remained 14-13 throughout the remainder of the third canto and the stage was set for a wild finish over the final 12 minutes. Clay-Battelle drove 63 yards in 15 plays to retake the lead with 11:52 left to play after Hockenberry scooted into the end zone from two yards away. The two-point conversion pass was unsuccessful and the CeeBees looked as if it would take home the playoff win with a 19-14 advantage.

The next four minutes were simply unbelievable as Wahama initiated an incredible streak that resulted in four unanswered touchdowns. A 49 yard run by Colton Neal set the stage for a seven yard Roush run at the 11:16 mark was followed by another Roush touchdown on a 76 yard bolt with 8:32 to play.

Brandon Stewart got into the scoring act with a 25 yard run with 7:23 remaining before Wyatt Zuspan completed the unanswered Falcon scoring assault by hauling in a five yard pass from Bradley with 5:04 to play. Following the four consecutive WHS touchdowns Bradley ran one two-point conversion and kicked two more to suddenly give the White Falcons a comfortable 42-19 advantage.

In the final two minutes the two teams traded touchdowns with Trenten Dille going 16 yards for Clay-Battelle before Zuspan delivered a determined 46 yard run to conclude the incredible fourth period offensive demonstration by the White Falcons.

Dille was successful on the two-point conversion following the CeeBees final score with Bradley tacking on another PAT kick following Zuspan’s spirited run to make the final tally 49-27.

Wahama finished the contest with 479 yards in total offense with 401 coming on the ground and another 78 through the air. The White Falcons totaled 16 first downs, lost one of two fumbles and were penalized four times for 35 yards.

Clay-Battelle put together a ground attack the accumulated 219 yards on the ground and another 179 passing yards for an offensive total of 398 yards. The CeeBees tallied 23 first downs, had one pass intercepted and were penalized six times for 32 yards.

Clay-Battelle ran exactly twice as many offensive plays than Wahama with the visitors running an unheard of 84 plays on the evening with Wahama needing just 42 snaps.

“These seniors have made it to the state semis during their entire career, and another win makes them the first and only class to do it four times. I know they want to accomplish that,” Barr said. “It is a little sad that two great teams have to meet so early in the playoffs, but that’s the way it is. Hopefully, we can make the most of Saturday night and earn another spot in the semifinals.”

“Madonna is going to play us as hard as they can. They haven’t forgotten last year or that we’ve been fortunate to beat them the last two times we’ve played them. That’s got to be in the back of their minds somewhat,” Barr said. “Madonna has a good football team and a lot of pride, so I do know that they are going to give us their best effort.”