Pioneers blaze trail through Mingo Central
By Kyle Lovern
RED JACKET – The defending Class 2AA state champion Wayne Pioneers blazed a trail through Mingo County and defeated the Miners 40 to 12 Friday night at Buck Harless Stadium.
Wayne came into the game ranked No. 3 with a 27 game winning streak and they are the team to beat in the Cardinal Conference.
The Pioneers normally use their outstanding running game, however in the first half they went to the passing game to take the early lead.
You have to credit the Mingo Central squad, who went toe to toe with one of the best football programs in the state. The Miners only trailed 13-0 at halftime and made several good defensive stands against the Pioneers.
They just could not get their offense into gear.
Wayne got the opening kickoff and two pass plays later quickly scored the first touchdown of the game. Quarterback Grant Ferguson connected with Zach Rice. Drew Stamper booted the extra point to make it 7-0. The drive went 59 yards on passes of 28 and 31 yards.
After a 3-and-out by Mingo Central, Wayne took over again. This time Ferguson was intercepted by Miner’s senior Alex “Booger” Lee, which stopped any threat by Wayne.
Mingo’s offense showed some punch with an 11-play drive which ate up a lot of the play clock in the first quarter as they moved the ball deep into Pioneer territory. However, they were not able to hit pay-dirt and Wayne took over on downs.
The game continued to be hard-hitting.
In the second quarter, sophomore Deonte Joplin recovered a Wayne fumble, which excited the hometown crowd. Unfortunately, on the very first offensive play by Mingo Central, they fumbled it right back to Wayne.
The Pioneers had good field position with taking the ball over on the Miner’s 20 yard line. Two plays later Ferguson hit Cody Stiltner on a 15-yard TD pass. The conversion try was no good, but the visitors led 13-0 with 6:20 remaining in the half.
Once again Mingo showed some spark on offense as quarterback Stevie Hammond hit Nathaniel Abbott on a nice first down paw to the 40 yard line. However, Wayne turned up the defensive pressure and stalled the Miner drive. Wayne took over on the 40 yard line, but the MCHS defense had another fine stand to keep the Pioneers in check.
With 9:45 to go in the third quarter, Wayne’s Zack Rice capped a 5-play drive with a 12 yard touchdown run. The TD was set up on a nice run by fullback Mason Hodge. The score gave Wayne a 20-0 lead.
With 3:25 left in the third quarter, Nathan Spurlock scored on a 10 yard TD run. Stamper’s kick made it 27-0, which is how the score stood heading into the final quarter.
That’s when Mingo Central showed it still had a little fight left. Hammond threw a strike to Lee for a 25 yard touchdown. The conversion failed, but the Miners had their first score of the night.
On Wayne’s first play they coughed the football up and Mingo’s Justin Parker recovered. Then lighting struck twice in the same place as Hammond hit Lee again on another beautiful TD pass – this one went 28 yards and the Miners had some life. The conversion pass failed, but the score was 27-12 and Mingo showed Wayne that they were not about to quit.
However, the Pioneers took the first play from scrimmage after the ensuing kickoff to the end zone as Ferguson made a great fake and kept the ball rushing to pay-dirt from 60 yards out.
At that point, the game saw three touchdowns in just 25 seconds of play.
Wayne turned up the heat after that as Cody Stiltner scored a TD with 9:21 left in the game. Stamper’s kick made it 40-12 and that is what the scoreboard showed when the final seconds ticked off the clock.
Hammond ended up 13 of 23 passing for 151 yards and an interception. Lee caught five passes for 64 yards and a pair of TDs. Mingo Central ended up with 229 total yards of offense. The running backs were held in check. Joplin, Chase Justice, Chance Lester and Dekwon Willis had a few good runs, but could never break free of the tough Wayne defense.
Wayne finished with 346 total yards on offense. Ferguson had 75 yards on the ground, while Hodge rolled up 78.
The Pioneers did turn the ball over four times to Mingo Central, one interception and three fumbles. They had only one turnover for the season coming into the game with the Miners.
Mingo Central, who was ranked No. 11 in the SSAC this past week, is now 3-2 on the season. They will travel to Poca Friday for another conference game.
Wayne is now 5-0 and will play host to conference foe Scott this weekend.
Score by quarters:
Wayne (5-0) … 7 6 14 13 - 40
Mingo (3-2) …. 0 0 0 12 - 12
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