By Jason Perry
For the Daily News
GLEN HAYES – The Tolsia Rebels’ lost their football home opener in a hard fought game to Mingo Central Friday night, 20-19, at Wilts Salmons Athletic Field.
Down by one point with less than 30 seconds left in the game, sophomore quarterback Blake Rose found Brandon Ward in the middle of the defense for a quick pass that Ward stretched into a 20-yard gain before the Miner defense drove Ward out of bounds at the 10-yard line.
Without any timeouts left, Rose spiked the ball to kill the clock and give Tolsia one more chance at the end zone.
The kicking team came on the field led by kicker Cody Salmons with less than 10 seconds left.
Before Salmons and the Rebels could set up for the field goal attempt, Mingo Central called a timeout in a bid to “ice” him. When play resumed the Miners were called for encroachment, moving Tolsia five yards closer and the field goal became the distance of an extra point.
Salmons gave the ball a good, strong kick that sailed quickly up to smack against the hands of a Miner defensive lineman who had knifed through the offensive line into the backfield. Stevie Hammonds and Cody Blankenship squeezed through to block the field goal attempt.
Mingo Central followed up by taking a knee to run out the clock.
“We played hard,” Rebels Coach Mike Smith said, “But we have to work on getting better.
“We have to work on and learn how to win.”
Both teams looked to be equal in the stats category with a few minor differences. The Rebels racked up 154 yards on the ground with Jennings Holland leading all rushers with 67 yards on 13 carries and a touchdown. Rose showed he was mobile with 38 yards on four carries and was only caught for a loss once in the game. Luke Presley also finished with 36 yards.
The Tolsia defense held Mingo Central to 94 yards on the ground, and for the most part was able to keep the Miner passing attack in check except for two passing plays that were more than 30 yards.
The Miners drew first blood in the first quarter after a 13-yard off- tackle by Chase Justice.
Tolsia answered on the next series with a 10-play, four-minute drive capped by a one-yard dive by Ward into the end zone.
Mingo Central scored once more before the end of the half on a short run by Dakweon Willis.
The Miners were still riding the momentum on the opening kickoff of the second half when Deonte Joplin fielded the ball and took off to the races for a 73-yard return to put Tolsia down, 20-7.
The Rebels answering drive ended after two plays with a fumble recovered by the Miner defense.
Mingo Central didn’t have an opportunity to capitalize on the turnover as two plays later, Tolsia’s “Orange Crush” defense forced a fumble along the sideline on a Justice run that had went ten yards.
Presley scooped up the loose ball and scampered into the end zone for a 39-yard return.
The issues with the kicking game reared its ugly head as Salmons’ extra point attempt appeared to be good, but was ruled wide right by the officials.
The Rebels scored once more in the fourth, when they rode the legs of Holland into the end zone on a 17-yard touchdown run.
Again, Salmons was sent in for the extra-point. The ball went through the uprights and looked to be good, but the officials again said otherwise.
Tolsia showed to be the more disciplined team, only tallying three penalties for 21 yards while the Miners had seven for 60.
The Rebels are now 0-2 on the season. They go back on the road next Friday against the Sissonville Indians. The game is set for 7:30 p.m.
Mingo Central will hit the road again, this time a longer trip as they head north to take on Webster Springs.
Score by quarters:
Mingo …6 6 8 0 – 20
Tolsia … 7 0 6 6 – 19
MC – Justice 13 run (kick failed)
TR – Ward 1 run (Salmons kick)
MC – Willis 1 run (run failed)
MC – Joplin 73 return (Justice run)
TR – Presley 39 fumble return (kick failed)
TR – Holland 17 run (kick failed)