BLUEFIELD – The Mingo Central Miners returned home from historic Mitchell Stadium with a second round win after beating the Bluefield Beavers by a score of 35-22 on Friday night.
The Miners did what the Miners do best, against Bluefield, and that is play keep away with the ball. The (10-2) Miners held the ball for a total time of possession of 30:27 versus (9-2) Bluefield’s 17:28. This has been a great strategy for the Miners in both the first and second round of the playoffs, but pays off extra well for the Miners considering they seem to be able to almost score at will.
Bluefield was undoubtedly expected to be a tougher opponent than Summers County whom the Miners beat 68-28 in the opening round. The Miners did not break the 40 point mark in this game like they had in 9 previous contests during the season but walked away with the real prize which is advancement to the semi-finals of the playoffs to face the Tolsia Rebels. Who the Miners owe a bit of pay-back for handing them their first loss of the season back on Sept, 4.
The Miners drew first blood when quarterback Stephen Hammond punched in the first score from 1-yard out with 4:44 left to play in the first quarter. Jeremy Harrison added the extra point and the Miners took a 7-0 lead. Immediately after the Miners touchdown Bluefield’s Carlos Reed Ivy Jr. returned the kickoff for a 93-yard touchdown. Zacary Springman kicked the extra point through the goal posts and the score tied at seven.
The Miners worked hard on offense to get the ball down to the 4-yard line. The Miners were close enough to smell the end zone paint and senior running back Deonte Joplin crossed the goal line to put the Miners ahead by a score with 1:09 left to play in the first quarter. Harrison missed the extra point and the score stood at 13-7.
Mingo Central then picked up momentum by scoring 16 unanswered points as Hammond scored from 10-yards out, 1-yard out, and completed one two-point conversion pass to Dalton Sheppard then ran in a two-point conversion on his own to put the Miners ahead 29-7 with 4:23 left to play before halftime.
The Beavers gained some momentum back before halftime when Ashton Shaw recovered a Mingo Central fumble on the 25-yard line. Bluefield’s drive ended when Jamere Edwards broke a few tackles and rushed into the end zone from 16-yards out with 1:11 left to play before the half. The two-point conversion was stopped by the Miners defense but the Beavers had chipped away the Miners lead moving the score to 29-13.
Bluefield opened up the second half scoring when quarterback Jordan Smith connected with Latrell Collier for a 41-yard score down the right sideline. The two-point conversion failed but Bluefield cut the Miners lead to within 10 points at 29-19. Bluefield made an effort to keep cutting away the lead but had to settle for a 28-yard field goal by Springman with 7:52 left to play in the game to bring the score to 29-22.
The Miners gained composer, held onto the lead and added one more score with :45 left to play in the game when Hammond rushed in a 5-yard touchdown, Hammond could not complete the two-point conversion pass but the game ended with the Miners winning 35-22.
Mingo Central finished the game with 334-yards of total offense on 58 plays. The Miners only completed three of their six passes for 57-yards passing but dominated on the ground with 277-yards rushing. Bluefield accumulated 55 penalty yards on seven flags; the Miners only had four flags for 35 penalty yards. The Miners controlled the game by moving the ball efficiently and and picking up 12 first downs compared to Bluefield’s four.
Hammond kept control of the game and the ball by rushing 30 times for 152-yards and scoring four rushing touchdowns. Joplin rushed 22 times for 125-yards with one rushing touchdown. Stephen Whitt finished the game with only one reception but that catch went for a 51-yard gain. Caleb Lester led the Miners on defense with 7.5 total tackles, Taylor Thornsbury had 3.5 and Daniel Buchanan finished with 2.5.
Of Course now this means that the Miners will face the Rebels in the third round at Tolsia. The Rebels beat Herbert Hoover 54-0 on Friday, they have been on a roll all season. Mingo Central only lost to Tolsia by three points back in the regular season and one play could have easily given the win to the Miners.
Score by quarters:
Mingo: 13 16 0 6 – 35
Bluefield: 7 6 6 3 – 22
(William Plaster is the sports reporter for the Williamson Daily News, he can be reached at 304-235-4242 ext.2274 or at [email protected] or on twitter @sidplaster)