GLEN HAYES – The Mingo Central Miners suffered a heartbreaking loss Friday night at the hands of the Tolsia Rebels with a final score of 22-0 in the semi-final round of the Class 2A WVSSAC Playoffs.
The first meeting between these two teams showcased great talent from both sides, Southern West Virginia gathered in masses to watch what was believed to be the biggest match-up of the season. At kick-off the tensions were high and both teams were ready. The Rebels made the first strike after a short kickoff and some running work put them on the 4-yard line.
Tolsia quarterback Seth Mcmillion crossed the goal line on a quarterback sneak to put the first points on the board for Tolsia with 7:50 left to play in the first quarter. Jennings Holland rushed in the two point conversion and the Rebels took a 8-0 lead over the Miners.
The Miners offense took the field and made progress down field. Quarterback Stephen Hammond completed a big pass to Stephen Whitt and the Miners offense were putting yards behind them. The Miners offensive drive stalled just short of the end zone when the Miners were stopped on fourth down by the Rebel defense.
The game went back and forth defensively and the penalties began to creep in. With 9:52 left in the second quarter McMillion connected with tight-end Brian Campbell on a 28-yard touchdown throw that capped off an 87-yard offensive drive. The two point conversion was stopped and the Rebels held onto a 14-0 lead.
Tragedy struck the Miners on their next offensive drive when Hammond was injured during a play. The all-state quarterback would not return to the game and was taken off the field by ambulance. Senior running back Deonte Joplin was then moved to the quarterback position. Joplin threw one pass during the game and it was intercepted by Logan Presley from Tolsia. The Miners had lost the ability to throw the long ball and was forced to run most plays out of the wildcat formation, with Joplin at quarterback the rushing duties were split between Joplin, Caleb Lester and Taylor Thornsbury. The Miners were stopped on every possession after the fall of Hammond.
At Halftime the Rebels still had a 14-0 lead over the Miners. The hopes of the Miners historic season were looking low. This was the first time in school history that the Miners had made it to a semi-final playoff game.
The final score was made by Luke Presley on a 21-yard run with 4:36 remaining in the third quarter. Presley led the Rebels rushing attack with 153-yards on 25 carries.
Offensive Coordinator Joey fields said after the game, “Stevie got hurt and that really put us in a bad situation. Tolsia just wanted it more than we did, they played harder and fought harder. Anytime you beat a team twice in a row you deserve it, they deserve to play for a state championship.”
“Proud of our guys, they fought hard all season. This team will be remembered on the hill for what they have done. They fought really hard and I am proud of them, we are going to miss a lot of these seniors,” added Fields.
Mingo Central’s season is over and the Tolsia rebels will advance to face No. 1 Bridgeport at Wheeling in the Class 2A championship game.