RED JACKET – For the second straight year Mingo Central will advance to the Class AA semi-finals after a hard fought 32-8 win over Keyser on an unseasonably warm Friday night at Harless Stadium high up on Miner Mountain.
The Golden Tornado (8-4) came in with a solid reputation. The only other time the teams met was back in 2011, the first time ever the Miners made the playoffs. Keyser won that contest easily, 61-12.
But this was a different Mingo Central (12-0) team and a much stronger program in the school’s sixth season after consolidation.
This was expected to be one of the Miners’ toughest games of the season. But that was to be expected. This was the quarter finals of the state playoffs.
Every time Mingo Central scored a touchdown, fireworks lit up the night sky – and senior running back Joe “The Runaway Coal Truck” Hunt helped to keep the firefighters busy. The stocky Hunt rushed for 190 yards and scored three rushing TDs and he also caught a screen pass and bulled over the Keyser secondary for another score.
Mingo Central struck first with 8:24 left in the first quarter. The Miners, behind the running of Hunt and the passing of junior quarterback Jeremy Dillon, scored the first TD as Hunt hit paydirt from four yards out. The kick was no good, but the home team took a 6-0 lead.
With 2:22 left in the initial quarter, Dillon connected with Tyler Grimmett for a 27 TD pass. Billy Mitchem kicked the extra point to give MCHS a 13-0 advantage.
The Golden Tornado were able to move deep into Mingo Central territory twice in the first half, but each time quarterback Brady Ours was intercepted. The first was by senior Lee Chafin with 9:29 left in the half, and the second was by Dalton Sheppard, who picked off a potential TD pass in the end zone.
Keyser was in a punting situation late in the second quarter when they tried a fake punt. However the stout Mingo Central defense snuffed out the run and took over on their own 47 yard line with 1:47 left in the half. Dillon quickly moved the Miners’ offense downfield and the drive was capped by a 3-yard TD run by Hunt. The conversion run failed, but MCHS took a 19-0 lead into the dressing room at the half.
Neither team scored in the third quarter as the defenses battled it out between the 30 yard lines.
However, with 10:49 left in the fourth quarter, Dillon hit Hunt on a screen pass and he rumbled into the end zone from 13 yards out. The kick was no good and the Miners lead was 25-0.
Keyser finally got into the end zone at the 8:13 mark of the final quarter as Ours completed a pass to Deavonta Johnson for 44 yards. The 2-point conversion pass from Ours to Reggie Redman was good to make it 25-8. Ours is the son of former WVU football player Wes Ours.
Hunt added his final TD of the night to put an exclamation point on the big win and his solid performance, scoring from 20 yards with 5:07 remaining in the playoff game.
Hunt moved past the 1,000 yard mark in the game. He now has 1,102 for a new school record. Dillon rushed for 108 yards and is only a few yards of passing the 1,000 yard mark too. He was 10-13 passing for 110 yards and a pair of TDs.
Ours was 5-17 for 79 yards, one TD and three picks. Rushing wise, Ours had 70 yards to lead Keyser, Johnson had 60 and Terrell Bush 49 on the ground.
Mingo had 415 yards of total ofnfense, 305 on the ground and 110 in the air. The Golden Tornado piled up 305 yards, but only one score.
MCHS had seven pealties for 50 yards, while Keyser picked up five yellow flags for 45 yards.
Defensively senior linebacker Caleb “K-Bo” Lester led the Miners with seven tackles. Grimmett had six and several other players had multiple stops for MCHS.
“It will always start upfront so proud of those guys. Joe Hunt ran like a wild man tonight. How we have been winning on first down and keeping the chains moving we can really control the tempo and keep the defense on their toes. We may be the most balanced offense in AA in awhile. We’ve had great offenses here that’s been no secret but what gives us a chance to win a state championship is how we are playing defensively,” said assistant coach and offensive coordinator Joey Fields. “That’s a sign of a great team. Coach Sammons and coach Harrison have done a great job. Our motto all year as a team has been ‘One At A Time’ and that’s how we are approaching it. This has been our goal since August and we are a game away.”
Defensive coach Josh Sammons said, “Overall I thought the defense played really well tonight. We made them work for everything they got. I thought we did a good job of limiting their QB and making other guys make plays for them. We only gave up one big play late in the game which was a busted coverage – so overall I’m proud of the way our guys are playing on defense. When we play the way we did tonight on defense it’s tough to come to our place and beat us. We had two crucial picks down inside the 20 which got the momentum going our way and those were big plays for us.”
The Miners, the No. 2 seed in Class AA, reach the semi-finals for the second straight year and second time in school history. They will host highly ranked Point Pleasant or James Monroe this weekend at Harless Stadium. Those two teams played on Saturday night. The Big Blacks, who dropped down from Class AAA, are seeded No. 3 and are 12-0, while James Monroe is seeded No.6 and have only lost one game this season going into the quarter finals.
Score by quarters:
Keyser: 0 0 0 8 – 8
Mingo: 13 6 0 13 – 32