RED JACKET – Mingo Central advanced in the Class AA playoffs as they clobbered Liberty-Harrison 55-7 on a cold Friday night at Harless Stadium on Miner Mountain.
The 11-0 Miners, seeded No. 2, led 21-0 at the half and scored 34 points in the third quarter to run away with the game.
Junior quarterback Jeremy Dillon, a Kennedy Award candidate, had his usual great game with five touchdown passes and one rushing score. He was 13-22 passing, but did have one interception.
A couple of other players, a pair of seniors, had games to remember. Defensive back Thomas Harmon tied a state playoff record with four interceptions (one for a TD) and he also had a fumble recovery. Harmon also had a TD reception in the second half.
Wide receiver Tyler Grimmett caught four TD passes, a career best and a state and school record, to help the Miners to the big win. Grimmett finished with six catches for 194 yards.
Joe Hunt, a tough senior running back, led the Miners with 64 yards on the ground and one TD.
Mingo Central took an early lead as Dillon connected with Grimmett on a screen pass that went 35 yards for a TD. Billy Mitchem, an old-fashioned straight on kicker, booted the extra point to make it 7-0 with 9:54 left in the first quarter.
Harmon picked off his first pass by Liberty sophomore quarterback Seth McKinney with 5:43 left in the opening quarter. He returned it to the Mountaineers’ 21 yard line. A few plays later Hunt bulled it over from three yards out. Mitchem’s kick made it 14-0.
Liberty-Harrison (7-4) threatened to score early in the second quarter, but the Miner defense stood up and made a couple of good stops. Two big tackles for loss pushed the visitors back across the 50 yard line and forced a third and 25. The Miners held and took over on downs.
Then Dillon hooked up with Grimment on a nice long 40 yard spiral and the wide receiver raced 75 yards for a TD with 5:06 left in the half. The extra point kick made it 21-0 as the teams headed into the dressing room at the half.
The third quarter was all Mingo Central. Dillon rushed for a 10 yard TD to increase the lead to 27-0.
The Mountaineers got one score in the third quarter when McKinney capped off a drive with a one yard TD run. The extra point was good by Chance Howell, which made it 27-7 at that point.
Dillon connected with Grimmett for a 23-yard TD pass to pad the lead. Mitchem’s kick was good to make it 34-7.
Harmon showed off his offensive skills as he caught a TD pass from Dillon and streaked to the end zone for a 52 yard TD with 4:34 left in the third quarter. The senior had two receptions for 64 yards to add to his career night. The XP kick made it 41-7.
Grimmett and Dillon hooked up for another TD, a 55 yard scoring pass to put the game out of reach at 48-7.
Harmon’s pick six gave the Miners another score and added to the lead.
Senior linebacker Caleb Lester led the Miners with nine tackles and a sack.
The Miners have been averaging 48 points per game and holding their opponents to around 12 points per game. They did even better than that on Friday night.
Head Coach Yogi Kinder said his team had a “great week of practice,” perhaps their best all season. This is what a coaching staff wants as they head into the playoffs.
Assistant Coach Joey Fields said the coaching staff was pleased with both the play of the offense and defense.
Mingo Central had already made history, finishing with a perfect 10-0 regular season record. Now their goal is to make it the state championship. First they had to take care of the No. 15 seeded Mountaineers from Clarksburg, W.Va. Now they are only three wins away from their first trip to the state championship game in the school’s young history.
Next up will be No. 10 Keyser, which is located on the Pennsylvania border in northern W.Va. The Golden Tornado, who defeated Nicholas County 50-12, will decide when to play, which could be on Friday or Saturday, but that won’t be decided until Sunday during the coaches meeting with the SSAC.
(Kyle Lovern is the Managing Editor for the Civitas Media Mountain District including the Williamson Daily News and Logan Banner. He can be contacted at [email protected] or at 304-235-4242, ext. 2277 or on Twitter @KyleLovern.)
Score by quarters:
Liberty: 0 0 7 0 – 7
Mingo: 14 7 34 0 – 55