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West Virginia rules in Hatfield-McCoy Bowl

Paul AdkinsSports Editor

July 31, 2012

NEWTOWN — Joe Street had college football coaches and scouts in attendance at last Saturday night’s 17th-annual Hatfield-McCoy Senior Bowl licking their chops.


Sorry, boys.


He’s already taken.


Street, a 5-foot-11, 230-pound graduated senior running back from Logan High School, scored a bowl record four touchdowns to help lead the West Virginia All-Stars to a 37-12 win over Kentucky at Mingo Central’s James H. Buck Harless Stadium in Newtown.


Street, a University of Charleston signee, scored on runs of 1, 2, 5 and 4 and led the West Virginia All-Stars on the ground with 14 rushes for 66 yards.


Street picked up right where he left off in the high school season last fall and in the all-star season. During the 2011 prep season, he rushed for more than 1,200 yards and led Logan to a 8-3 record and its first Class AAA home playoff game since 1990. Last month at the North-South Football Classic at Charleston, Street was the South’s MVP as he rushed for 73 yards and scored two touchdowns, including the game-winner in a 36-28 overtime victory over the North.


“He had four touchdowns and got the record,” West Virginia All-Stars coach Joey Fields said of Street. “He had a heck of a game.”


Street, of course, didn’t do it alone.


Thanks to dominant line play, West Virginia was able to control the game down in the trenches and wear down the Kentucky All-Stars, which dressed only 22 players. Seven linemen who played a major part in the victory were Chapmanville Regional’s John Toler, Caleb Belcher, Thomas Belcher and Michael Watts and Logan’s Matt Southers, Marc Morris and Tyler Nelson.


Also taking part in the game was Logan linebacker and kicker Zach Ellis and Man High School’s Shane Browning and Jimmy Duba who played on special teams.


West Virginia improved to 11-6 over Kentucky in the all-time series and erased last year’s disappointment when it was hammered 30-14 by the boys from the Bluegrass State in a game that wasn’t even that close.


Saturday night’s Senior Bowl was the first played at Mingo Central and the first to be sponsored by Cliffs Natural Resourses. The game had previously been played at the old Matewan field since the inaugural bowl in 1996.


The stands, both on the home and visitor’s side were nearly packed. The field turfed stadium has a capacity of 5,000. Attendance was believed to be somewhere around 4,000.


“It was awesome and it was a great atmosphere just as we thought,” said Coach Fields, also a Mingo Central assistant. “These guys have worked hard all week. Like I said from the beginning, the team that has the best practices will win this game. They did a heck of job and were very determined. They were focused from the get-go. I’m proud of them and I loved getting to know these kids.”


Led by Street, West Virginia rolled up 204 yards rushing on 41 carries. West Virginia quarterbacks Ashton Cline and Jacob Staton — both from hometown Mingo Central — were a combined 8-for-14 for 128 yards. Cline was 7-for-11 for 97 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. Staton, who started the game at QB, was 1-for-3 for 31 yards.


West Virginia outgained Kentucky 332-177 in total offense.


Kentucky had 110 yards rushing on 32 carries. In the air, Kentucky’s Randy Maynard of Pikeville (Ky.) High School was 6-for-11 for 67 yards with a TD and an interception.


Fields said West Virginia’s line play was one of the keys to victory. In last year’s game, lacking a true center, West Virginia’s O-line was abyssmal as it tried to run out of the shotgun.


“When you get guys from Chapmanville, Logan and River View … Those are tough guys who have had a lot of tough competition,” Fields said of his linemen. “They played to their ability and I knew that they would.”


West Virginia also got a good game from Allen Bryant (Wayne) who rushed 10 times for 62 yards. Josh Bailey (River View) added another 46 yards on nine totes.


“Bryant is a tough, hard-nosed kid,” Fields said. “He led Wayne to the state championship and they will miss him. He was one of my first picks when they named me as coach.”


Staton also played wide receiver when not under center and had four catches for 46 yards. Corey Daniels (Mingo Central) had three grabs for 63 yards and a touchdown. Bryant also had a catch out of the backfield for 19 yards.


Street put West Virginia on top 6-0 with a 1-yard TD run at the 4:47 mark of the first quarter. The extra point kick by Ellis sailed wide right.


Kentucky then turned the ball over on downs on its next possession when a fake punt fizzled at the Kentucky 45-yard line. Seven plays later, West Virginia was in the end zone as Street ran in from 2 yards out with 9:15 to go until halftime. The PAT by Ellis was good and the West Virginia All-Stars led 13-0.


Kentucky was able to drive to the West Virginia 38 on its next drive but a fourth-and-two play was stopped for no gain.


West Virginia then took the ball down for another score as Street had a 5-yard touchdown run with 1:57 left to make it 19-0. The PAT by Ellis was blocked by Maynard.


The drive was set up by a key pass interference penalty on Kentucky and a 31-yard pass from Staton to Daniels to the Kentucky 33.


West Virginia got the ball back one more time before the half but Cline’s pass was intercepted by Kentucky’s Robbie Hopkins (Pike Central) in the end zone for a touchback.


West Virginia was then picked off on its opening third quarter possession as Cline was intercepted in the end zone by Josh Dixon (Belfry).


But with 2:53 to go in the third, Street scored his fourth and final TD of the night on a 4-yard run. Cline’s two-point conversion pass fell incomplete but it was 25-0 West Virginia.


Kentucky was then able to save some face with a pair of touchdowns. With 11:10 left in the game, quarterback Maynard scored on a 41-yard keeper on a fourth-and-one play to make it 25-6.


With 6:58 left, following a successful on-side kick in which West Virginia’s Matt Wellman (Mingo Central) was leveled and had to leave the game, Kentucky scored as Maynard fired a 29-yard TD pass to Nick Turner (Belfry). The conversion failed as the score remained 25-12.


West Virginia then answered late when Cline hooked up with Daniels on a 5-yard touchdown pass with 3:21 left to make it 31-12.


Then, following an interception by Alex Daniels (Mingo Central), West Virginia’s Thomas Forren (Westside) scored on a 19-yard sweep for a touchdown with 2:56 remaining to up the margin to 37-12.


Street and Maynard were named Offensive MVP’s after the game.


Clay Haddix (Wayne) was given the John Fry Award for the game’s best lineman. The new award is named after Fry, a Mingo Central assistant coach and former Hatfield-McCoy Bowl head coach, who passed away in June at the age of 27 after complications from surgery.


West Virginia’s Bryant and Kentucky’s Gary Runyon (Belfry) were the game’s Defensive MVP’s.


* Savannah Cline of Mingo Central was crowned at halftime as the Cliffs Miss Hatfield-McCoy Bowl queen.


* Man High School’s Jessica Gambill and Erin Burgess cheered for the W.Va. All-Star cheerleaders. Burgess was awarded a scholarship from the History Channel. Gambill was named as the “Outstanding Cheerleader” for West Virginia.


* West Virginia All-Star players R.J. Collins and Austin Reed of Mingo Central honored the late Coach Fry during the game by having “Fry” shaved into their heads.


Fry was honored before the game with a moment of silence. He coached W.Va. to wins in the 2008 and 2009 Hatfield-McCoy bowls.