The special teams are often an overlooked part in the sport of football.
It’s usually not until something goes wrong that most people take notice.
That was the case on Friday night for the Logan High School football team and the Class AAA No. 11-ranked Wildcats in their showdown of the unbeatens against No. 9-ranked Point Pleasant at the Logan Football Stadium.
Two bad snaps on punt plays led directly to two Point Pleasant touchdowns as the Big Blacks improved to 3-0 on the season and beat the Wildcats, 37-21, handing Logan its first loss of the season and dropping LHS to 3-1.
Logan, which had beaten Point Pleasant twice in two previous meetings in the 2000s, trailed the Big Blacks 22-7 at halftime and 35-7 midway into the third but made a huge comeback.
A 90-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Josh Rein pulled the Wildcats to within 35-14.
Late in the third, Rein reeled in a circus-like touchdown grab of 23 yards from quarterback Noah Corbett to make it a 35-21 ballgame.
Logan, however, then gave up a safety and saw a fourth-quarter drive stall deep inside Point Pleasant’s red zone. The Big Blacks then milked the rest of the clock and walked away a winner over the Wildcats.
Logan seemed to play very nearly play toe-to-toe with Point Pleasant, a Class AAA playoff team last year and the 2011 Double-A state runner-ups to Wayne.
But the longsnapping fiascos ended up doing the Cats in.
In addition to the safety, Logan’s special teams also gave up more points when Point Pleasant muffed the ball on a PAT try. The holder then scooped up the ball and ran into the end zone for a surprise two-point conversion.
Logan actually had four high snaps during punts. Luckily, Logan punter Rein was able to jump and catch two of those.
Logan 10th-year head coach Gary Mullins, also the team’s special teams coach, stepped up after the game and blamed the loss on himself.
“I did a very poor job early,” Mullins said. “I made some calls that really hurt us. I didn’t do a very good job tonight and that’s what happens when the coach has a bad game. We gave up 17 points on special teams and we lost by 16. We knew coming in how good their special teams was and how we had to win that. I’m the special teams coach and I didn’t have a very good game.
“I didn’t put our players in the right situations. Had I had a better called game we might have been 4-0.”
Mullins said he was proud of his team for battling back.
Down 28 points, Logan could have folded.
It might have gotten ugly.
“We just dug that hole,” Mullins said. “I told them at some point we have to stop the bleeding. They came out and hit us twice there right out of the gate and a lot of teams would have folded at that point but we kept fighting. I was really proud of that.”
Mullins said his Wildcats played pretty well against a good foe.
“We can take a lot of positives out of the game tonight,” he said. “They (Point Pleasant) went to the Double-A state championship game a couple of years ago and last year they made it to the 3A playoff and only lost to Morgantown by 14 points. They are a good football team. I’d be stunned if they don’t go 10-0 now.”
Point Pleasant outgained Logan 319-229 in total offense. The Big Blacks’ patented ground game ended up with 243 yards on the ground. Logan had 24 rushes for 138 yards and another 91 in the air. Point had 76 yards passing.
“Our defense played great overall,” Mullins said. “They didn’t play great but they played well. They made some good plays. I thought that we were very physical as well. We just have a lot of little things that we have to get better at and I have a lot of things that I need to get better at before next Friday. I just wish that it was next Friday by now.”
Logan alternated at quarterback between junior Ryan Miller, who missed last week’s game with an injured knee, and freshman Noah Corbett. Miller was 1-for-7 passing for three yards. Corbett was 6-for-12 passing for 82 yards and the TD.
“We got Ryan in there and his knee was bothering him a little bit but he looked good in warmups and he wanted to go,” Mullins said. “Early on for Noah, it seemed like the emotion was getting to him a little bit with the big crowd and the big game and he’s just 14-years-old. They sent a lot of pressure on him. We still think that we have two excellent quarterbacks that give us a good chance to win.”
The two special teams disasters, however, stuck out.
The first one led to Point Pleasant’s first touchdown of the game.
After a scoreless opening quarter, Logan was forced to punt deep in its own territory.
The deep snap to punter Daniel Hanks went way over his head and into the end zone.
There was a mad scramble for the ball around the goal line.
Instead of Logan soccer kicking the ball through the end zone and giving Point Pleasant the safety and a 2-0 lead, Logan instead recovered and tried to run the ball out. Point got it at the 2.
Then on the very next play, Point Pleasant was in the end zone on a 2-yard TD run by quarterback Robert Yates as the Big Blacks led 7-0 with 9:55 to go until halftime.
The same thing happened again just before halftime — this time to another Logan punter in Rein.
Rein was standing on his own 5-yard line ready to punt but the snap went high over his head as well.
Rein went for the ball and Point Pleasant’s David Russell batted it away. Instead of giving up a safety, the Big Blacks’ Jonathan Peterson raced to the corner of the end zone to recover the ball for a touchdown to make it 22-7 Point with 2:49 left before the half.
Mullins said Point should have gotten four points and two safeties on the two plays but instead gave up two TDs and 14 points.
“Those have to be safeties and not touchdowns,” Mullins said of the blunders. “We turned big problems in catastrophies. We just didn’t cover that enough at practice and we just didn’t go over that scenario enough or those guys would have reacted better. It’s my fault and I’m the special teams coach. I gave them 17 points. We just have to do a lot of things better. We can’t make mistakes like that and beat a good team like that.”
Logan looked to score early as Tyler Workman intercepted Yates at the Wildcat 34-yard line and took it down to the 27.
The drive stalled and Hanks’ 37-yard field goal attempt was short and to the left at the 3:46 mark of the first quarter.
Point later drove to the Logan 1-yard line but fumbled the ball back.
The first bad snap on the punts then led to Point’s first score.
Logan tied it up 7-7 with 7:06 to go until halftime with Street’s 3-yard TD run and the PAT by Hanks. The score was set up by a 55-yard kickoff return by Corbett to the Big Black 20-yard line.
Point Pleasant then went up 15-7 at the 4:36 mark with a 3-yard toss sweep touchdown run by Cody McDaniel. The Big Blacks tried the extra point but there was a bad snap to holder Gage Buskirk. The junior then scooped up the ball and ran in for a two-point converison.
The second special teams mistake by Logan made it a 22-7 ballgame at the half.
Point Pleasant made it 28-7 with 9:01 left in the third quarter on a 14-yard TD run by Yates. The PAT was no good after another bad snap, a common theme of the night for not just Logan but Point Pleasant as well.
The Big Blacks got the ball back later on at the Logan 47 after a punt. Seven plays later, Yates scored on a 2-yard TD run to make it 35-7 with 4:46 left in the third period. The extra point kick by Collin Peal was good.
It looked like the game might get out of hand.
Rein and the Wildcats, however, had other ideas.
Rein got Logan right back into the game on the ensuing kickoff as he went to the house on a 90-yard return for a touchdown. Hanks booted the PAT and it was a 35-14 ballgame with 4:29 left in the third.
Point Pleasant then went three-and-out and Logan got the ball back at its own 27.
On the second play of the drive, Corbett raced down the sideline for a 21-yard pickup. Fifteen more yards were tacked on as Corbett was viciously hit late and out of bounds by Point Pleasant’s Peterson. Corbett was knocked into the Wildcats’ water cooler but got up and was OK. The personal foul penalty by the Big Blacks gave Logan a first-and-10 at the Point 37.
Four plays later, Corbett lofted a bomb to a streaking Rein down the sideline. The athletic Rein was double teammed but jumped high into the air to make an acrobatic 23-yard touchdown grab at the 1:52 mark. Hanks was again good on the PAT and Logan pulled to within 35-21.
Can you say, momentum shift?
The Big Blacks got the ball back but the drive stalled when Yates was sacked for a 9-yard loss at midfield and Point was forced to punt.
The Wildcats took over on their own 9-yard line and were 91 yards away from paydirt. One more score and Logan would be within seven points.
It wasn’t meant to be, however, as Corbett was tackled in the end zone for a safety by Russell as Point Pleasant made it 37-21 with 10:22 left in the game.
It was the momentum killer for the Cats.
Logan, though, was still in it, trailing by two touchdowns and two two-point conversions.
The Wildcats’ Preston Hepler kept Logan in the game by falling on a Point fumble at the Logan 43-yard line.
Corbett drove Logan down the field, hitting Brett Musick on a 9-yard pass play, then later connecting with Rein for 21 yards and Worm Street for 35 yards despite being shielded by three Point defenders. The last completion, a perfectly thrown spiral to Street in stride and over his shoulder into triple coverage, set up Logan with a first-and-goal at the 9.
Logan, though, was unable to score as a fourth-and-goal pass to Street in the end zone was incomplete.
Point took over and more or less was able to chew up the rest of the clock.
Coach Mullins praised Corbett for keeping the Cats into the game.
“The only thing that he needs to get better at is that sometimes he’s just a second indecisive,” he said. “He don’t trust himself from the word go. He’ll hold it just a half second too long. Once he can get out of that I don’t care how old that he is he’s got all of the tools. He just needs to get supreme confidence in himself and let the game come to him. I think that will make him better as he gets older.”
Rein finished with four catches for 35 yards and the TD. Musick had two grabs for 17 yards. Street had one catch for 30 yards and 17 rushes for 84 yards and a score. Rein had two carries for 28 yards and Corbett two totes for 20 yards. Tyler Vernatter had three rushes for six yards.
Hanks was 3-for-3 in his PATs.
Musick led the Logan defense with nine tackles. Jacob Browning had seven, while Stephen Dilly and A.J. Grimmett had six each. Hepler, Street and Clayton Marcum had five tackles apiece. Vernatter, Workman and Chris Browning had four stops each. Matt Cox and Jon Workman each had two tackles. Tres Duncan and Kyle Runyon had one each.
Grimmett, Jon Workman and Cox each had sacks. Dilly and Chris Browning each caused a fumble.
Point Pleasant was led by Cody Mitchell, who rushed 18 times for 149 yards. Walton had 11 carries for 68 yards. Yates was 3-for-7 passing for 76 yards and a pick.
Logan now shifts focus to this coming Friday night’s county showdown at rival Chapmanville. The Tigers are 3-1 after beating the Poca Dots, 34-31, this week.
Already with a win over Man (40-20) Logan can wrap up the county championship with a victory over Chapmanville.
“That’s the first goal on our board and that is to be county champions,” Mullins said. “It took us two quarters tonight to adjust to the speed of the game. I think that we were as fast as them but we weren’t used to that kind of speed off the ball. Midway into the third quarter we got our legs under us and we adjusted. If we can play at that level the last 19 minutes I think that it will hard for anyone to beat us.”
* Before the game, Logan High School cheerleading coach Michelle Akers was recognized as the WVSSAC state cheerleading coach of the year.
Akers led Logan to a Class AAA state title in 2009 and state runner-up finishes in 2011 and 2012.
Look for more on Akers’ achievement in Tuesday’s Logan Banner.
2013 Logan High School
Football Schedule (3-1):
Aug. 30: at Man, W 40-20
Sept. 6: at Shady Spring, W 39-0
Sept. 13: Lincoln County (Hall of Fame Game), W 51-13
Sept. 20: Point Pleasant, L 21-37
Sept. 27: at Chapmanville, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 4: OPEN DATE
Oct. 11: at University, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 18: Greenbrier East (Homecoming), 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 25: at Mingo Central, 7:30 p.m.
Nov. 1: Nitro, 7:30 p.m.
Nov. 8: Scott (Senior Night), 7:30 p.m.