NAUGATUCK – The Wildcats of Meadow Bridge came into Naugatuck with one of the best running backs in the state. Senior Jake Parker led his squad to a 32-14 victory over Tug Valley on a cool Autumn-like Friday.
The Meadow Bridge senior running back continued his torrid pace as he rushed for 183 yards and three touchdowns against Tug Valley.
Parker went into the game as the state’s leading returning rusher. He started off his senior year in fine fashion last week, rushing for 447 yards and six touchdowns. He still had the energy to record 12 tackles on defense, as the Wildcats knocked off Van 56-20.
The Panthers started out the game with a strong defensive stand as Dwayne Marcum recovered a fumble to stop a Wildcat drive. Meadow Bridge had moved the ball to the Tug Valley 1-yard line, but quarterback Ryan Church was hit hard and coughed it up.
After a short punt by the Panthers, Meadow Bridge took over on the 40-yard line. Three plays later Parker broke loose for a 17-yard TD run with 44 seconds left in the first quarter. Church hooked up with Kaleb Farr for the two-point conversion to give the visitors an 8-0 lead.
Starting out the second quarter, there was a slight delay as the lights on the visitor’s side of the field went out. However, after about five minutes, the officials decided to continue to play with the lights that were working.
Early in the second quarter, Church kept the football and raced 70 yards for a score, however, it was called back because of a holding penalty. Eventually the Wildcats were forced to punt, and Tug Valley took over with good field position on the 40-yard line. Sophomore fullback Phillip Lucas moved the ball to the 20. Two plays later, senior tailback David Runyon scored from 10 yards out to cut the lead to 8-6. The conversion pass was incomplete and MBHS held onto a two-point lead.
After the ensuing kickoff, Meadow Bridge took over on its own 39-yard line. On the second play from scrimmage, Church hit Farr over the middle and he raced 63 yards for the TD. Church ran it in for the conversion and the Cats led 16-6 with 6:06 left in the first half.
A personal foul on the Panthers let Meadow Bridge kick the ball deep into TVHS territory. After three-and-out, Tug Valley was forced to punt from its own end zone. However, the snap was high and the punter pushed the pigskin out of the back of the end zone for a safety with 3:22 left in the half.
The Panthers then had to kick from their own 25-yard line. Meadow Bridge took over from the 45 and had a short field. Parker got the call and moved the ball to the 10-yard line. With 1:40 left in the second quarter, Parker hit paydirt again from 10 yards out. The conversion run was stuffed by the Panther defense, but the home team went into the dressing room at the half trailing 24-6.
Tug Valley took over on its own 40 after the kickoff to start the second half. After moving the ball on 10 plays to the Meadow Bridge 14, the drive stalled.
Good runs by Lucas and Runyon got the ball deep into the red zone.
The third quarter ended with neither team scoring.
But, with 9:08 left in the final quarter, Tug Valley quarterback Tyler Conley followed his big linemen into the end zone on a 2-yard TD run. Then Conley hit Corbin Oliver for the two-conversion pass to cut the lead to 24-14.
Tug Valley then tried an on-sides kick, but Meadow Bridge fell on the football to start out in great field position near midfield.
With 6:40 left in the game, Parker broke loose again for a 21-yard TD score. He also scored the two-point conversion to give his team a 32-14 lead.
“We battled,” Tug Valley head coach Tony Clusky said. “We have some young kids and they made some mistakes. But, we’ll be alright. At times we moved the ball pretty good but then we would line up in the wrong formation and go backwards. We gambled some on defense and it cost us. We will go back to work on Monday and continue to get better. I thought Phillip (Lucas) ran the ball hard and he got a lot of yards on his own. David (Runyon) did too.”
Runyon had 52 yards on 15 carries and a TD, while Lucas had 89 yards on 12 tries. Conley rushed for 32 yards on 16 carries and a score. Runyon had the other TD. Conley was 5-of-11 passing for 38 yards.
Defensively, Conley had seven tackles, Dwayne Marcum five tackles, two tackles for loss and the fumble recovery, while Jonathan Farley had five tackles and one tackle for loss.
Meadow Bridge had 286 yards of total offense, while Tug Valley had 206. The Panthers had seven penalties for 50 yards, while the Wildcats had seven for 45 yards.
The Panthers are now 1-1 and will hit the road for the first time this season as they travel to Mount View on Friday night.
Meadow Bridge improved to 2-0 and will hit the road traveling to Midland Trail this week.
Mingo Central 20,
GLENHAYES – The Tolsia Rebels’ lost their football home opener in a hard fought game to Mingo Central Friday night, 20-19, at Wilts Salmons Athletic Field.
Down by one point with less than 30 seconds left in the game, sophomore quarterback Blake Rose found Brandon Ward in the middle of the defense for a quick pass that Ward stretched into a 20-yard gain before the Miner defense drove Ward out of bounds at the 10-yard line.
Without any timeouts left, Rose spiked the ball to kill the clock and give Tolsia one more chance at the end zone.
The kicking team came on the field led by kicker Cody Salmons with less than 10 seconds left.
Before Salmons and the Rebels could set up for the field goal attempt, Mingo Central called a timeout in a bid to “ice” him. When play resumed the Miners were called for encroachment, moving Tolsia five yards closer and the field goal became the distance of an extra point.
Salmons gave the ball a good, strong kick that sailed quickly up to smack against the hands of a Miner defensive lineman who had knifed through the offensive line into the backfield. Stevie Hammonds and Cody Blankenship squeezed through to block the field goal attempt.
Mingo Central followed up by taking a knee to run out the clock.
Both teams looked to be equal in the stats category with a few minor differences. The Rebels racked up 154 yards on the ground with Jennings Holland leading all rushers with 67 yards on 13 carries and a touchdown. Rose showed he was mobile with 38 yards on four carries and was only caught for a loss once in the game. Luke Presley also finished with 36 yards.
The Tolsia defense held Mingo Central to 94 yards on the ground, and for the most part was able to keep the Miner passing attack in check except for two passing plays that were more than 30 yards.
The Miners drew first blood in the first quarter after a 13-yard off tackle by Chase Justice.
Tolsia answered on the next series with a 10-play, four-minute drive capped by a 1-yard dive by Ward into the end zone.
Mingo Central scored once more before the end of the half on a short run by Dakweon Willis.
The Miners were still riding the momentum on the opening kickoff of the second half when Deonte Joplin fielded the ball and took off to the races for a 73-yard return to put Tolsia down, 20-7.
The Rebels answering drive ended after two plays with a fumble recovered by the Miner defense.
Mingo Central didn’t have an opportunity to capitalize on the turnover as two plays later, Tolsia’s “Orange Crush” defense forced a fumble along the sideline on a Justice run that had went ten yards.
Presley scooped up the loose ball and scampered into the end zone for a 39-yard return.
The issues with the kicking game reared its ugly head as Salmons’ extra point attempt appeared to be good, but was ruled wide right by the officials.
The Rebels scored once more in the fourth, when they rode the legs of Holland into the end zone on a 17-yard touchdown run.
Again, Salmons was sent in for the extra-point. The ball went through the uprights and looked to be good, but the officials again said otherwise.
Tolsia showed to be the more disciplined team, only tallying three penalties for 21 yards while the Miners had seven for 60.
The Rebels are now 0-2 on the season. They go back on the road next Friday against the Sissonville Indians. The game is set for 7:30 p.m.
Mingo Central will hit the road again, this time a longer trip as they head north to take on Webster Springs.
— Jason Perry of the Wayne County News contributed to this report.