Mikle Scott Rowe is going to have a great story or two to tell his future children and grandchildren some day.
Less than three months ago, Rowe helped save the Class A state championship for the Man High School baseball team.
With Man tied 7-7 in the bottom of the seventh inning in the Hillbillies’ Class A state final game with Clarksburg Notre Dame, Rowe, who was pitching in relief for Man, fired a wild pitch which bounced off the Appalachian Power Park backstop wall.
With a runner on third, Notre Dame was going for broke and tried to win the game.
Man catcher Cayce Mullins raced back, grabbed the ricochet and flipped to Rowe, who tagged the runner at the plate for the third out, sending the game to extra innings where Man eventually won 12-10 to claim its first-ever state baseball title.
Fast-forward three months and Rowe had even more athletic heroics.
Rowe, Man’s senior running back, scored the game-winning touchdown in overtime on a 9-yard run as the Billies upended arch-rival Logan, 32-26, at a near capacity Logan Stadium on Friday night in the season-opening Lions Club Bowl game.
Man not only snapped a four-game losing skid to the Wildcats, it also grabbed 12 points in the WVSSAC’s playoff system — or the equivalent of two wins over Class A teams — with the victory over the Triple-A Wildcats.
It was the first win by Class A Man over 3A Logan since 2009 when the Billies won 34-7 en route to a 12-2 season and appearance in the Wheeling Super Six.
Man entered the game ranked No. 10 in the state in the Class A MetroNews Preseason Poll.
“It was a great game. Great game,” Man coach Harvey Arms said. “Both sides played hard all night long. It was up and down. We had some good chances and it looked like we blew some and then Mikle Scott came up with a big play. Of course, our line blocked well all night long. We moved the ball really well on the ground and we protected our passer really well. I thought we played real well for it being the first game in the season but we still have got a long way to go.”
After Rowe broke tackles and spun his way into the end zone for the winning touchdown he was swarmed by teammates and assistant coach Bill Lusk who ran across the field to greet him.
A few Logan players dropped to their knees and collapsed as the Wildcats lost the emotional roller coaster of a ride that was the season opener.
Arms said Rowe was able to keep on his feet, avoid Logan would-be tacklers and found a way to make it to pay dirt.
“It was a great run by Rowe,” Arms said. “He found a way to get to the goal line. That’s what you have got to do. We’re proud of the team, absolutely. No matter how this game turned out tonight we are so proud of the team. It’s much more fun, though, to win a game like this.”
Rowe finished the game with 11 carries for 64 yards and two touchdowns.
The Lions Club Bowl Most Valuable Player was Man’s bruising senior running back Neil Mullins, who rumbled his way for 132 yards on 24 carries, often smashing through Logan’s D-line and sometimes only going down after getting gang tackled.
Man had jumped out to a commanding 26-14 lead with 6:34 left in the game as QB John Thomas Keffer scored on a 1-yard touchdown sneak. The score was set up by a 19-yard burst by Mullins to the Logan 1.
But on the ensuing kickoff, Logan’s Matt Cox got the Wildcats (0-1) back into the game with an electrifying 60-yard return for a touchdown to make it 26-20 with 6:23 to go.
Man was pinned deep on its next drive and had to punt out of its own end zone. After a short 27-yard punt, Logan took over on the Billies’ 35-yard line.
Logan was still in it.
Eight plays later, Logan quarterback Ryan Miller scored on a 7-yard run on a fourth-and-goal play to tie the game 26-26 with 33.3 ticks to go.
Logan had a chance to potentially win it on the extra point kick but Jacob Browning’s boot sailed wide left.
Just like that, the Billies had new life.
They could have lost.
“The thing is is that our players didn’t seem to worry,” Arms said when asked about the Wildcats’ comeback. “They came back there on the field and played hard.”
Man took over on its own 34 and after two plays regulation time ran out and the game went to overtime.
The Billies won the coin flip and opted to go on defense first in OT.
Man’s defense stopped Logan on its overtime drive from the Man 20-yard line. The Wildcats drove to the Man 13 with a 12-yard pass from Miller to Cameron Sammons. However, a holding penalty on Logan and two incomplete passes killed the OT drive.
The Billies then won it on the sixth play of their overtime drive with the Rowe touchdown run.
Just how big was the win for Man?
With the victory over Triple-A Logan, Man gets 12 points in the WVSSAC’s playoff point system. It could go a long way down the road in helping the Billies secure homefield advantage for the Class A playoffs.
In the current system, six points are awarded for a win over a Single-A school, nine for a win over a Double-A and 12 for a Triple-A.
For Man, it’s like getting two for the price of one.
The first playoff ratings won’t be released by the SSAC until Week 3 but if they were released now, Man would be ranked No. 1 in the state.
“It was a great way to get 12 points here in the first week,” Arms said. “We love that but those guys (Logan) will win some ballgames and hopefully that will help us get some bonus points.”
Arms praised the play of Mullins, who bulldozed his way and plowed up the middle like a Mack truck for several big gainers. On one carry, Mullins crashed through the Logan line and it took five Wildcat defenders to bring him down.
“Neil played great,” Arms said. “Mikle Scott played great and John Thomas really controlled things.”
Man largely won the game in the trenches.
Logan came into the season with big question marks on its offensive line after all of its starters from last year were lost to graduation.
“Our offensive line was really good,” Arms said.
Man’s defense also stepped up and except for a few big plays were able to limit Logan’s four-wide spread offense.
“I thought our defense played really well,” Arms said. “We gave up some plays that kind of hurt us at the point but we always recouperated and came back.”
Logan went up 7-0 early in the first quarter on a gadget play as Miller hit Zac Acord on a pass and Acord then pitched to Cox for a 34-yard hook-and-lateral touchdown.
Man then went to its ground game and Mullins. Rowe cut the Logan lead to 7-6 with a 1-yard TD run with 4:41 left in the opening quarter. The two-point conversion failed.
The Hillbillies took the lead, 14-7, with 9:22 left until halftime as Keffer scored on a 1-yard QB plunge and then leaped into the end zone on a the two-point conversion play.
Logan was pinned deep on its next drive and Man made them pay as Miller, who took heavy pressure from Jake Adkins in the end zone, tried to shovel pass the ball out of the end zone. It was a huge turn of events as Miller was picked off by Nick Collins at the 5-yard line and then went into the end zone for a TD to make it 20-7 Man with 8:56 to go until the half.
“That was a really big play,” Arms said of the interception return by Collins. “They made a mistake and we took advantage of it and that’s what you have got to do in these kinds of games.”
Logan trimmed the deficit to 20-14 at the 11-minute mark of the third quarter as Miller fired a 14-yard TD pass to Cox, who had three scores on the night.
Man later got the ball back after a Logan fumble on its own 20-yard line. Keffer then scored from 1 yard out on the very next play.
Logan coach Gary Mullins, now 7-4 against Man in 11 years, said his team made a nice comeback and didn’t quit but it just wasn’t enough to beat a very good Hillbillies’ squad.
“We battled back hard,” Coach Mullins said. “We kept fighting and fighting and that’s all that you can ask for. We just have to keep getting better and better each week.”
Mullins said the 60-yard TD return by Cox on the kickoff got Logan back into the game.
“That gave us a chance and lit a fire underneath us,” he said. “Cox played a really good game and had three touchdowns. He played a great game tonight.”
Coach Mullins said all in all, Logan’s defense played pretty well.
“We kind of did what we wanted up there. We put a helmet on the ball. We caused six or seven fumbles but they (Man) got every one of them back. We were able to knock it out but we couldn’t get to the ball. We have to learn from our mistakes and we will have to get the next one and try to get better.”
For the second straight year, Logan executed the hook-and-lateral on Man. The Wildcats did it last year in a 40-20 win at Man.
“It worked really well. Acord did a really good job in getting it to Cox,” Coach Mullins said.
Keffer finished the game 5-for-15 passing for 96 yards. Man rushed with the ball 43 times for 214 yards. The Billies had 310 total yards.
Keffer had five attempts for 16 yards and two TDs. Jake Frye had two carries for two yards. Jace Duba had one rush for no yards.
Kenny Jo Adkins, a basketball and baseball player at Man, made his football debut with two catches for 67 yards. Ross Osborne had two grabs for 24 yards. Gage Harvey had one catch for five yards.
Harvey and Duba led the Man defense as each had nine tackles in the game. Duba also had two sacks and two tackles for loss.
Bryce Goff had seven tackles and one interception.
Christian McCoy finished with seven tackles, one sack and one tackle for loss.
Tanner Bailey had five tackles and two tackles for loss.
Austin Compton contributed four tackles and one tackle for loss.
Osborne finished with three tackles, while Neil Mullins had three tackles, a sack and one tackle for loss. Tyler Grimmett also had three stops and one tackle for loss.
Collins had two tackles and the interception return for a TD.
Daniel Buchanon had two tackles as did Rowe.
Matt Sanders, Gabby Brown and Tyler Blair had one tackle each.
Man had three total sacks, three forced fumbles, two interceptions and and a fumble recovery.
Logan’s statistics were unavailable as of presstime on Saturday.
In the stat of the game, Man didn’t not commit a single turnover.
“We didn’t turn the ball over one time tonight. To me that was the most important stat in the stat column tonight,” Coach Lusk said. “We had a number of guys seeing their first varsity action tonight, mainly Kenny Jo, Daniel, Jake, Tyler and Gabby, all of them played very well and as we go along during the season they will gain that valuable experience and will only get better as we progress.”
* THE MAIZE AND BLUE OF LOGAN: Logan unveiled its new-look blue and gold uniforms at Friday night’s game. Gone is the old Vegas Gold or Notre Dame Gold and in is the more yellowish maize color, ala the Michigan Wolverines. Logan also had a new Wildcat decal on its helmets. Logan has played the last few seasons with only a plain blue helmet. Back in 2010 and into the 2011 season, Logan had a Kansas State Wildcat helmet decal.
* HALL OF FAMES: Next week is Hall of Fame Week for both Logan and Man. Logan hosts Shady Spring next Friday night and will enshrine J.D. Brammer and Elizabeth “Libby” Noe to the LHS Athletic Hall of Fame. There will be a Hall of Fame lucheon at 11 a.m. on Thursday at the Logan Country Club with a golf outing to follow at noon. At 6 p.m. on Thursday night LHS will have its Hall of Fame dinner at the LCC. Man hosts Mount View next Friday in its Hall of Fame Game. It will also be the home opener for the Hillbillies. The Hall of Fame inductees will be honored during a banquet on Thursday at Man High School and before the Man-Mount View game. Man’s Hall of Fame class has not yet been released to the public.
* CLOCK PROBLEMS: There were issues with the Logan Stadium scoreboard clock at Friday night’s game. After an incomplete pass by Man QB John Thomas Keffer in the third quarter the clock continued to roll and 15 seconds were lost. No one knows why the clock did not stop after the incomplete pass.
* 2013 TEAM HONORED: Logan honored the senior members from its 2013 playoff team at halftime of the game. Star player Worm Street, now a member of the Glenville State College squad, could not attend. His brother, former Logan player Joe Street, accepted on his behalf. Worm Street rushed for 1,444 yards last season for 7-4 Logan.
* QUOTABLE: Man assistant coach and statkeeper Bill Lusk on Neil Mullins’ performance … “Neil was a human wrecking ball tonight bouncing off or running over anything in his sight.”