Wheeling Central claims Class A state title with defeat of Williamstown
WHEELING - Adam Murray, Wheeling Central’s all-state linebacker, is usually the one preventing teams from making plays. But Saturday night, he provided perhaps the game’s biggest play on a fake punt.
Murray sprinted 34 yards for a first down out of punt formation as the Maroon Knights broke open a close game with two late touchdowns in the first half and cruised to a 44-15 victory over Williamstown for their second straight Class A championship at Wheeling Island Stadium.
With that burst of impromptu plays, the top-seeded Knights took a 30-8 halftime advantage and kept the No. 6 Yellowjackets (11-3) at arm’s length the rest of the way.
Junior quarterback Curtis McGhee ran for a touchdown and threw for another and supplied Central with 284 yards of total offense - 130 yards on 23 carries and 154 more passing on 11 of 17 accuracy. Five different Knights scored touchdowns as the program captured its 10th state title since 2000.
Central (13-1) vaulted into a 16-0 first-half lead, with the key play at that point being a blocked punt by Luke Duplaga that resulted in a safety and an ensuing touchdown after the free kick, sparked by a McGhee-to-Bray Price 43-yard pass to set up Vinny Mangino’s 1-yard TD run.
Williamstown, though, cut it back to 16-8 with a 10-play, 71-yard drive that featured all running plays.
Donathan Taylor scored on a 2-yard run and Nick Bondi caught a 2-point conversion pass from Carter Haynes to halve the lead and bring the Jackets within one possession.
Williamstown kept hammering game MVP Taylor into the line (28 carries, 198 yards), but could never get back within 15 points. McGhee was selected as the Knights’ MVP.
WILLIAMSTOWN 0 8 7 0 - 15
WHEELING CENTRAL 7 23 7 7 - 44
WC: Murray 1 run (Rine kick), 6:20
WC: Safety, Duplaga blocked punt out of end zone, 10:47
WC: Mangino 1 run (Rine kick), 10:29
W: Taylor 2 run (Bondi pass from Haynes), 6:51
WC: McGhee 14 run (Rine kick), 3:52
WC: Robbins 31 pass from McGhee (Rine kick), :00
W: Haynes 1 run (Caruthers kick), 7:23
WC: Murray 2 run (Rine kick), 2:49
WC: Price 42 run (Rine kick), 6:57