Wayne train keeps rolling
WAYNE, W.Va. - It started out well for Nicholas County, as the opening kickoff and a Wayne penalty pinned the Pioneers back at their own 8-yard line.
But about midway through Mason Hodge's 92-yard scoring scamper on the next play, you just got the feeling it was going to be another case of business as usual for the state's No. 1 Class AA team.
And indeed it was as Wayne (12-0) continued one of the most dominant seasons in recent memory with a 47-0 win over the Grizzlies at Pioneer Field on Friday night in a quarterfinal playoff game.
The statistical evidence tells the story - Wayne piled up 674 yards of offense and 21 first downs while limiting No. 9 Nicholas to just 141 yards and nine first downs, seven of which came after halftime.
"Tonight we didn't have very good field position," Wayne coach Tom Harmon said. "The big play early helped us out of a jam there and then we just put together drives. For the most part, we took care of the football and when we do that, and the defense gives the ball back to you so quick, you get a lot of opportunities. I thought we played really well defensively against a team that's pretty balanced."
Wayne went 92, 96 and 86 yards on its first three drives, all ending in scores.
The second drive, which took 14 plays, would've ended a lot sooner had Brandon Spurlock's 96-yard run on the first play counted. It was brought back by a holding call, but the Wayne train kept chugging, just as it has for most of the season.
Hodge was far from done after his first carry, as the sophomore tailback found the end zone again on his second carry from 2 yards out to cap the second drive, then caught a 71-yard touchdown pass from Grant Ferguson in the second quarter.
Hodge accounted for 108 yards on four carries and 107 yards on a pair of catches before all was said and done.
"Grant threw the ball good as always and my line deserves all the credit," Hodge said. "They block every play, every down just as good as the last one."
That line cleared the way for a stable of backs that rolled up 496 yards on the ground, led by Spurlock's 162. Younger brother Nathan Spurlock scored on runs of 4 and 2 yards in the first half and would've added another in the second half but fumbled on the 2-yard line.
But in a microcosm of the game and of Wayne's season, the ball rolled into the end zone, where Dwight Blankenship dived on top of it for six more Pioneer points.
Nicholas County coach Gene Morris liked the fight he saw in his Grizzlies (7-4), who won their first playoff game in school history last week at Ritchie County.
But like many coaches, including several from good teams, he was left walking away from a celebrating Wayne club without many answers.
"They're just a complete team," Morris said. "They can throw it, they can run it, and they do a lot of things well. You can't take anything away from them, they're just a good football team from top to bottom. They've got a lot of good athletes, they have good coaching, and all of those elements together make them a good program."
Brandon Spurlock eventually got into the touchdown act himself, opening up the second-half scoring with a 3-yard trot to paydirt.
Perhaps the only negatives Wayne could take away from Friday night were injuries to both Brandon Spurlock and Hodge in the third quarter.
Spurlock seemed to be headed for another long touchdown before pulling up lame and grabbing his hamstring. Meanwhile, Hodge went down clutching his leg before eventually hobbling off under his own power.
Harmon said he expected both to be OK for next week.
Ferguson completed 8 of 13 passes for 178 yards while Zack Cassidy had five catches for 63 yards. James Egnor added 86 yards on 10 carries for Wayne.
Wil Mayes ran 13 times for 60 yards to lead Nicholas County while Tyler Sagraves completed 6 of 18 passes for 31 yards with an interception.
Wayne will host No. 4 Robert C. Byrd next week in a semifinal game. The time and date will be determined Sunday.
Reach Ryan Pritt at 304-348-7948, firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow him at twitter.com/RPritt.