WAYNE, W.Va. -- No starting quarterback and no traction spelled no problem for Wayne on Friday night.
Junior running back Mason Hodge churned out 135 yards to lead a ground attack that piled up 435 yards as the No. 1 and two-time defending state champion Pioneers overcame some early miscues to take a 48-7 decision over visiting No. 8 Sissonville in the Class AA quarterfinals. A crowd of about 5,000 attended the rematch of Cardinal Conference foes in a swamp of a field, which had standing water throughout after heavy rains Friday.
Wayne (12-0), which has won 35 straight for the longest active streak in the state, will host Robert C. Byrd in next week's semifinals. The dates and times will be set Sunday. The Pioneers also played their second straight playoff game without starting junior quarterback Grant Ferguson, who sat out again with an ankle injury sustained in the season-finale win at Bluefield.
Sissonville arrived late for the game because of a wreck that snarled traffic on Interstate 64. The game started 30 minutes late to give the Indians time to warm up.
Wayne uncharacteristically had several miscues in the opening half, but once it righted the ship, the Pioneers were unstoppable. After punting once and losing two straight fumbles in the opening quarter, Wayne scored touchdowns on two of its last three possessions of the half and netted TDs on its first five possessions of the second half.
The Pioneers only managed one first down in the first quarter, but piled up 22 the rest of the way. Wayne junior tailback Steven Perry scored the first three TDs on 1-, 5- and 7-yard runs capping off long drives. And the Pioneers' defense tackled the Indians 14 times for negative yardage and came up with three interceptions and two fumble recoveries.
"We decided keeping the football the entire series was to our advantage,'' said Wayne coach Tom Harmon with tongue firmly in cheek. "We played defense the whole game. That gave our offense a chance to get things squared away. I thought after we got things squared away, we controlled the game.''
Sissonville (10-2) had several chances in the opening quarter, but couldn't cash in. The Indians' seven first-half possessions ended on three punts, turned the ball over on downs twice, senior quarterback Nathan Miller threw an interception and the end of the half ended the last one.
Sissonville took over on the Pioneers 34-yard line after forcing Wayne's first fumble, but Indians senior running back Dominic Walker was stuffed at the line of scrimmage for no gain on fourth-and-2 to turn it over on downs.
The Indians caused another turnover on a Wayne fumble and took over on the Pioneers 24, but again turned the ball over on downs after the snap from center never reached Miller and Wayne recovered the loose ball.
"I'm proud of our kids' effort,'' said Sissonville third-year coach Eddie Smolder. "We held with [Wayne] for a while. It just came down to muddy conditions. We had trouble with snaps and things like that. We had a couple of opportunities and things just didn't go our way. We just couldn't win on fourth down.''
The Indians tailback tandem of Walker and sophomore Jared Wilkinson turned in 41 yards and 51 yards, respectively. Last week in Sissonville's opening-round playoff win over Mingo Central, Wilkinson went for 199 and Walker for 125.
Sissonville also welcomed back junior wide receiver Houston Hill, the No. 2 receiver in the Cardinal Conference who sat out the Mingo Central game because of a suspension. Hill only had one reception for minus-3 yards against Wayne.
Sissonville lost 59-18 at Wayne during the regular season. The Indians only trailed 6-0 after the opening quarter then the Pioneers reeled off 31 straight points in the second period to put the game away.
Sissonville won its first playoff game since 1994 last week in knocking off No. 9 Mingo Central in the opening round. The Indians were in the postseason for the first time since 2007.
"It's been a good year for us,'' Smolder said. "We made some progress. Our seniors were 0-10 as freshmen. I'm proud of these kids with the way they've turned it around and for the seniors hanging around and believing in what we're doing.''
Wayne now stands one win shy of equaling the state's all-time winning streak of 36 in a row held by Class A Ansted (1970-73).
Reach Tommy R. Atkinson at tatkin...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-4811.