WHEELING, W.Va. - It took a long year of waiting, but Madonna's players and coaches finally got to experience Wheeling feeling again, and this time it was the emotion they wanted all along.
Ross Comis accounted for 252 yards and three touchdowns Saturday night as the No. 1 Blue Dons capped an unbeaten season with a 24-14 victory over Greenbrier West in the Class A finals at frigid Wheeling Island Stadium.
It was the second state championship for Madonna (14-0), matching the one it took in 2009. Greenbrier West (12-2), the No. 7 seed, was appearing in the state finals for the first time since 1991.
Madonna wiped out memories of last year's Super Six trip, an agonizing 43-42 overtime loss to Wahama regarded as one of the best title games since the series moved from Laidley Field to Wheeling in 1994.
Comis, a senior quarterback, ran 35 times for 129 yards and one TD Saturday and completed 5 of 7 passes for 123 yards, including third-quarter scoring strikes of 43 and 34 yards to Will Bowser.
"Awesome. I love these guys,'' Comis said. "The feeling was unbelievable after this game. Last year wasn't what we expected, not what we wanted.''
The Cavaliers made a game of it after trailing 7-0 at halftime.
They scored on a Corey Cox 2-yard run in the third quarter to tie it and, following the TD tosses to Bowser less than four minutes apart, shaved their deficit back to 21-14 on QB Malik Boatwright's 1-yard run with 10:03 remaining in the game.
However, Madonna then went up two scores on a crucial drive in which it gained only 11 yards but received 57 yards on four penalties against West.
The most damaging was a 15-yarder for a late hit on Comis after Marquis Frazier had sacked Comis for a 9-yard loss on third down, which would have forced a Blue Dons punt. With 8:50 left, Madonna had new life and eventually settled for Matthew Green's 22-yard field goal with 6:12 to go.
"That one series was difficult with all the penalties,'' said West coach Lewis McClung. "We lost our composure a little bit there and didn't hear the whistle. I heard it, but I guess we didn't. It was what it was.
"It was huge because it was third down and we held there. We had a little bit of momentum going because we'd just scored. Then we get that penalty and it caught up with us. I thought that was the turning point of the game.''