Crusaders top Gilmer, 28-21

PARKERSBURG – Gilmer County fought to the bitter end here Saturday night at Stadium Field, but Parkersburg Catholic held on for a wild 28-21 Little Kanawha Conference victory.

The Crusaders led 14-0 at halftime, but were totally dominated by the Titans in the third quarter as the visitors had the game even at 14 apiece following a Tristan Sparks 13-yard touchdown pass from Austin Cunningham with 10:54 left to play.

However, PCHS got a pair of big plays on senior night from 12th-grade signal-caller Payton Sturm that proved to be the difference makers.

Sturm galloped 56 yards to paydirt to give the hosts the lead for good just 2:09 after the Titans had squared the affair. Peter Keiser’s third extra point made it 21-14.

On the ensuing drive, Cunningham was picked off by Sturm and he returned it 53 yards to the Titan 31. On a fourth-and-14 play from the 34, Sturm zipped a pass to Nick Roedersheimer, who got behind the defense and scored for what looked like a safe 28-14 advantage with 5:30 remaining.

That didn’t turn out to be the case as Cunningham, who hit 18 of 30 passes for 182 yards, engineered a 69-yard scoring march to get the Titans within a touchdown. Sparks capped it with a nifty 4-yard touchdown run.

Gilmer County, which dropped to 5-4 and heads Friday to Valley (Fayette), failed to recover the onside kick, but got the ball back at its own 25 with no timeouts and 40.6 ticks to go.

Austin Ratliff, who finished with a dozen receptions for 126 yards while also adding 89 rushing yards on 13 attempts, hauled in passes of 24, 4 and 32 yards to set up the final play of the game. Gilmer County had the ball with 3.1 seconds left at the PCHS 15, but a pass in the back corner of the end zone went incomplete.

Sparks rushed for a game-high 160 yards on 21 attempts and his 24-yard touchdown run where he made a pair of Crusader defenders miss behind the line of scrimmage got the Titans on the board at 7:46 of the third.

Jake Boice amassed all but 6 of his team-high 136 ground yards in the first half, where he had 11 of his baker’s dozen attempts. Boice gave PCHS its first lead at 6:10 of the first when he scored from the 1 and also added a 54-yard scoring romp 4:38 of the second.

Gilmer County defensive tackle Matthew Montgomery had a pair of stuffs on Boice for negative yardage during the Crusaders’ first drive, but PCHS was able to find more success on the edge as the game went on.

Current No. 16 Parkersburg Catholic, which hopes its 7-3 regular season will be enough to earn a Class A playoff berth, had six fumbles and lost three. That included one which went out of the end zone for a touchback. Sparks and Ty Harkleroad, who had three receptions for 38 yards, each had a fumble recovery.

Gilmer County, which won the total yards battle 431-385, was flagged 16 times for 124 yards. PCHS, which lost junior lineman Evan Summers to a leg injury on the Sturm interception return, committed nine penalties for 95 yards. Sturm hit 5 of 11 aerials for 77 yards and added 126 rushing yards on 18 attempts. Roedersheimer (3-55) was his top target.

Magnolia 24,

Steubenville Catholic 0

STEUBENVILLE, Ohio – Visiting Magnolia stayed alive for a Class A playoff berth here Saturday night with a 24-0 shutout of Steubenville Catholic.

The now 5-4 Blue Eagles were sparked by Drew Keller, who rushed 37 times for 187 yards and three of the four Magnolia touchdowns from one, 42 and two yards out.

In all, the 18th-ranked Blue Eagles turned 49 carries into 247 yards and all four scores.

On Friday, Oak Glen (0-9) is at Magnolia with the Blue Eagles needing a win to hopefully secure a spot in the West Virginia playoffs.