WHEELING, W.Va. – Williamstown erased a 20-0 deficit, blocked a potential game-winning extra point from St. Marys (13-1) and stuffed the Blue Devils’ two-point try at the end of the third-overtime – all of that combined to result in a football state championship for Williamstown (12-2), beating St. Marys 33-32 in triple-overtime.
A flurry of late-game dramatics in the Class A championship on Saturday night were the highlights of what had been a Super Six filled with two previous lop-sided games.
“I tell you what, that was really exciting,” said Williamstown coach Terry Smith. “St. Marys is just so good – their backs are so good, along with their line. Our guys just fought like crazy and hung in there. We were able to play one more play to last a little bit longer.”
That one play was a defensive stop of St. Marys running back Jeremy Pratt on a two-point conversion try up the middle that decided the final score and ultimate Class A state champion.
“That was awesome – our defensive line and linebackers did a great job on that play,” said Williamstown quarterback Dakota Watson. “We just stuffed them.”
Watson anchored the comeback for the Yellowjackets, finishing with 116 rushing yards and three touchdowns. He also completed 4 of 12 passes for 73 yards, a touchdown and an interception in the win.
That touchdown pass came in the first possession of the third-overtime, a 27-yard strike to Hunter Neely which put Williamstown up 33-26 after the extra point.
“We didn’t really throw the ball a whole lot throughout the game,” Watson said. “But that was a play that worked against them in the last game and it worked again.”
In the first overtime, Williamstown kept its championship hopes alive by blocking a potential game-winning extra point try from St. Marys that was low. The Blue Devils, who usually go for two-point conversions, opted for the extra point try and the win with the game tied at 26-26.
“On the block, I thought we got a little penetration but I didn’t know if that ball was going to go in anyway,” Smith said. “St. Marys hadn’t kicked in the two games previous. We didn’t know how that was going to be – we thought maybe they would line up and fake.”
“We have been practicing (extra points),” said St. Marys coach Jodi Mote. “I would have to look at the film, but obviously it didn’t work.”
Williamstown’s extra point attempt in the first overtime fell short. Neither team scored in the second overtime.
The Yellowjackets forced overtime by scoring 20 unanswered points. A critical play and momentum swing came at the beginning of the fourth quarter as St. Marys led 20-13 with the ball at the Williamstown five yardline.
On 2nd-and-goal from the five, Watson scooped up a Pratt fumble and returned it to the St. Marys 20 yardline where he was brought down by Pratt on a horse collar tackle.
Watson then left the game with a knee injury, but returned a few plays later on 4th-and-goal from the one, scoring the game-tying touchdown.
“I had no clue someone was behind me, I was just running and someone brought me down from behind,” Watson said of the fumble return. “But I knew I had to come back in and on that touchdown was great blocking by our offensive line.
“My knee was really sore initially – my knee cap sometimes moves out of place and pops back in,” he continued. “I’ve had this injury before, last year, so it wasn’t something that was new to me.”
Another key turnover for St. Marys came at the end of the first half. With under a minute to go St. Marys had the ball deep in its own territory – Williamstown forced a fumble and the ball popped into the air where Williamstown’s Darren Hastings snagged it and took the ball in for a touchdown, closing the Blue Devils’ lead to 20-13 just before the break.
Pratt opened up the scoring with a three-yard touchdown on the Blue Devils’ opening drive. Just two minutes later, quarterback Evan Illar connected with Bret Fetty for a 64-yard touchdown pass. St. Marys completed the quick start with an eight-yard touchdown run from Jason Allen three minutes later.
It was a heart-breaking way to lose for the Blue Devils, playing in their first football state championship game. St. Marys, by far, had the loudest – and largest – crowd of the entire Super Six.
“That’s just a tough loss,” Mote said. “But the kids have had a great year and you can’t say enough about the kids. It’s the first time in 101 years that we got to the championship and the environment says a lot about our fans and their fans. But that’s just a tough way to lose.”
It’s the second time in three years that the Class A final has gone into overtime. In 2012, Wahama defeated Madonna 43-42 on a successful two-point conversion at the end of the first extra session.
Overall, St. Marys outgained Williamstown in yardage, 320-201. Pratt rushed for 78 yards and a touchdown, while Corey Stewart added 78 yards and two touchdowns in the loss for the Blue Devils.
It’s the first football state championship for Williamstown since 2008.
“I talked about vindication before and I think we do things right,” Smith said. “We’ve had our ups and downs, but for the kids that hang in there, we’ll win. I’m not being cocky, but I think we’ve proven that we do things right.”