ELLENBORO, W.Va. — Ritchie County coach Rick Haught didn’t want his team to treat Friday’s matchup with Parkersburg Catholic like another regular season game.
Haught was straightforward in letting the Rebels know the importance of the contest featuring a pair of Class A postseason qualifiers from a year ago.
Ritchie County sure played like a team with a lot to prove.
The Class A No. 8 Rebels jumped on the sixth-ranked Crusaders from the opening kickoff and never looked back in a 50-13 victory at Chuck Schofield Memorial Stadium.
“This was a huge game for us tonight and I meant that. I said to the kids it was a playoff-caliber game,” Haught said. “We need to learn to maneuver through that if we want to get to where we want to go.”
Ritchie County is now 2-0 with a pair of convincing wins over playoff teams from 2018. In their opener, the Rebels had their way with Tyler Consolidated, 58-20.
Friday’s affair wasn’t competitive for long. Gus Morrison took the opening kickoff 85 yards for a touchdown to give Ritchie a 6-0 lead 15 seconds into the action.
Parkersburg Catholic (1-1) went three-and-out on each of its first two series, before the Rebels added to their when Morrison rushed for a 23-yard touchdown on a reverse. Ethan Haught’s pass to Graden McKinney on the two-point try upped the Ritchie lead to 14-0 with 2:16 on the first quarter clock.
“It changes the complexity of the game if you can jump out in front by two or three touchdowns,” Haught said.
After forcing two more three-and-outs, the Rebels continued to pour it on. A 65-yard run from Garrett Owens moved the ball from the Ritchie 25-yard line to the Crusaders’ 10, and Owens scored three plays later on an 8-yard run. Kayden Procacina’s ran in the two-point try, leaving the Rebels with a 22-0 lead at the 8-minute mark of the second quarter.
“They were better than us and wanted it more than we did,” Crusaders’ coach Lance Binegar said.
Ritchie forced a fifth straight three-and-out, then blocked a punt to set up its next score — Owens’ 7-yard run that made it 28-0 with 2:46 to play in the first half.
“Watching film of them, I was impressed with their offense,” Haught said of PC. “They execute well and we challenged our defense all week and we worked awful hard all week. They stepped up and got us good field position, which led to some scores.”
Parkersburg Catholic finally managed a first down on its sixth and final series of the opening half, but the Rebels took the 28-point lead into halftime.
The Crusaders produced points on the opening drive of the second half, marching 53 yards in eight plays and scoring on Jeb Boice’s 8-yard run at the 7:41 mark of the third.
But the momentum was short-lived for the Crusaders, who allowed a 50-yard TD run to Tre Moss on the ensuing series to fall behind 34-7 with 5:28 on the third quarter clock.
Garrett Cunningham intercepted a Xavier Collie pass on the next series, before Owens reached pay dirt from 1 yard on the first play of the fourth quarter.
“I’ve been telling anybody who will listen that we have more weapons than we did a year ago,” Haught said.
Moss added another TD run from 4 yards, before Boice answered with a 4-yard touchdown run to conclude the scoring.
The Rebels are off next week before returning to action Sept. 20 against St. Marys. The Crusaders will try to bounce back Friday at South Harrison.
“We have eight more games and the playoffs are definitely still in the picture for us,” Binegar said. “We just have to adjust and overcome.”