NEW CUMBERLAND, W.Va. — Oak Glen head coach Ted Arneault is well aware many people continue to question how good the No. 6 Golden Bears are despite an unbeaten regular season unbeaten.
Just as it’s done over the last several months, Arneault’s team continues to prove the naysayers wrong.
In Saturday’s first-round playoff matchup against No. 11 Wyoming East, Oak Glen displayed all the traits that has allowed it to win every game this season. The Golden Bears got four touchdown passes from quarterback Nick Chaney, added two more on the ground and even got two defensive scores to cruise to a 55-13 win over the Warriors.
“We know our schedule and everybody criticizes us because everybody just looks at records,” Arneault said. “But if you look at the teams we played, they have quality wins. We don’t feel like we’re not playoff tested. That’s everybody else that thinks that way. We came into this game feeling like we’d been tested by good teams. I think we proved that today.”
The victory was Oak Glen’s first home playoff win in school history and sends the Golden Bears to Poca for a quarterfinal between teams with identical 11-0 records.
Wyoming East (8-3) put together one of its better drives to start the game, but the Warriors fumbled a reverse in the red zone, and Oak Glen’s Gage Patterson returned the recovery 88 yards to the end zone for the first points.
“Too many turnovers,” first-year Wyoming East head coach Larry Thompson said.
After the Warriors turned it over on downs on their second series, the Golden Bears covered 71 yards in nine plays and scored on Chaney’s 25-yard pass to Hunter Patterson. Michael Lemley made a one-hand catch on the 2-point pass from Chaney, allowing the Golden Bears to lead 14-0 just 7 seconds into the second quarter.
Chaney found a wide open Gage Patterson for a 57-yard touchdown pass at the 7:56 mark of the second, and the duo connected on the 2-point play to up the lead to 22-0.
“We try to mix things up,” Arneault said. “The key to success in this game was offensively mixing it up. We need to run and pass, show formations and give different looks to not be one dimensional or too predictable.”
Oak Glen made one of its few mistakes late in the opening half. After starting a series at the Warriors’ 30, Chaney was intercepted by Chase York, who returned it 75 yards to get Wyoming East on the scoreboard 1:11 before halftime.
However, any chance for the Warriors to go to the break with momentum on their side was quickly erased. Wyoming East allowed Chaney to throw a 22-yard touchdown pass to Brayden Mineard on fourth-and-6 with only 8 seconds left in the half, which gave Oak Glen a 28-7 advantage.
“We were without Zach Taylor from his ejection in Week 10. We needed some guys to step up and really make things happen, and they did,” Arneault said.
The Golden Bears quickly put the game out of reach in the second half. Chaney found an uncovered Hunter Patterson for a 43-yard touchdown on the fifth play of the third quarter, and Warriors’ quarterback Seth Ross had a pass intercepted and returned 77 yards for a score by Lemley on the ensuing series.
“Wyoming East came in with a good game plan and gave us some trouble in the first quarter,” Arneault said. “But our defense held up and they were just outstanding. Props to our defense for the turnovers and holding down the explosive plays and making stuff happen.”
Paxton Shuman’s 6-yard TD run with 4:26 left in the third gave the Golden Bears a 49-7 lead.
In the fourth, Landon Beatty scored on a 1-yard run for the Golden Bears, before Ross’ 50-yard TD pass to Jacob Bishop capped the scoring in the contest.