— Story and highlights by Daniel Woods
PARKERSBURG, W.Va. — With 10:51 to play in the third quarter, Parkersburg trailed Wheeling Central Catholic by two scores and looked to be in jeopardy of falling to 0-2 on the season.
From that point forward, junior quarterback Bryson Singer accounted for four of his five touchdowns on the night and the Big Reds’ defense forced three of its five turnovers as PHS scored 31 unanswered points to claim its first win of the season, 38-21.
A Jordan Waterhouse fumble on Wheeling Central’s opening drive set the tone for what became a sloppy game between two team looking to get back on track after rough results in week one.
Singer continued the trend of poor ball control on the ensuing possession, nearly coughing it up once before Central’s Riley Watkins fell on top of the Big Red signal caller’s second mistake in as many plays. That’s where the Knights offense began to go to work.
A steady dose of Waterhouse, mixed with a few touches for Payton Marling in the passing game, led to the night’s first score as the senior tailback took it around the right side and into the end zone from 12 yards out.
Defense looked to be the name of the game after 12 minutes with Central forcing a punt and quickly marching into Parkersburg territory. As Maroon Knight quarterback Michael Toepfer dropped to throw, Jadon Scott jumped the route, intercepting the pass and racing over the fifty yard-line before being forced out inside the 30.
Just two snaps later, Singer went back to pass and quickly found slot receiver Carter King who pulled the ball down from over his head to get the Big Reds on the board. Just as quickly as they lost the lead, Central took it back as Waterhouse rattled off back to back runs of more than 15 yards before punching it in from inside the five.
Parkersburg headed into the half trailing and needing to respond on the opening drive of the third quarter. Instead, a Singer fumble on the first play from scrimmage gave the ball right back to the Knights who scored in three plays, giving Waterhouse his third touchdown of the night.
Trailing by two scores, Bryson Singer took over. On the ensuing drive, he led his team down the field before throwing a 39-yard strike to Jordan Martin in the back of the end zone. The Big Red defense stood tall, forcing a three-and-out and putting the ball back in the hands of its star passer.
Taking the ball into inside the Wheeling Central 30, Singer fired the ball through a window to King who was brought down inside the one. This time, a quarterback sneak allowed the junior to take it himself, but Casey Stanley’s extra point was blocked, leaving the score at 21-20.
However, a strip sack by Justin Fleming deep in Central territory allowed Singer to slice around the right side, diving through multiple would-be tacklers to give Parkersburg its first lead of the night. His two-point conversion pass found Martin on a fade and just like that, PHS had stormed ahead.
However, Mike Byus’ team was not content there. Another quick stop set Singer up to race 45 yards untouched on an option keeper, making it a two-score lead at 35-21. A Toepfer fumble on the next drive put the freshman kicker Stanley in position to nail the first field goal of his career from 27 yards out and cap the scoring.
With 31 unanswered points, spearheaded by its junior quarterback, the Parkersburg Big Reds proved to be a second half team when it counted against Wheeling Central. In the losing effort, Waterhouse dashed for 144 yards and all three Maroon Knight touchdowns.
Across the field, Singer proved his perseverance, overcoming his own two fumbles to rush for 164 yards while accounting for five total touchdowns. Meanwhile, an interception and four forced fumbles gave the PHS defense one of the most impressive performances of the young season.
In a season defined by chaos off the field, Parkersburg used similar disruption on the field to claim its first win of the 2020 season in spectacular fashion.