ST. MARYS, W.Va. — Over its first two games, St. Marys overcame early deficits and put together a dominant second half on both occasions to score wins.
The Class A No. 2 Blue Devils followed that script again Thursday in their home opener, falling behind early against Wirt County and scoring all 20 of the game’s points in the second half to prolong an unbeaten start to this season with a 34-12 victory at Bill Hanlon Stadium.
“It’s special when you have fighters — and that’s what we have,” St. Marys head coach Jodi Mote said. “I’m proud of these young men. It’s early and we’re only done with three games of a 10-game schedule, but it’s going in the right direction.”
Ryan Kent’s 7-yard touchdown pass to Josiah DeMoss — one of three scoring strikes between that duo — tied the game at 12 just past the midway point of the second quarter, and Kent’s successful two-point run put the Blue Devils on top to stay. Still, with St. Marys (3-0) leading 14-12 at halftime, the Blue Devils’ work was far from done and they played like it over the final two frames.
After forcing a three-and-out to start the second half, St. Marys wasted little time adding to its lead, covering 62 yards on three plays and a Tigers’ penalty, with Kent’s 14-yard touchdown run making it an eight-point margin. The St. Marys quarterback followed with his second successful run on a two-point play, leaving the Blue Devils with a 22-12 advantage and the game’s first two-score lead.
“He was able to make things happen and he’s a team player and did a nice job,” Mote said. “We were able to run some trap plays with the quarterback and [tailback Ashton Boron]. That’s kind of how we game-planned.”
Wirt County (2-2) converted one fourth down on its ensuing series, but faced another in the red zone and Tyler Smith’s pass sailed incomplete on fourth-and-5 from the St. Marys’ 17-yard line with 2:50 left in the third quarter.
Despite Kent’s 44-yard run on the Blue Devils’ first play of their following series, WCHS forced a turnover on downs and got the ball back trailing by 10. But after picking up one first down, the Tigers were forced to punt, and the Blue Devils followed by putting together an 11 play touchdown drive that covered 63 yards and ended with Kent finding DeMoss on an 11-yard scoring pass. Although the two-point try was unsuccessful, St. Marys held a 28-12 lead with 4:07 remaining.
“The effort was good. Our kids played hard,” Wirt head coach Jason Hickman said. “Chase Parsons is our motor. He tried to go, but he couldn’t hardly move out there. He had a bad ankle and he’s trying to gut it out. He is the spark plug for us and our energy. When he’s down like that, it kind of brings everybody down. It was tough to deal with. Our tried to fight through the adversity but in the end, just too many mistakes.”
Ashton Boron’s 15-yard touchdown run with 3:09 left put a wrap on the scoring. The Tigers got inside the St. Marys 5 on their final possession, before losing a fumble.
St. Marys outscored Doddridge County 22-8 in the second half of its season-opening 34-14 victory. The Blue Devils followed it up with a 45-13 victory at Oak Glen despite trailing 13-0 in the second quarter.
“We have a great group of young guys and they had some ideas,” Mote said. “My staff does a great job and we worked together and came out in the second half and were able to establish some things.”
Kent connected with DeMoss for a 50-yard touchdown pass on the third play from scrimmage in the contest, with DeMoss doing the bulk of the damage after the catch.
“We have guys that aren’t me guys and everything is about the team,” Mote said. “There’s a lot of unsung heroes. [DeMoss] is focused on the team and trying to get better and trying to perform on game nights. That’s what we try to do both as adults and players.”
That allowed the Blue Devils to lead 6-0 just 1:03 into the contest, but Wirt County answered immediately with Chase Parsons’ 2-yard touchdown run to pull even 53 seconds later. One play before Parsons plunged into the end zone, Smith threw a 42-yard pass to Brody Ewing.
St. Marys’ Shane Moran intercepted a Channing Lowe pass on the Tigers’ second series, before Wirt put together a go-ahead scoring drive that was finished off by Smith’s 7-yard touchdown pass to Ewing. Following a penalty before the two-point play, the Tigers completed a pass, but came up inches short of the goal line, which kept it a 12-6 lead 55 seconds into the second quarter.
Unfortunately for Wirt, which began the season with consecutive victories before last week’s loss to defending state champion Williamstown, that marked the Tigers’ final points in what amounted to a second straight setback.
“We didn’t want a moral victory. We came to try and win the game,” Hickman said. “At the same time, we played the No. 1 team in the state last week and we’re playing a top six or eight team this week. I told the kids we have to stick together through these tough times. We competed with Williamstown for a while and had the lead at the end of the first quarter. We just have to turn that into four quarters.”
Kent was 6-for-11 with 118 yards and three touchdowns. He also rushed for 78 yards in the win.
Boron’s 148 rushing yards led all players.
Chase Lowe led the Tigers with 84 rushing yards and Smith completed half of his 16 passes for 145 yards.