WHEELING - With Wheeling Park and Parkersburg South taking nearly 5, 6, 7 minutes off the clock on most drives, possessions were at a premium Friday night.
Go figure - the deciding score came on a first-play scoring strike.
On Wheeling Park's initial play of the fourth quarter, Eric Banks took a sweep right, cut back among a host of defenders and found nothing but the end zone on a 38-yard run that put the home team up 23-16 and the defense held tough to down Parkersburg South on Senior Night at Wheeling Island Stadium.
Wheeling Park’s Bryce Ingram breaks free Friday night vs. Parkersburg South.
''Eric is learning every day and Eric is getting better every day,'' Wheeling Park (6-3) coach Chris Daugherty said. ''Eric and Bryce (Ingram) have the capabilities to turn what should be a 5-yard gain into a 55-yard touchdown.
''They did that a couple times. Eric had a great run at a time when we needed it, but we know that. That's kind of who we are. Keep giving them the ball and sooner or later, we have the playmakers and their job is to make plays and Eric did that.''
The victory was a big shot in the arm for Daugherty's team, which entered the day ranked No. 14 in the latest West Virginia Class AAA rankings. Parkersburg South (5-4) was No. 11.
''It was a big win for Wheeling Park, a big win for these kids and a big win for the coaching staff,'' Daugherty said. ''It wasn't pretty. It was pretty ugly is what it was. But I will take it right now. That is a good football team and they made us work real hard.
''At times we hurt ourself, but I was real proud with how the kids came out in the second half and fought through adversity and made sure the win got taken care of. They battled back and did a good job of not panicking.''
Parkersburg South scored right before half on a 5-yard touchdown run from Logan Cox with 21 seconds left to give the visitors a 13-10 lead.
The Wood County Patriots extended that lead with an Issac Boles 36-yard field goal in the third quarter.
Wheeling Park answered with an 11-play drive that chewed up 5 minutes and ended with an Ingram 2-yard run. Matt Carter's extra-point attempt sailed wide left and the score remained tied.
Parkersburg South went three-and-out on the next possession and a short punt put Wheeling Park in enemy territory before Banks scored his fifth rushing touchdown of the season.
Parkersburg South had two chances to tie, the first coming on the next possession. Despite driving to the Wheeling Park 18, Jordan Quiocho was brought down short on fourth-and-1 by Boo Lathon.
Wheeling Park drove into Parkersburg South territory, taking more than 7 minutes off the clock, before giving the ball back at the South 10 with 59.1 seconds left.
South advanced to the Wheeling Park 28 with 10 seconds on the clock but three passes by quarterback Tyler Bolen fell incomplete and the Ohio County Patriots held on.
''We lost,'' Parkersburg South coach John Bolen said. ''We made a lot of big plays and we played well enough to win, I thought. They are a good team with some speed. We have a young line and they brought a lot of blitzes. Just a mistake here, a mistake there, but I am proud of my kids.
''I think we are every bit as good as them, we just didn't win. We played hard and we thought we were going to come here and win.''
Parkersburg South scored the first touchdown with a 6-yard run by Jessiah Fickeisen, a 10-play drive that took 5 minutes off the clock.
Wheeling Park answered quickly, scoring in four plays when Lee Peluchette found Vondel Bell with a 24-yard scoring strike. Carter's extra point gave Park the lead, 7-6, and he extended it to 10-6 with a 43-yard field goal on the next possession.