SPENCER - The fact that Oak Glen quarterback Lucas McDowell doesn't recognize the significance of Willis Reed's name didn't stop the senior from doing his best impression of the basketball Hall-of-Famer and New York Knicks legend on Saturday afternoon.
McDowell, who had left the Golden Bears' first-round Class AA playoff game at Roane County in the second quarter with a knee injury and spent much of the game on crutches, re-entered with 7:07 remaining in the fourth quarter and No. 9 seed Oak Glen clinging to a one-point lead.
He promptly gained 23 yards on a pair of rushing attempts before handing off to Dylan Davis for a 45-yard gain. Just three plays later, McDowell shoved his way into the end zone to give Oak Glen all the breathing room it needed in getting a 28-20 victory, the second playoff victory in the school's 48-year history.
Oak Glen quarterback Lucas McDowell (2) evades a Roane County defender during Saturday’s game in Spencer.
Photo by Fred Younce
Reed's name bounded about the Oak Glen sideline as McDowell returned, recalling the 1970 NBA Finals when the Knicks' forward returned from a severe thigh bruise to lead New York to a Game 7 win over the Los Angeles Lakers.
"I just realized that my team was struggling, and I could probably do something to help," said McDowell, who led the ninth-seeded Golden Bears (10-1) to a playoff quarterfinals date with No. 1 seed Point Pleasant (11-0) with the victory.
That game will be played at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday in Point Pleasant, Oak Glen Coach Tony Filberto said.
The playoff victory was the first for the Golden Bears since a 34-15 victory against North Marion in the first round of the 1993 Class AAA playoffs. Coincidentally, that triumph also came as a road underdog, as the Bears were a No. 10 seed.
The 10th win of the season marked the most victories by an Oak Glen team in school history.
"We're making history now," McDowell said. "We want to keep on making history, too."
Roane County (8-3) had stolen momentum after McDowell left the game with 5:40 remaining in the first half. The Raiders had pulled to within 14-12 before halftime when All-State running back Nathan Reynolds scored on 12-yard run with 2:23 left in the second quarter.
Still, Roane - which was playing its first home playoff game in school history - never led. Jeff Hissam took a reverse handoff on the first play of the third quarter and raced 59 yards down the right sideline to give Oak Glen a 21-12 lead.
The Raiders were able to pull within one point of the lead again 11:59 remaining in the game, when Hunter Bradley hit Dylan Cottrell with an 83-yard touchdown pass, but while McDowell was on the sideline and the Oak Glen offense was sputtering, the Golden Bear defense kept Roane from getting into its comfort zone on offense.
Reynolds, who ran for more than 1,700 yards as a junior in 2010 and entered the game with close to 800 yards after missing some time this year due to a knee injury, was held to 17 yards on 14 carries. Cottrell carried 28 times for 128 yards, but the Raiders were left effectively one-armed and missing half of their 1-2 rushing punch.
"That's a big part of what we do, and when you take that away it puts us in a tight spot," said first-year Roane County Coach Paul Burdette. "We had to rely more on the pass to try and get Dylan into open space. Hat's off to them. They had a good scheme and did a good job of executing it."
Roane had 158 yards rushing on 47 attempts, and average of 3.4 yards per carry. The Raiders completed 6-of-21 passes for 170 yards, but were picked off three times.
Coming into the game Filberto had maintained his team's success was predicated on the strength of its defense. He stressed that again after the win.
"I've been saying all year the strength of this team is in its defense. We proved that today," Filberto said. "They threw a couple balls over top of us but I don't think they generated much rushing the ball except there at the end when their quarterback was scrambling. We did a great job against their run."
McDowell led all players with 171rushing yards on 15 carries, including a 46- yard touchdown burst on the game's first play from scrimmage. Davis added 129 yards on 22 carries, and the Golden Bears finished with 372 rushing yards.
Oak Glen's minus-1 yard passing set a new Class AA playoff low. The previous record was 16 for Lincoln against Richwood in 1993.
No. 5 Morgantown 48
No. 12 Musselman 14
MORGANTOWN - Morgantown played host to Musselman in the first round of the Class AAA playoffs. For nearly a half, the Mohigans got just about all they could handle from the Applemen.
A crucial 1:28 span changed all that late in the first half and propelled Morgantown to the victory.
The two schools traded long scoring plays early. A 63-yard touchdown pass to receiver Kevin Minehart from quarterback Mark Johnson put the Mohigans up 7-0 late in the first quarter. Midway through the second quarter, Musselman running back Josh Ferguson tied the game, 7-7 with a 48-yard touchdown run.
Soon after, things got ugly for the Applemen.
MHS scored on its next possession to take a 14-7 lead, with 2:25 left in the half. Highlighting the 8-play, 80-yard drive was a 37-yard reception by Minehart, to the Musselman 1. Running back Alex Weidman capped the drive with a 1-yard plunge.
Morgantown outgained Musselman 490-184 - 227-79 in the second half, including an 80-yard scoring drive by the Applemen, late in the fourth quarter, once the MHS starters were pulled.
No. 11 Hurricane 54
No. 6 Elkins 30
ELKINS - Sophomore quarterback Austin Hensley threw for three first-half touchdowns and ran for one during a second-half comeback as No. 11 Hurricane finally solved the single-wing offense of No. 6 Elkins (8-3) in a Class AAA first-round game.
The Redskins (8-3) fell behind 24-7 in the first half, but narrowed it to 24-19 at halftime and scored touchdowns on their first four possessions of the second half.
Hensley hit Corey May twice for TDs, and May ended up with 11 catches for 185 yards. Zach Pate carried 14 times for 103 yards and one score. Hensley hit on 16 of 25 passes with one interception for 231 yards and ran 10 times for 78 yards.
For the Tigers, Clayton Collett carried 11 times for 188 yards (including a TD runs of 77 yards), caught four passes for 115 yards (with scoring receptions of 22 and 55 yards) and returned an interception 100 yards for a fourth touchdown.
East Hardy 48, Buffalo 15
BAKER - Kollin Foltz threw for 213 yards and two touchdowns and ran for a third score Saturday to lift No. 5 East Hardy to a first-round victory against No. 12 Buffalo.
Also for the Cougars (10-0), Dustin Hinkle carried 10 times for 114 yards and three TDs. Shawn Skovron caught six of Foltz's completions for 126 yards, including scoring receptions of 80 and 17 yards. Foltz upped his state-leading TD pass total on the season to 33.
For Buffalo (7-4), Levi Jordan hit on 12-of-23 passes for 122 yards and also led his team in rushing with 56 yards on 12 carries, including a 15-yard TD run.
No. 3 Wahama 31
No. 14 Pocahontas County 20
POINT PLEASANT - It took longer than veteran Wahama head coach Ed Cromley and his White Falcons to get untracked, but once they did they pulled away.
Senior Anthony Grimm rushed for a game-high 169 yards and two touchdowns as the No. 3 Falcons improved to 11-0 on the season.
Wahama advances to next weekend's quarterfinal round when they will take on Fayetteville, a 35-0 winner over Van on Friday night. The day and time will be determined today.
Pocahontas won the time of possession in the first half, but Wahama led by four, 18-14, on the scoreboard thanks to a pair of touchdowns from Grimm and a pair of defensive stops.
The Warriors took the opening kickoff and marched 67 yards in 11 plays - burning more than seven minutes off of the clock - scoring on a 3-yard run by Kyler Doss with 4:42 showing on the clock. German transfer student Georg Kuerber connected on the PAT for the 7-0 lead.
Wahama needed only 10 seconds to cut that margin to one, as Grimm took the handoff at his 32 and out-raced the Warriors to the end zone. However, a bad snap on the ensuing kickoff ended up with an incomplete pass to keep the White Falcons down by one, 7-6, with 4:26 left in the quarter.
Another long drive, this one taking eight plays for 70 yards, culminated with another three-yard scoring run by Doss and a successful PAT by Fuerber as the Warriors took a 14-6 lead after the first 12 minutes of action.
Those, however, would also prove to be the final points of the first 24 minutes for the No. 14 Warriors as Wahama's defense stiffened.
A 19-yard scoring pass from Trenton Gibbs to Isaac Lee with 6:41 left in the first half pulled the White Falcons to within two, 14-12, but the try for the two-point conversion failed and the No. 3 Class A team in the Mountain State and its fans would have to wait a little longer to enjoy their first lead of the game.
That lead came on Wahama's final possession of the half when Grimm, who finished with 114 yards on only four carries, bullied his way over from 26 yards out to push the hosts in front, 18-14,with 12 seconds left in the half.
Wahama would add a pair of six-pointers in the second half on a 22-yard run by Lee and a 30-yard pass from Gibbs to Kane Roush with 10:41 left in the game.
Pocahontas, which closed its season with a 7-4 mark, scored with 26 seconds left on a 1-yard plunge by Devon Rose. But, it would be too little, too late.
Doss was the workhorse for the Warriors as the senior carried the football 35 times for 117 yards. Skylar Knisely chipped in with 109 yards on 8-of-13 passing.