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East Hardy Downs Donahue

November 20, 2011
By RICK THORP - Staff Writer ( , The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

BAKER - For 43 minutes and 9 seconds of Saturday's West Virginia Class A quarterfinal, Bishop Donahue stood toe-to-toe with unbeaten East Hardy.

It was the other 4 minutes and 51 seconds that did the Bishops in.

East Hardy turned a tie game into a 19-point lead during that stretch of time and went on to a 40-26 triumph at the East Hardy High School Athletic Complex.

The Cougars (11-0) advance to face Wheeling Central at 1:30 p.m. Saturday for a ticket to the Class A championship game.

''This is the first time East Hardy has advanced past the quarterfinals,'' an elated Cougars coach Chad Williams said.

''I love (Wheeling Island Stadium). It's a beautiful stadium.

''Central is the measuring stick in Class A and has been for about the last 10 years or so. So, if we're gonna do this, we'll have to get past them eventually.''

For years, East Hardy has watched its neighbor to the west - and chief rival - Moorefield make plenty of noise at the Super Six.

Now, it's another Hardy County team poised to make history.

''We came out struggling,'' Williams said. ''Bishop Donahue has the best defense we've seen this season and they're definitely the best team we've seen this year.

''We were just able to break it open in the second quarter.''

With the game tied at 8-8, East Hardy turned the first of seven Bishop Donahue turnovers into a six-play scoring drive which was capped by a 24-yard touchdown run by all-state quarterback candidate Kollin Foltz. Foltz's extra-point attempt missed, but the Cougars still led 14-8.

On the ensuing kickoff, East Hardy successfully attempted an onside kick and set up shop at the Bishops' 49.

Coach John Durdines' squad forced a punt, but Shawn Childers' kick ended up at the Donahue 5.

The Bishops were also forced to punt from deep in their end zone, setting the Cougars up with good field position at the Donahue 35.

Three plays later, Foltz found Shawn Skovron for a 9-yard touchdown pass. Foltz's PAT attempt failed and the score stood at 20-7.

The Bishops found themselves pinned deep in their own territory again on their ensuing possession.

Faced with a third-and-23 at the 6, quarterback Cody Ballard uncorked a pass over the middle. The throw was tipped by East Hardy's Jamie Miller and into the hands of teammate Joshua Parker, who returned the first of four interceptions 20 yards for the score. Foltz made good on the PAT and the lead ballooned to 27-8.

Bishop Donahue (8-4) needed a big drive and got it as the second quarter wound down.

An Ollie Parker 6-yard run, followed by a 28-yard run on a reverse by Tyler Zahnow got the ball into Cougars territory.

Ballard then hit Jordan Bonar for 15 yards. Parker followed with an 11-yard jaunt and Bonar added a 6-yard carry.

Later in the drive, Ballard hit Garrett Yurisko for 11 on third down.

Then, two plays later, Ballard found Yurisko from 9 yards out for the duo's second touchdown of the day that trimmed the lead to 27-14 and gave the Bishops a momentum boost.

There was still 47.5 seconds left in the half and East Hardy took advantage.

After stopping Foltz for a 3-yard loss on the first play of the drive, Foltz found Parker down the left sideline for 46 yards.

On the next play, Foltz dropped back and scrambled for what seemed like an eternity. Eventually, he found Levi Beck in the back of the end zone for the touchdown and a 33-14 halftime lead.

''On that play (Foltz) ran around for what seemed like 20 seconds,'' Williams said. ''That was one of the best play's I've ever seen.

''He played a heckuva game. A really gutsy effort.''

The Cougars scored again on the opening drive of the second half to make the score 40-14.

Bishop Donahue rallied with two scores in the fourth quarter, but it was too little too late.

''We just had so many turnovers,'' Durdines said. ''The kids never quit. They showed great heart throughout the game and played 48 minutes.''

Ballard finished with 215 yards passing, 4 yards better than Foltz, the state's passing leader.

''Defensively, I thought we did what we needed to do,'' Durdines said. ''And offensively, we didn't have to punt that much, we just kept turning the ball over.

''They weren't stopping us, we were stopping ourselves and you can't have that in a game of this magnitude.''

Durdines was proud of his team, which followed last season's storybook season with another stellar campaign.

''We had big expectations,'' he said. ''The kids we had got lots of playing last year. I would expect nothing less than what they gave me this year.

''They gave me incredible effort. I enjoyed every minute and couldn't be more proud of them.''

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