WHEELING - Save for a couple special teams touchdowns, there wasn't a whole lot Wheeling Park did wrong Friday night against rival John Marshall at Wheeling Island Stadium. A stifling defense led by super outings from sophomores Theo Blackston and Chalmer Moffett forced seven turnovers, and the offense did the rest in a 62-14 Patriots (4-2) rout of the Monarchs (2-4).
Blackston came up with perhaps the team's defensive play of the year when he swarmed JM quarterback Jeremiah Fromhart and batted an attempted screen into the air. Blackston dove forward to cradle the ball in before it hit the ground as Park started one of its six possessions in Monarchs territory.
''I said to our two sophomores that played, you make sure that people go down through the program and say 'wow, they are only sophomores,' '' Daugherty said. ''I thought both of those kids played that way. This is Game 6 now, and I don't want to hear about them being sophomores because to me, they are juniors now.
Wheeling Park’s Bryce Ingram, left, looks for room to run as John
Winland closes in
Friday at Wheeling Island
''Both of those kids, I think, can be really special.''
They're were a lot of special ones Friday night. The Patriots ran up 281 yards on the ground and had five players account for six touchdowns.
Josh Dent (39 yards) scored on runs of 5 and 30. Geremy Paige bulled in from 2. Blackston broke away for a 46-yarder. Bryce Ingram (seven carries, 63 yards) cashed in from 9 and Nick Wolfe (six carries, 52 yards) scored from the 2.
Simply put, John Marshall didn't have any answers and saw its two-game winning streak snapped.
''It's not a knock on our kids, they just have more athletes,'' Monarchs coach Rick Goodrich said. ''I want to congratulate Park on a great game and tip my hat to 'Doc' for subbing as early as he did. That was a class act on his part.
''We got beat on offense, we got beat on defense and we got beat in coaching. It was just a total team loss.''
That Wheeling Park defense harassed John Marshall quarterback Jeremiah Fromhart from start to finish. The Intelligencer/Wheeling News-Register Offensive Player of the Week last week, Fromhart completed 5 of 17 for 60 yards and was intercepted five times, including by Ingram who took the ball back 86 yards to give the Patriots a 20-0 lead after the first quarter.
''I think the last two weeks our defense has played really, really well,'' Daugherty said. ''You go all the way back to University and we feel like we saw something and made a fix. We'd like to go back and play that University game again. We made a couple very slight adjustments that have made a world of difference, and it's kind of freed some of our kids up to play a little bit faster.''
Patriots quarterback Zach Phillips completed half of his 12 passes for 83 yards including touchdowns of 16 yards to Quashad Pugh and 35 to Eric Banks. Wheeling Park went for it early and often on fourth down, converting all four of its chances.
''We want to stress them out and put them in situations where you say 'OK, we expect you to execute right now,' '' Daugherty said of the attitude. ''Every time we kind of demanded of them, I thought they did it.''
The Monarchs broke the shutout when Evan Magers took a second-quarter kickoff 70 yards to paydirt. R.J. Kibert returned a kick back 85 yards in the third for the other score.
''They were disappointed obviously, because it's a big game playing a rival like Park,'' said Goodrich, whose team is off next week. ''We'll see how mature we are.
''We handled success, now let's see if we can handle adversity.''