NEW MARTINSVILLE - With Wahama driving for the winning score, senior Zack Wamsley wanted the ball in his hands.
Well, guess his foot will have to do.
Wamsley connected on a 27-yard field goal with 25 seconds remaining as No. 3 Wahama stunned No. 2 Magnolia, 10-7, on Saturday afternoon at Alumni Field in the West Virginia Class A quarterfinals.
Magnolia’s Drew Keller (21) looks to stay out of the grasp of a Wahama defender during Saturday’s West Virginia Class A semifinal at Alumni Field. The White Falcons won in the closing seconds, 10-7.
Photo by Alex Kozlowski
The White Falcons (13-0) return to Wheeling Island Stadium for the second time in three seasons when they face Weirton Madonna on Saturday. Wahama lost in the 2010 title game to Wheeling Central.
''I wouldn't want the game to be in anyone else's hands but mine because I feel I have complete control over it,'' Wamsley said. ''I'm not gonna lie, I about had a heart attack.
''I'll take a win no matter how it is, especially against a big, physical team like that.''
Wamsley's kick had plenty of distance and was right down the middle. It was his third field goal of the season with his longest being from 35 yards out.
The 12-play drive for Wahama began after a fumble by Magnolia's Kage Rohde.
The Blue Eagles fumbled on their first play from scrimmage - an end around by Stephen Rogalski - and their last. Magnolia fumbled seven times, losing just the two. But bobbled snaps and botched handoffs hampered Magnolia's chances to move the ball.
Magnolia (11-2) got the ball at the Wahama 41 following a fumble by Colton Neal that put the Blue Eagles in good field position.
After a 12-yard gain by Rohde, the Blue Eagles were backed up by a block in the back penalty. Rohde coughed it up on the next play and Kane Roush recovered.
Roush was the workhorse on the final drive, carrying six times on sweeps that Magnolia couldn't stop.
The White Falcons reached the 9-yard line but two illegal procedure penalties backed them up. After a 3-yard gain by Neal, Trenton Gibbs was sacked by Magnolia's Jared Wright for a 6-yard loss.
On third-and-goal from the 22, Roush ran up the middle for 12 yards to make the field goal more manageable.
The snap was a little high, but Gibbs got it down and Wamsley booted the winner.
''(Gibbs) hasn't messed up any snaps all year and I knew it would get there,'' Wamsley said.
Added Wahama coach Edward Cromley: ''We took a lot of punches from them and they took a lot of punches from us. We took that last drive right down the field for the winning score. Wamsley drilled it. It was a good kick.
''He has been real good. Sometimes, he's been bad. He knew what it took and Kane Roush, Trenton Gibbs, are so committed to success. I was sure he would do a good job with it.''
On the other sideline, all the Magnolia coaching staff could do was cross their fingers and watch.
''I know they have struggled in that department all year long so we just weren't sure and you hope for the best,'' Magnolia coach Mark Batton said. ''He nailed it. That is a lot of pressure. That is a senior that had been on the Island a few years ago and he handled it.''
On the ensuing kickoff, Magnolia couldn't come up with Wamsley's squib kick and Wahama's Timmy Gibbs fell on top of it, allowing the White Falcons to kneel on the ball and seal a victory.
Magnolia took a 7-0 lead as Tanner Hanna scored on a quarterback sneak in the second quarter and took that advantage into halftime.
Wahama stuck quickly in the second half as Gibbs rolled to his right and found Neal wide open for a 54-yard score down the White Falcons sideline. It was the first pass thrown on the day by the visitors.
''We had went to our running offense but we have one pass out of it,'' Cromley said. ''Our first option was covered but Trenton Gibbs was patient enough to find the second receiver.''
Added Batton: ''We had nine or 10 guys in the box at that time and the back just slipped out. That was a formation we worked on some and we had never seen them throw out of that formation. We didn't see him and that was a nice play on them.
''I don't know if words can describe (how heartbreaking of a loss this is). I just feel bad for my seniors. What a tremendous effort they put forth and what they mean to this program and this high school and this community but that's how it goes sometimes.
''Wahama is a nice football team and have some nice players. They are very physical, hard-nosed and they were down but they bounced back. We didn't capitalize on a few of their mistakes and that is the game of football.''