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Wahama beats Magnolia on FG

November 25, 2012
By JIM BUTTA - Special to the Herald-Star

NEW MARTINSVILLE - Wahama senior Zack Wamsley is a man of few words, but when the White Falcons standout speaks, everyone listens.

"I wouldn't want the game in anybody's else's hands, but mine," Wamsley said following No. 3 Wahama's 10-7 victory over No. 2 Magnolia. "That's not to take anything away from my teammates, because we wouldn't have been in that position if it hadn't been for them.

"I just have that much faith in myself."

That faith paid off Saturday afternoon at Magnolia High School as Wamsley's 27-yard field goal with 25.3 seconds left in the game broke a 7-7 tie and returned the Mason Countians to the Class A championship game for the second time in three years with a 10-7 victory over the No. 2 Blue Eagles.

"To be honest, we haven't even given it (the championship game) any thought," said Wahama head coach Ed Cromley. "When you get to this stage, if you make the mistake of looking ahead, you're collecting uniforms on Monday."

Instead, Cromley and his White Falcons, who lost to Wheeling Central in the 2010 title game, will prepare to No. 4 Madonna, a 20-14 double-overtime winner over No. 1 Tucker County in Saturday's other semifinal.

Fact Box

No. 3 Wahama 10, No. 2 Magnolia 7

Wahama 0 0 7 3 - 10

Magnolia 0 7 0 0 - 7

M: Hanna 1 run (Raitmayr kick)

W: Neal 54 pass from Gibbs (Wamsley kick)

W: FG 27 Wamsley

Game stats

Wahama: First downs: 8. Rushes-yards: 39-88. Passing yards: 63. Total yards: 147. Passing: 2-2-0. Fumbles-lost: 4-2. Punts-average: 3-36.0. Penalties-yards: 6-45.

Magnolia: First downs: 12. Rushes-yards: 35-99. Passing yards: 90. Total yards: 189. Passing: 7-11-2. Fumbles-lost: 7-2. Punts-average: 2-33.5. Penalties-yards: 5-55.

Individual stats

Wahama: Rushing: Kane Roush 11-61, Zack Wamsley 11-41. Passing: Trenton Gibbs 2-2-0, 63 yards, 1 TD. Receiving: Crandale Neal 1-54, TD; Austin Cole 1-9.

Magnolia: Rushing: Drew Keller 14-76, Kage Rohde 13-54. Passing: Tanner Hanna 7-11-2, 90 yards. Receiving: Stephen Rogalski 4-84.

"This is great, but it is especially great for our seniors," continued Cromley. "Trenton (Gibbs), Zack (Wamsley) and Crandale (Neal) have really dedicated themselves to this season and their leadership has been key to our team's success this year."

The trio, as well as junior running back Kane Roush, were key to the White Falcons' victory on Saturday.

Trailing 7-0 at the intermission, Wahama took the second half kickoff and needed only three plays to even the score when Gibbs, who completed both of his passes against the Blue Eagles, found a wide open Neal behind the Magnolia secondary for a 54-yard score with 10:50 showing on the third quarter clock.

Wamsley's PAT knotted the contest at seven and appeared as if it would be the final points of regulation until a fumble recovery by the visitors' Garrett Miller gave Wahama a first-and-10 at the White Falcons' 45.

Six runs and one 9-yard completion to Austin Cole later, Wahama found itself with a first-and-goal at the Blue Eagles' 9.

Back-to-back procedure calls, however, put the White Falcons at the 19 facing a first-and-goal with less than 90 seconds to play.

A 3-yard run by Neal and a 6-yard loss when Gibbs was sacked for the seventh time in the game, placed the Mason Countians in a third-and-long situation with 30 seconds remaining.

"At that point all we wanted to do was run a play and get as many yards as we could, but most importantly keep the ball in the middle of the field for Zack," said Wamsley.

A 12-yard run by Roush, who finished with 61 yards on 11 carries, did exactly that -placing the ball at the Magnolia 10.

Wamsley, who had hit on both his field goal attempts during the regular season, made the most of his shortened attempt, drilling the 27-yarder through the uprights for the winning points.

"We had all the faith in the world with him (Wamsley)," said Cromley. "He has hit them from 45 yards out in practice and his long is 35 yards, so we knew if we could get it off, he could hit it."

He did and then sophomore Timmy Gibbs recovered the ensuing kickoff to end any chance of a miracle finish by the Blue Eagles (11-2).

Defense wins championships and No. 2 Magnolia had its defense working on Saturday as the Blue Eagles limited Wahama to three first downs and only 14 total yards in the first 24 minutes to take a 7-0 lead to the locker rooms at the intermission.

Playing most of the opening half in the White Falcons' territory, Magnolia finally lit up the scoreboard when Tanner Hanna culminated a 9-play, 50-yard drive with a 1-yard plunge with 9:41 left in the second quarter. Clemens Raitmayr added the PAT and the Blue Eagles had the lead, 7-0.

Those would be the only points of the half as both prevent units came up with big plays.