Midland's Tyler Hayes reacts after sacking Morgantown quarterback Mark Johnson.
ONA, W.Va. - On what turned out to be a special night for Cabell Midland, David Gaydosz turned in one very special play.Gaydosz sprinted 96 yards for the go-ahead touchdown late in the third quarter Friday night and Midland rode the wave of momentum all the way to a 35-28 victory over Morgantown in the Class AAA semifinals, giving the Knights their first-ever spot in the state finals.Unbeaten Midland (13-0), the No. 1 playoff seed and a program in existence since 1994, takes on No. 2 Martinsburg at noon on Dec. 1 at Wheeling Island Stadium in the AAA championship game.Lowell Farley had three short TD runs for Midland, and Gaydosz blazed his way for 300 yards on 22 carries, including the long-distance sprint that turned the game around for good.
"I had no idea we could do this,'' Farley said. "Before the season, I thought we could, but when I was a sophomore? No chance. But with all the work my guys on this team put into it, I think they deserve this.''Morgantown (10-3), the No. 5 seed, took the lead twice and was in front 21-14 at halftime, but the outcome hinged on back-to-back plays late in the third quarter.With the game tied at 21, the Mohigans looked ready to drive 77 yards to regain the lead. On third-and-4 from the Midland 27, Morgantown running back Shane Commodore burst through the line and rambled toward the Knights goal.As many as three defenders latched onto Commodore as he ran and seemed intent on ripping the ball free. Finally, someone did at the 5 and the ball bounced into the hands of Jared Bradley, who returned it from the 5 to the 25.Midland was cited for an illegal block on the play, backtracking the ball to its own 4. From there on first down, Gaydosz hit the line and found nothing, but was able to bounce off the pile and head around left end. In the flat, he got a clearing block and was able to leg out a 96-yard touchdown with one minute to go in the third period."I kept my legs moving,'' Gaydosz said. "I had that cutback lane, and my wide receivers blocked that corner and I ran it, buddy.''
Morgantown nearly caught up again, driving all the way to a first down at the Midland 17, but three straight Mark Johnson passes fell incomplete from the 16 and the Knights took over with 7:32 left in the game.Again, Gaydosz provided the big play in the possession with a 59-yard gain to the Morgantown 9. Three Farley runs later, the final one from the 1, Midland increased its lead to 35-21 with just 3:48 to and was able to weather a final Mohigans score with 22 seconds remaining."These kids and these coaches sold out for what we've taught them,'' said Midland coach Luke Salmons. "It's all about them. They've believed since Day 1, since June, that they were going to play for the state championship.''Gaydosz also set school single-season records for rushing yardage and points on Friday. He came into the game with 1,886 yards and 26 total TDs.
However, Morgantown might have had enough to upset the Knights if not for a pair of turnovers inside the Midland 10-yard line. Commodore (16 carries, 163 yards, one TD) also lost a fumble running near the Knights 5 late in the first quarter and the ball squirted out of the end zone, giving Midland a touchback and the ball at its own 20.
"Penalties and turnovers killed us, I'm aware of that,'' said Mohigans coach John Bowers with a sigh."Give our kids a ton of credit, though, and give their kids a ton of credit. It was a great football game. Both teams played so hard. I'm just so happy to share this night with our youngsters.''Momentum swayed wildly back and forth in the first half as Morgantown took a 21-14 lead at the break with three huge plays - a 60-yard TD burst by Commodore, a 31-yard interception return by Alex Weidman and a 44-yard pass to Blaine Stewart by Johnson.Midland churned out 65 yards on 13 plays, shaving almost five minutes off the clock to go up 7-0 on a Farley 5-yard run. It took the Mohigans 10 seconds to reply as Commodore shot up the middle and into the clear for his TD run.The Knights got a 63-yard sprint by Gaydosz to the Morgantown 1 to take their second lead at 14-13 on Farley's 1-yard run.
Morgantown went back in front after Jordan Malone picked off a Coy Pettit pass and returned it 13 yards to the Knights 46 in the second quarter.After each team was hit with a penalty, it took just one play for the Mohigans to take the lead - a 44-yard hookup from Johnson to Stewart, who had worked his way well behind the entire Midland secondary.Midland missed a golden opportunity to catch up just before halftime.After a 47-yard Gaydosz punt pinned the Mohigans at their own 1-yard line, Midland got it back and drove 55 yards to the Morgantown 2 - aided by a 29-yard pass from Pettit to Kasey Thomas tip-toeing the sideline - and faced second-and-goal with two seconds, time for one play.After a timeout, the Knights opted to toss the ball to Gaydosz on a short-side sweep, but he was forced out of bounds inches shy of the pylon by Malone as the half ended.Midland led in time of possession 16:40-7:20 in the first half and ran 44 plays to Morgantown's 14."I'm not lying, I was a little nervous at halftime,'' Farley said. "But we came out in the third quarter and scored and I felt the momentum just rising. I knew we could take it over. I didn't get nervous after that.''Farley ended with 97 yards on 25 carries as the Knights rolled up 449 yards on 58 rushing plays.Reach Rick Ryan at 304-348-5175 or firstname.lastname@example.org.