HURRICANE — Jakob Caudill did it again to Hurricane.
Cabell Midland’s senior fullback powered his way for 154 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 26 carries and was instrumental in helping run out the clock Friday evening as the Knights made off with a 28-20 victory in battle of top-five Class AAA teams at Redskin Stadium.
Midland senior quarterback Jaydyn Johnson chipped in with 108 yards and two TDs on 15 carries and the unbeaten Knights made a key defensive stop at midfield with 3:40 remaining in the game to help seal the win.
The Knights (4-0) came into the game fifth in the AAA playoff ratings, two spots behind the Redskins (2-1), but really hadn’t been tested, with their first three wins coming by 35, 35, and 42 points. They were tested Friday, and trailed 14-13 at halftime against the short-handed Redskins.
“This is good,’’ said Midland coach Luke Salmons. “The best thing that could happen to us. Our kids didn’t know how to react [being behind], and that’s good. Hurricane’s got a good football team.
“I was really happy at halftime. As a coach, I don’t know who we are. The kids had heart. We had two kids go out with injuries and kids stepped up. I liked this game better than any game we’ve been part of this year because it showed we had some heart. I felt like we kept churning and churning and eventually wore them down.’’
The 213-pound Caudill was a big part of that churning, as he provided nearly half of Midland’s 315 rushing yards. With his team ahead 21-20 in the fourth quarter, he carried 11 times over the final two drives and picked up 76 yards and five first downs to keep the clock moving. The first drive, ending in a Johnson 9-yard TD run, put the Knights up 28-20 and the second ended the game, chewing off the final 3:40 after the big defensive stop near midfield.
It brought to mind last year’s game against Hurricane in which Midland lost its top two quarterbacks and its starting tailback to injuries during the game, but Caudill didn’t relent, racking up 173 yards and two TDs on 29 carries in a 20-16 victory. Midland had to go 98 yards on its winning drive that night, with Caudill bursting through for 39 yards on one play of that possession, then tallying on a 2-yard run with 2:44 left.
“Whenever you’re in a big game,’’ Salmons said, “you have a lot of trust and faith in all your team, but Caudill’s been there. He fumbled tonight, but he’s mad at himself more than anybody because he don’t want to let himself down. He’s a big-time player, and he’s hard to stop.’’
Hurricane rode the efforts of junior quarterback Ismael Borrero in taking the lead at halftime. He scored on a 2-yard run in the first quarter to put the Skins up 7-0, and heaved a 35-yard touchdown pass to Chase Hager with 50 seconds left until halftime to make it 14-13 in favor of Hurricane.
However, the Redskins had just three second-half possessions as Midland kept hogging the ball. The first was a three-and-out after a nice gain on a pass to Hager was wiped out by a lineman downfield, the second was a masterful 12-play touchdown drive in which the Skins overcame a first-and-32 situation, and the final one ended at the Midland 49 with 3:40 left when Brogan Brown was stacked up for no gain on fourth-and-1.
“We shot ourselves in the foot,’’ said Hurricane coach Jeremy Taylor. “Dumb penalties ... that’s the sign of an undisciplined football team, and that’s on me. We’ll take care of that on Monday.
“Cabell Midland’s a heck of a football team — but know what? So are we. We’re pretty good. I’m excited for these kids. We ran the ball, we threw at will, we did a lot of things. We just shot ourselves. They’re the best football team in the state right now, no doubt ... they’re No. 1. But we’re close. We’re really close.’’
Hurricane played without leading rusher and top linebacker Tyrone Washington, who came in close proximity to someone who might have tested positive for COVID-19, so he was held out of the game. The Skins managed just 88 yards on 27 rushing plays, with Jeremiah Riffle gaining 54 yards on 17 carries. Borrero hit on 12 of 23 passes for 167 yards and ran eight times for 49 yards.
Another hard-luck moment for Hurricane came when Borrero threw his second TD pass, a 1-yarder to Hager with 10:01 left in the game to bring his team within 21-20. The extra-point kick was blocked, keeping Midland in front. Hager ended with six catches for 69 yards.