ONA — Cabell Midland earned a 20-16 victory over Hurricane Friday night in high school football at the Castle.
The emphasis was on “earned.”
The Knights — 4-0 and ranked No. 1 in Class AAA in the Secondary School Activities Commission ratings — drove 98 yards in 12 plays for the winning touchdown with 2:44 left in the game. Jakob Caudill scored on a 2-yard plunge through the right side to cap a 29-carry, 173-yard, two-touchdown performance.
“Caudill was a beast,” Cabell Midland coach Luke Salmons said.
The Knights needed everyone they had. Missing injured starting tailback Isaiah Vaughn and co-starting quarterback Chandler Schmidt to ankle injuries, Cabell Midland lost quarterback J.J. Roberts to another ankle injury in the first quarter.
Sophomore Jackson Fetty, the No. 4 quarterback, replaced Roberts, a Wake Forest commit, and performed admirably.
“One day he worked at quarterback with our offense in practice this week,” Salmons said of Fetty, whose primary position is running back. “One day.”
Schmidt said he was impressed with his replacement.
“The fourth-string quarterback,” Schmidt said, incredulously. “We had second-stringers, third-stringers and fourth-stringers in there. They stepped up. It’s a good win.”
The injury-riddled Knights started six new players on special teams.
“We won it with special teams, too,” Salmons said.
The kicking game was huge. Palmer Riggio returned a blocked punt 40 yards for a touchdown with 11:45 remaining to tie the game 13-13. Cabell Midland also blocked an extra-point attempt and limited Redskins’ kick and punt returners throughout.
Hurricane (1-3) responded after the blocked punt with an 11-play, 59-yard drive to the Knights’ 5. Cole Bumgarner kicked a 22-yard field goal to give the Redskins a 16-13 lead with 8:04 to play.
Bumgarner kicked off and Cabell Midland’s returner bobbled the ball out of bounds at the 2-yard line.
The Knights responded with the winning drive that featured two big plays — a 39-yard run by Caudill to the Hurricane 39 and a 26-yard sprint around left end by Jaden Wroten to the Redskins’ 12.
“Wroten hadn’t played running back since midget league,” Salmons said. “We had three starters out in the backfield. That’s the program. That’s what good teams do. We found a way to win and played with a lot of heart.”
Hurricane scored on its first possession after Tyrone Washington recovered a Cabell Midland fumble at the Knights’ 47. Following three runs for 6 yards by Hill, Austin Womack threw a 46-yard touchdown pass to Chase Hager. A 5-foot-10, 175-pound wide receiver, Hager outdueled a Cabell Midland defensive back at the 10, turned and sprinted into the end zone. Bumgarner’s extra point made it 7-0.
The Knights tied it 7-7 with 34 seconds left in the first quarter when Caudill scored from the 2 and Cameron Grobe added the extra point to cap an eight-play, 63-yard drive.
Womack and Hager connected again for 34 yards during a third quarter drive that ended with Hill scoring from the 2 to put Hurricane ahead 13-7.
Womack completed 15 of 34 passes for 198 yards. Ryan Moses caught six for 102 yards.