PARKERSBURG — With the offensive fireworks displayed over the first three quarters, one could hardly expect that field position would play a pivotal role in the outcome of a Friday night shootout at Parkersburg.
Hurricane quarterback Austin Womack fumbled on his own 6-yard line with just over eight minutes to go, leading to a Big Reds touchdown, squelching the momentum the Redskins had gathered in a big third quarter and leading to a 42-28 win for Parkersburg in a battle of Class AAA playoff contenders.
Parkersburg exploded out of the gate, finding the end zone four times in the first quarter in building a 28-7 advantage, a lead that would reach 35-7 by the time the teams trotted into the locker room at the halftime break.
But No. 15 Hurricane refused to fade, bowing up on defense after allowing 460 yards in the first half and using three touchdown tosses from Womack to Nate Barham to close the deficit to 35-28.
“I’m pleased we played such a good first half,” Parkersburg coach Mike Byus said. “I just don’t understand why we can’t play two halves.
“They’re a good football team. I think they probably played a little flat in the first half like we did last week. You can throw us, GW and Hurricane in a hat, shake us up and we might come out different in a round robin every time.”
The Redskins (3-5) had two cracks at coming up with a tying score, but those two drives began on Hurricane’s own 14- and 11-yard lines. On the first drive, the Redskins went three-and-out. The second ended on Womack’s fumble, with Parkersburg’s Justin Waybright making the recovery.
Anthony Craig cashed in the turnover with a 1-yard TD plunge with 7:59 to go to put No. 13 Parkersburg (4-3) back up by two scores at 42-28. The ensuing Hurricane drive reached Parkersburg territory until Womack was picked off on a fourth-and-1 by Sam Potts, who returned the ball to the Hurricane 21.
The Redskins flexed on defense one more time, giving Womack a last crack, but after driving 78 yards on a whopping 21 plays, a fourth-and-goal pass from the 10 was incomplete, finally ending a game that lasted more than three hours.
While Womack had good moments and bad, Parkersburg sophomore quarterback Bryson Singer looked unstoppable early. Singer had 223 yards passing, 160 yards rushing and five combined touchdowns in the first half.
But after 22 first-half first downs, Parkersburg mustered just one in the second half, allowing Hurricane to claw its way back into the game. Singer finished with 234 yards on 10-of-19 passing to go with 171 yards on 25 carries. Braeden Mason caught three of those touchdown heaves in the first half, hauling in six passes for 157 yards, including a 90-yarder, which accounted for the only score in the second quarter.
Also killing Parkersburg in the second half were penalties. The Big Reds finished with 14 of them for 83 yards, compared to just five flags for Hurricane.
“We started our second half off with two straight drives with lack-of-focus penalties and missed assignments,” Byus said. “That takes you out of drives and you keep giving them chance, chance, chance, chance … We’ve just got to quit shooting ourselves in the foot.”
Hurricane running back Christian Hill could never get the ground game going, finishing with just 14 yards on 13 carries. The Redskins as a team were even worse, finishing with minus-2 yards on 20 team carries while yielding 265 yards on 46 rushes to Parkersburg.
That left Womack to shoulder the load, figuratively and literally. The senior signal-caller heaved the ball into the air 67 times, completing 41 of them for 434 yards. He finished with four touchdowns and one interception.
Three Hurricane receivers finished with double digits in receptions, led by Abel Cunningham, who snared 11 passes for 92 yards. Ryan Moses caught 10 balls for 122 markers and Hill caught 10 passes for 85 yards. Barham finished with 115 yards on five grabs.