NEWTOWN — Class AA No. 5 Poca forced four turnovers in the second half against Mingo Central as the Dots pulled away late for a 22-13 win Friday night at James H. “Buck” Harless Stadium.
Poca (3-0) intercepted Mingo Central sophomore quarterback Chris Ross four times in the second half, including a huge 40-yard return for a touchdown by senior defensive lineman Gabre Keech as the Miners were attempting to drive and take the lead with less than two minutes left in the game.
With his team ahead by only three at 16-13, Keech picked off a short swing pass from Ross and outran a couple of Miners the other way to the end zone to seal the win for his team.
The Mingo Central defense made a big play to start off the contest as Dylan Glasscock tipped a Jordan Wolfe pass and it was intercepted by Norman Kennedy to set up the MCHS offense near midfield.
The Miners capitalized on the turnover as they quickly moved the ball down the field and then scored on a 10-yard pass from Ross to Preston Smith. Zach Krise’s PAT was good and coach Chase Moore’s club took the 7-0 lead with 7:01 left in the first quarter.
The Dots answered on their next possession as Jordan Wolfe found his groove and connected with wideout Toby Payne multiple times on the drive, including an 8-yard touchdown pass across the middle of the end zone on a third-and-goal play. Joe Starcher’s point after kick was no good and the Miners had 7-6 lead with 2:23 left in the first.
After the Poca defense forced a Mingo Central punt, coach Seth Ramsey went to his ground game on his next possession as the Dots ran down the field and scored on a 15-yard run from Malakai Woodard-Jones. Starcher’s PAT was good and the Dots took a 13-7 lead with 6:51 left in the first half.
Mingo Central took the third quarter kickoff and marched methodically down the field into Poca territory. Facing fourth-and-10 at the Poca 21, Ross connected with sophomore receiver Kenneth Runyon, who got free on a corner route and came down with a catch in the end zone to tie the game at 13. The point after try was blocked with 4:50 left in the third.
The score remained knotted until early in the fourth quarter when Starcher connected on a 30-yard field goal from near the right hash to give Poca a 16-13 lead with 7:46 remaining.
The Miners got the ball two times with a chance to take the lead but couldn’t do it as they were forced to punt and then threw the pick-six on back-to-back possessions.
Woodard-Jones ran 18 times for 120 yards and one touchdown and Payne had four catches for 55 yards and a score. Wolfe finished 8 for 17 passing for 91 yards.
Mingo Central was led by Kennedy on the ground as the senior ran 20 times for 88 yards. Ross finished 15 for 25 passing for 136 yards, two TDs and four interceptions.
Ross started the game 11 for 12 passing in the first half but the Poca defense made adjustments in the second half as he finished the game throwing seven straight incompletions.
It’s the third straight win for Poca against Mingo Central as the Dots improve to 3-0 on the season. They return home next Friday to play Sissonville in a 7 p.m. start.
The Miners (1-3) have now lost three in a row. They will play at home again next Friday night against Greenbrier East.