After last week’s disappointing loss to Mingo Central at a freezing cold Buck Harless Stadium, the Logan High School football team returned home on Friday night needing a win to stay in the Class AAA playoff hunt.
The Wildcats did just that with a convincing 40-14 victory at the Logan Football Stadium over Class AAA Nitro.
Logan, ranked No. 17 in the state in this week’s 3A rankings, improved to 6-3 on the season and close out this coming Friday night at home against 2A Scott. The Skyhawks, which lost 16-3 to Logan last season, are 3-6 after falling 34-13 to Robert C. Byrd on Friday night.
Logan needs a win over Scott to lock up its first playoff berth in two years. The Wildcats missed last year’s post-season with what would be an identical 7-3 record.
Seven wins should be enough this time for Logan to make it. The Cats could be ranked anywhere from No. 13 to No. 16 depending on how it shakes out, meaning Logan would travel to play a first-round playoff game most likely against Huntington, Martinsburg, Point Pleasant, Capital or George Washington.
Logan already has played Point Pleasant this season, falling 37-21 to the Big Blacks at home in a mistake-prone game by the Cats.
But in order to get there, the Wildcats must first beat Scott.
The first step was on Friday night as Logan needed a victory over Nitro (1-8).
Logan did just that as LHS dominated Nitro in a game that was really more lopsided than the final 26-point margin would indicate.
Had it not been for the numerous turnovers by Logan the final might have been even more one-sided.
Logan squandered two chances inside the red zone in the first half as the Cats fumbled the ball away twice to Nitro.
Logan was again led by senior running back Bryden “Worm” Street, who surpassed the 1,000-yard rushing plateau on the season as he scored four touchdowns and intercepted two passes on defense — one of which went for a 41-yard score. Street also scored touchdowns on runs of 9, 4 and 17.
Street’s Walter Payton-like dive over the top and across the goal line just before the half seemed to be the backbreaker for Nitro. The touchdown, with 58.5 seconds left until halftime, put Logan on top 20-0.
Street finished with 20 rushes for 196 yards and the three rushing TDs on the evening. On the season, he’s racked up 123 carries for 1,106 yards and 11 scores.
Logan coach Gary Mullins said it was nice to bounce back after last week’s defeat.
“I thought overall we played pretty well,” Mullins said. “We had some turnovers there that hurt us but other than that we were trying to win and get to the next week. We made the last game of the season important. A lot of times it hasn’t been important. We now have four straight winnning seasons and if we win next week we get into the playoffs. That’s the ultimate goal — to get to the post-season and to get a win.”
Logan’s turnovers didn’t really matter against Nitro, a team on an eight-game losing streak after beating Putnam County rival and Class AA team Poca in Week 1.
“Those are seniors who fumbled and they will get it corrected,” Mullins said. “There’s nobody more down than those guys who fumbled. We’ll just get back and work harder on ballcarrying and ball security and try to get better next week.”
Mullins said his team played with more intensity this week as compared to last week up on the mountain.
“I thought that we played with fire,” he said. “It looked like we were excited to be out there. We didn’t feel like we played with much fire last week at Mingo Central. We felt like we didn’t give our best effort. We were looking forward to getting out here and giving it a good showing. We know what is coming in here next weekend. We know that the Scott Skyhawks would love to knock us out of the playoffs. We have to have a good gameplan. Our playoff lives are on the line.”
Ryan Miller, who came off the bench to rally Logan in the Mingo Central game last week, started at QB for LHS.
Josh Rein, last week’s starter, also played under center as did freshman Noah Corbett, who has started for Logan as well this season. LHS was without senior starting wide receiver Brett Musick, who reportedly has torn ligaments in his knee. Musick also sat out last week’s game due to the injury.
“I thought that he played well,” Mullins said of Miller. “I told him early in the season that we were going to win football games this season with him at quarterback. The Lord has a funny way of working things out. We had went with Josh Rein but Brett Musick went down and we didn’t have our one and two wideouts in there, so we felt like we had to have Josh or Brett out there. We went back in with Josh and we thought that he gave us a spark.”
Up three scores at the half, Logan made it 26-0 at the 8:33 mark of the third as Miller fired a 20-yard touchdown pass to Jeremiah Spears. The PAT attempt by Daniel Hanks sailed wide right.
Nitro then got on the board with a halfback pass gadget play as Alex Gibson caught an 80-yard TD pass to make it 26-7.
Rein then came in at QB for Logan and connected with Street on a 48-yard TD pass but the score was nullified due to a holding penalty on LHS.
Logan then continued to drive down field and scored with Street’s 17-yard touchdown run with 10:04 left in the game to make it 33-7. Hanks was good on the extra point kick.
Street then intercepted Nitro freshman quarterback James Buckalew to give LHS a first-and-10 at the Nitro 42.
Logan then capitalized on the mistake with senior Tyler Vance’s 32-yard TD run with 7:47 left. Hanks split the uprights on the extra point kick and Logan led 40-7.
The Nitro Wildcats then scored one more touchdown with 6:07 left on a 7-yard run to finish off the scoring at 40-14.
Logan marched 82 yards in seven plays on its opening possession, culminating on Street’s 9-yard touchdown run with 5:21 to go in the opening quarter. After Hanks kicked the PAT, the Cats led 7-0.
Logan’s Tyler Vernatter then intercepted a deflected pass from Nitro starting QB Johnathan Barton in the Logan red zone at the 14-yard line.
LHS, though, fumbled it back to Nitro at the NHS 4 as the first quarter came to an end.
Nitro was then dealt a blow as Barton had to leave the game in the second quarter due to a reported knee injury.
Just three snaps later, Barton’s replacement, Buckalew, was intercepted by Street, who then weaved and dashed his way into the end zone for a touchdown with 9:06 to go until the half. Hanks’ PAT was good as Logan made it 14-0.
Logan later drove the ball to the Nitro 20 but Miller was picked off by Tyler Davis at the 12.
Nitro, however, was forced to punt and four plays later, Street jumped over the top and leaped into the end zone from 4 yards out to push the margin to 20-0 at the intermission.
Miller finished the game 6-for-12 passing for 89 yards and one TD. Corbett was 1-for-1 for two yards.
Rein caught five passes for 53 yards. Spears had the 20-yard TD grab, while Matt Cox had one catch for 10 yards and Clayton Marcum had one grab for six yards. Chester Bradsher had his first catch of the season for two yards.
Vernatter added nine carries for 50 yards. Rein had four attempts for 23 yards, while Miller had three rushes for 21 yards. Marcum added two tries for 16 yards. Corbett had one rush for 11 yards. Cox had one carry for one yard.
Daniel Miller tacked on two rushes for 12 yards. Ryan Ellis had one carry for 12 yards. Tim Saunders had one rush for one yard. Daniel Browning had three carries for two yards.
As a team Logan had 48 carries for 376 yards. With the 91 yards passing, Logan amassed 467 yards of total offense.
Hanks was 4-for-6 on the night in extra point kicks.
On defense, Jacob Browning led LHS with six tackles. Street, Vernatter and Preston Hepler had five apiece, while Marcum, Stephen Dilly and Tyler Workman had four each. Ty Yeager, Chris Browning and A.J. Grimmett had three each.
Kyle Runyon, Cox and Bradsher, had two stops each. Corbett, Spears, Hanks, Hunter Nelson, Nate Smith, Ryan Ellis, Gavin Ellis and Jordan Oney all had one tackle each.
Street had the two interceptions while Vernatter had one. Street and Workman also had a pass breakup.
Vernatter and Jody Butcher each had the fumble recovery.
Logan now turns its attention to Scott, a team that has gone 7-3 against Logan in the last 10 years.
“Our playoffs started tonight. If we would have lost we would have been out,” Mullins said. “It was a playoff game for us. Next week is the same thing. If we lose we are done and the season is over. If we win we get to play again.”
2013 Logan High School
Football Schedule (6-3):
Aug. 30: at Man, W 40-20
Sept. 6: at Shady Spring, W 39-0
Sept. 13: Lincoln County (Hall of Fame Game), W 51-14
Sept. 20: Point Pleasant, L 21-37
Sept. 27: at Chapmanville, W 27-14
Oct. 4: OPEN DATE
Oct. 11: at University, L 20-49
Oct. 18: Greenbrier East (Homecoming), W 48-29
Oct. 25: at Mingo Central, L 20-26
Nov. 1: Nitro, W 40-14
Nov. 8: Scott (Senior Night), 7:30 p.m.