LOGAN, W.Va. — The freshman giveth and the freshman taketh away.
Logan’s dazzling frosh quarterback David Early bounced back from a slow start in which he threw three first-half interceptions — one for a long touchdown return by Lincoln County — in leading Class AA No. 8-ranked Logan to a convincing 40-13 win over the winless Panthers on Friday night at Logan Stadium.
Early ended up firing three touchdowns on strikes of 73, 26 and 30 and added a 30-yard touchdown run as the Wildcats (3-0) stayed unbeaten ahead of this Friday night’s showdown at 3-0 Point Pleasant, which was a 61-12 winner on Friday over Gallia Academy, Ohio.
Early was 12 of 23 passing on the night for 244 yards. Logan also rushed 23 times for 185 yards and finished with 429 yards of total offense.
Logan improved to 8-1 all-time against Lincoln County and won its eighth straight over the Panthers, a program which is just 18-83 in its existence.
“Offensively in the first half we just couldn’t get into any kind of rhythm,” Logan 13th-year head coach Gary Mullins said. “And we were dominating the first couple of series. We seemed ticked off that we really didn’t play that well offensively but yet we scored 40 points. We felt like we should have scored 60 tonight. We weren’t very efficient. We had some guys that were banged up a little bit that we just hung out there in the second half. But we’re 3-0 and we’re happy to be 3-0.”
Despite the first-half miscues, Logan still led 26-7 at halftime and still dominated play.
Early was then able to stretch the Lincoln County secondary with a pair of deep second half touchdowns to put the game out of reach.
With 3:20 to go in the the third quarter, Early rolled out and tossed a 26-yard touchdown pass to a wide open Michael Hall in the end zone. It was Hall’s second score of the night. He had two catches for 103 yards and four carries for 24 more yards. The two-point conversion failed but the Wildcats led 32-7.
The touchdown capped a 10-play, 78-yard drive.
Then after the Logan defense held the Panthers to a three-and-out, the Cats struck three plays later as Early tossed a deep spiral down the sideline to Jamal Minter, who snared the pass and went into the end zone for a 30-yard score. Minter had five grabs for 83 yards on the evening.
Early then passed to Minter on the two-point conversion as Logan led 40-7 with 14.2 ticks to go in the third quarter, effectively putting the game out of reach.
“He can throw it 50 or 60 yards in the air,” Mullins said of Early. “He’ll keep getting better and our line will keep getting better.”
Lincoln County added a late touchdown with 4:47 left on Kolten Beckelheimer’s 18-yard touchdown run.
Early and the Wildcats reached pay dirt early in the game as the Logan QB tossed a bubble screen to the speedy Hall, who then raced down the sideline for a 73-yard touchdown. Chris Watkins tacked on the extra point kick as Logan led 7-0 with 8:58 to go in the first quarter.
Hall, a sophomore hybrid wide receiver/running back, has proven to be one of Logan’s many offensive threats after three weeks in the season.
“We feel like anybody that we put out there at wideout or running back can touch the ball. We really don’t have a goto guy,” Mullins said. “We just throw it to who is open. That’s what the plan is. As long as we can do that we feel like we will be pretty good.”
Logan then got the ball back midway into the first period as Shawntez Matthews intercepted Lincoln County QB Jake Ashley at the Wildcat 32-yard line.
After a 24-yard pass to Minter and a 6-yard run by Matthews, Logan was in the end zone again with Devin Hensley’s 3-yard touchdown run. After the Watkins PAT, Logan led 14-0 with 6:14 to go in the opening quarter.
The Panthers were forced to punt on its next drive but the snap went over punter Bryce Adkins’ head and the Cats took over at the LCHS 7-yard line.
Then on third-and-goal at the 8, Early dropped back and zipped a pass which was intercepted by Lincoln County’s Shane Wells at the 5. Wells then weaved his way all down the field for a 95-yard touchdown. Ashley kicked the PAT and Lincoln County trailed just 14-7 with 1:56 left.
The Wildcats had another golden opportunity in the second quarter following a disastrous 5-yard punt by Lincoln County which was shanked out of bounds at the Logan 30-yard line.
But four plays later, Early was picked off again — this time by Jacob Kirkendoll — at the Logan 20. The Panther linemen then rumbled 40 yards all the way to the LHS 40-yard line before he was finally brought down.
LCHS drove to the 35 but a bad snap to Ashley foiled a fourth-and-20 play.
Three plays later, Logan scored another touchdown with Braxton Goff’s 15-yard run. Watkins was wide left on the PAT but Logan led 20-7 with 4:19 left until halftime. The touchdown was set up by an 11-yard run by Hall and a 30-yard pass from Early to Goff.
Following another three-and-out by Lincoln County, Logan took over at the Panther 44.
But on a third-and-four at the LCHS 38, Early was intercepted for the third time in the first half — this one by Jacob Taylor — at the 4-yard line.
The Panthers were then forced to punt with yet another three-and-out.
The Wildcats took over at the Lincoln County 30-yard line.
Then on the next snap, Early took a keeper and dashed into the end zone for a 30-yard TD run. En route to the goal line, the 6-foot-4, 240-pound Early lowered his shoulder and delivered a blow to a Lincoln County player at the 15, then raced in for six. The PAT by Watkins was again wide left but the Cats led 26-7 with 1:11 to go until halftime.
Goff finished with three catches for 46 yards and two carries for 17 yards. Tyler Browning had one catch for nine yards. Skyler Miller had one grab for two yards and Hensley one catch for one yard.
Early added 69 yards on the ground on three carries, while Hensley had five attempts for 11 yards. Trice Boatwright had four rushes for 38 yards. Trey Jude had two carries for 12 yards and Chucky Felder had one rush for seven yards. Matthews had one rush for five yards. Browning had one carry for two yards.
On defense, Matthews and Daniel Browning led LHS with eight tackles apiece. Cody Maynard had seven and Minter four. Goff and Cezar Cruz had three stops each. David Cruz and Felder had two each. Tyler Browning, Early, Musco Adams, Tyler Mileto, Hensley, Elijah Adkins and Jude had one tackle each.
Matthews, Hall and Dino Noe each had two special teams tackles. Tyler Browning, David Cruz, Felder and Daniel Browning had one each.
Goff had two sacks and Daniel Browning and Minter had one sack each. Minter also had a caused fumble and a pass breakup. Matthews, Boatwright and Felder each had a pass breakup.
Logan now shifts its focus to the big clash this Friday, Sept. 16 at Point Pleasant.
The Big Blacks were a Class AAA powerhouse the last few years but have dropped down to the Class AA ranks this fall just as Logan has.
The Wildcats lost 57-7 to Point last year at home and 63-8 the year before that on the road.
Logan leads the all-time series 15-9-1 over Point Pleasant.
“We’re super happy to win and there’s been some exciting play,” Mullins said. “We just have to keep working and we have to work on the little things and try not to turn the ball over so much. If we do that I think that we’ll be alright. It’s a long season. It will get turned up next week. And as far as I’m concerned it will be the biggest game in the state against Point Pleasant. We want to get in there and win.”
2016 Logan High School
Football Schedule (3-0):
Aug. 25: Man (Coalfield Kickoff Classic), W 48-13
Sept. 2: *Poca (Hall of Fame Game), W 61-11
Sept. 9: Lincoln County, W 40-13
Sept. 16: at Point Pleasant, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 23: *Chapmanville (Homecoming), 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 30: Open Date
Oct. 7: at John Marshall, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 14: at Greenbrier East, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 21: *Sissonville, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 28: at Oak Hill, 7:30 p.m.
Nov. 4: *at Scott, 7:30 p.m.
*Cardinal Conference game
(Paul Adkins is the Sports Editor of the Logan Banner. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @PAdkinsBanner).