Catholic tops Wirt, 43-24

PARKERSBURG -Parkersburg Catholic and Wirt County are two teams heading in opposite directions.

Behind a pair of touchdowns from Payton Sturm and Jake Boice, the Crusaders improved to 4-1 after defeating the Tigers 43-24 Saturday night at Stadium Field. Wirt County drops to 1-4.

After a wild second quarter, PCHS nearly pitched a second-half shutout. By the time Wirt County quarterback Damian Rhodes punched it in from a yard out with 38 seconds left in the fourth quarter, the Crusaders already had the game wrapped up behind a pair of 1-yard fourth-quarter touchdown runs from Boice and Ryan Schriner to put PC in front, 43-16.

The two teams showcased their best version of a fast-break offense after producing a combined five touchdowns in a span of 5 minutes late in the second quarter. In addition to 305 yards of total offense in the second period alone, there also was an 89-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Nick Roedersheimer.

In a much-more subdued first quarter, both sides exchanged interceptions to open the game. Wirt County scored first on Trent Hardbarger’s 27-yard field goal with 5:47 remaining in the period.

On the ensuing drive, Sturm converted two first downs by calling his own number for gains of 33 and 17 yards with the latter carry resulting in a touchdown. The point after put the Crusaders in front 7-3 with 59 ticks left on the first-quarter clock.

A second interception of Rhodes to open the second quarter gave PCHS the ball at its own 47. Despite a holding penalty which pushed the drive back to first-and-19, the Crusaders put together a sustained drive that lasted nearly 6 minutes with Sturm scoring from 5 yards out.

That’s when the fireworks began. One play after nearly throwing his third pick, Rhodes found Justin Joy downfield and the play resulted in a 77-yard touchdown pass. The run failed on the two-point conversion and the Crusaders advantage stood at 14-9.

PCHS made short work on its next series. On the second play of the drive, Sturm hooked up with Jake Boice for a short completion, but Boice raced the final 55 yards for the 72-yard catch-and-run. As the holder on the point after, Sturm kept the snap from center and crossed the goal line to increase the PCHS advantage to 22-9.

On the kickoff, Jake Linville put Wirt County in ideal field position at the PCHS 37 with a 55-yard return. On third-and-12 from the 22, the Rhodes-to-Joy combination created another six points for the Tigers. Following the point after, Wirt County trailed 22-16 with 1:04 remaining in the first half.

PCHS didn’t need to line up for another play before the end of intermission because of Roedersheimer’s 89-yard kickoff return that closed out the first-half scoring with the Crusaders in front 29-16.

Sturm led all ballcarriers with 94 yards on 15 carries and completed 3-of-6 passes for 108 yards.

For Wirt County, Rhodes gained 86 yards on 17 rushes while throwing for 136 yards on 4-of-17 passing, and Wes Valentine contributed 78 yards on 12 carries.