Wirt whacks Gilmer, 51-16

ELIZABETH – Gilmer County ran into a buzzsaw here Friday night at Wilson-Eismon Field, but the Titans fought until the final buzzer en route to falling 51-16 to Wirt County.

The Tigers, who lost tailback Cody Ferguson to a knee injury, steamrolled to a 36-0 halftime cushion and held a 340-79 total yards advantage at intermission.

Wirt County head coach Jason Hickman’s team scrapped its spread passing attack and focused more on the run, amassing 236 ground yards on three dozen attempts in the first half.

The hosts scored on four of their first five possessions as Damian Rhodes (7), Austin McVey (13), Ferguson (4) and Wes Valentine (2) each had rushing touchdowns.

Ferguson’s score was set up when senior defensive tackle Daniel McCue, who had 2 1-2 sacks and two forced fumbles, stripped Titan Tristan Sparks and Tiger Dustin Garner recovered the ball.

Wirt County, now 1-2 with a road tilt next Friday night at 3-0 Doddridge County, went ahead 36-0 with 51 seconds left before the break when Rhodes hit Justin Joy on a 12-yard touchdown strike. Rhodes hit on 5 of 8 passes for 113 yards as Joy caught three balls for 104 yards.

Gilmer County, which dropped to 2-1 and plays host to Paden City next Friday at Morris Stadium, found itself down 43-0 at 5:49 of the third when Rhodes ran in from 6 yards out. The score was set up when McVey recovered a fumble on the Titans’ 9-yard line, but couldn’t keep his balance and fell down at the 1.

Titan signal-caller Austin Cunningham hit 21 of 31 aerials for 140 yards. Austin Ratliff, who led the visitors with 56 yards rushing on six attempts, caught 11 passes for 64 stripes. Nathan Allison grabbed a 23-yard TD strike from Cunningham with 35 ticks left in the third quarter as the Titans finally dented the scoreboard. Anthony Dean snared the two-point conversion pass from Cunningham and it was 43-8.

Ratliff later made an all-hands grab for a 4-yard TD reception from Cunningham just 38 seconds into the fourth quarter. That was set up when Luke Beall, who batted down two passes, recovered an orange and black fumble and returned it about 20 yards. Cunningham’s conversion run set the score at 43-16.

The Tigers, who were led by Rhodes (16-92) and Linville (9-79) in the ground attack, finished off the scoring when Matt Toney bulled in from the 4 and Matt Freeland got the two-point conversion run.