Wirt outlasts Gilmer for homecoming win
ELIZABETH — Gilmer County fought tooth and nail all evening long here Friday night at Wilson-Eismon Field, but host Wirt County managed to outlast the Titans for a 36-28 homecoming victory.
It appeared the orange and black would roll to an easy triumph after leading 20-6 after one and 36-6 at halftime, but first-year Titan head coach Thomas Cogar’s squad had other ideas.
Late in the fourth, Gilmer County (0-3) had its second touchdown called back due to a penalty, but signal-caller Justyn Dean found Gunnar Haley open again for a 27-yard scoring strike. After Haley’s two-point conversion reception, the Titans trailed 36-28 with 2:03 remaining, but couldn’t get the ball back.
“We’re ecstatic to get the ‘W’ right now and we’re 2-1 and we’re happy about that,” said second-year Tiger boss Isac Osborne, who previously coached the Titans. “Honestly, we didn’t play that great in the first half. It’s my responsibility and I didn’t get these guys ready enough to play.
“I know we scored 36 in the first half. We just got to be better and I got to be better. That’s on me. Those kids right there (Gilmer’s), they have a lot of heart. I was around a lot of those guys and hats off to them. They never quit and kept battling. Great adjustments and they kept playing.”
Wirt County, which used three quarterbacks and ran mostly out of the shotgun with keepers, received touchdown runs of 32 and 24 yards from Dakota Richards in the first quarter. Richards had nine carries for 127 yards in the opening stanza, but finished with 13 totes for 134 yards.
After Richards’ first score, it was 6-0 and then Casey Stanley bulled in from the 1 to make it 14-0 after Richards’ two-point conversion.
Haley, who had game-highs of seven catches for 134 yards, had a 65-yard scoring grab from Dean to cut the deficit to eight. Richards then followed with his second score for a 20-6 lead after one.
Stanley’s second 1-yard run and Trent Richards’ two-point conversion made it 28-6 with 8:04 left in the half. Stanley, who had game-highs of 27 rushes for 167 yards while going 10 of 17 through the air for 99 stripes, connected on an 8-yard TD pass to Noah Garrett. Hunter Moore had the run for two and it appeared the rout was on.
The Titans, who return to action at 7:30 p.m. next Friday with a road trip to Sherman, tried to dent the scoreboard again before the break, but Dean’s touchdown pass to Hunter Self (6-109) was called back. Gilmer County was flagged 11 times for 116 yards while the Tigers had eight penalties for 79 yards after having just one 5-yard infraction in the first half.
Self had an electrifying 58-yard catch-and-run touchdown on the Titans’ second play after intermission. He hauled in a Dean aerial in front of the Tiger bench and then raced all the way across the field and managed to make it to the far pylon.
Haley added a 4-yard scoring run at 2:13 of third and Self’s conversion catch from Dean, who finished 16 of 26 for 250 yards while adding 63 more yards on four carries, made it 36-20 entering the final stanza.
“The kids fought hard in the second half,” said Cogar, whose club trailed 372-127 at the half in total yards, but dominated the second half to the tune of a 253-55 advantage. “We made a few adjustments that seemed to work. We’re just really proud of the kids.
“We had a chance to come back and get this thing. We had a couple bad breaks and a few touchdowns called back. The first half we started sluggish and turned it around. You can’t say enough about how our kids played in the second half.”
Wirt County is tenatively scheduled to play at 7 p.m. next Friday at Stadium Field against Parkersburg Catholic.