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Wheeling Central gets by Ritchie County

ELLENBORO — The defending champions surive.

In another hostile environment, the Wheeling Central Catholic Maroon Knights picked up a tight 13-0 win over the hometown Ritchie County Rebels in the Class A state quarterfinals on Saturday at Chuck Schofield Memorial Stadium in Ellenboro. It took a stout defensive performance, but the No. 10 Maroon Knights (8-4) find themselves in the semis against the No. 3 seeded Pendleton County.

The first drive of the game saw Central and backup quarterback Jacob Rine drive down the field in seven minutes to find paydirt from a yard away. It was on a 4th and goal from the 1 when Adam Murray plunged in to give his team a lead they wouldn’t surrender.

The closest the Rebels got to tying it up was on the ensuing drive when they were down to the Central 23. Quarterback Ethan Haught dropped back to pass as both his intended receiver and the defender got tangled up.

The ball was up for grabs for Central’s Mason Smith, who picked it off and extinguished a promising drive.

From there, both teams played defense that kept points at a premium. One standout for either side was WCC’s Jordan Waterhouse, who took control andtallied 150 yards on the ground and the game-seeling interception and touchdown. With 3:20 left, the Rebels were driving after stopping the Knights on a 4th down from the 22. At midfield, Haught had to make a split-second decision and threw a 50-50 ball up to Graden McKinney, but Waterhouse came away with an interception at the 26 returned back to midfield.

His score came with 2:03 remaining from 21 yards away, and it was at that moment Waterhouse knew the game was at its conclusion.

“I knew it was over,” he said. We’re going to go back to the Island and win it. We knew this was going to be tough, so we just wanted to keep on running and running. That was our game plan.”

On the losing side of things, Ritchie County head coach Rick Haught reflected on his team’s 10-2 season and how the program has evolved over the past two seasons under his leadership.

“I don’t know what we’ve done. We’ve just worked hard,” he said. “I just think this is the way things should be. I don’t know what was going on before me, but I just know how this should be done. Things have gone well for us with these two years, but today’s a tough day to talk about where you’ve been, because you hurt from the loss so much… I thought we had the ball enough, but we couldn’t string a drive together.

Contact Josh Hughes at jhughes@newsandsentinel.com

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