Cabell cruises by South in home opener
Knights had 392 yards on the ground
PARKERSBURG — Though Cabell Midland spent the day on a tour of the Mountain State, the Knights had plenty left in the tank for their 8 p.m. rendezvous with Parkersburg South Friday evening at Erickson All-Sports Facility. Luke Salmons’ crew put on a running game clinic in a 69-34 win over the host Patriots. They racked up 392 yards on 42 carries including 11 touchdowns.
The overall effort left their leader impressed. Amazingly, this was the first day the team had a scrimmage and had a chance to be on the field as a team. COVID-19 scrambling plans and axing their opener with Riverside distracted no one though as the Knights advanced to 1-0 on the season.
“Our kids are tough and they play hard. We gave up some crappy plays on third and fourth down and South has some skill players and they are a good team. I mean that was the first time we scrimmaged and the first time we played a game and we are going to continue to build off of this,” Salmons said.
It appeared early on the home team was up for a possible shootout with the 2019 Class AAA runner-up, if only for a small moment. Cabell then used a 28-point quarter to pull away after South trailed by just seven entering the period before halftime. Jackson Fetty’s interception of a Sam Schuler pass set up one score. Jayden Johnson’s fumble recovery set up another one that put the score at 35-7 with six minutes left in the half. The other scores came on the ground.
Overall though the night belonged to the Knights’ Jakob Caudill. His performance filled up the stat sheet with 196 rushing yards on just 15 carries along with four touchdowns. Those numbers included two scoring runs of 47 and 35 yards.
Each one came after the Patriots managed to claw their way back into the contest.
They were signals it wasn’t meant to be for the home team. In addition to the the two turnovers, the Patriots made too many mistakes and couldn’t stop their visitors from taking advantage of them. Several botched snaps on third and fourth down cost them valuable field position, too.
All the miscues were not lost on South head coach Nathan Tanner. “We had too many self inflicted wounds in second and third and long situations where they are bringing the house and there is only so much you can do. With those self inflicted wounds it puts you in tough spots to execute.
“When we didn’t do that and stayed ahead of the chains we did a lot of good things.”
Levi Rice and Cyrus Traugh did some of those good things Tanner mentioned. Rice’s 77-yard kickoff return with 11 seconds left before halftime brought the Patriots within 42-21. He then pulled in a 54-yard touchdown pass late in the third period.
Traugh meanwhile helped the Patriots pull even with their visitors after he caught a tipped past for the Patriots first score of the game at the 5:39 mark of the opening period.
“I thought Jake Hogsett and Landon made some good plays as well. Sam (Schuler) was still hobbling around a little bit on his ankle and I thought Devin ran the ball well at times,” Tanner said.
The Patriots had a chance to take command of the game early in the first quarter. But with Cabell Midland backed up on its own 30-yard line on fourth and sixth, an offside call followed by a Caudill run helped the Knights avoid disaster. Isaiah Vaughn’s score three plays later put the Knights ahead for good.
The win ended a crazy day for Cabell Midland, who left Ona at 9:30 a.m. for a scrimmage with Fairmont Senior. During the warm-up session no varsity players got any time before the game with South was announced around 4:30 p.m. So the Knights entered the EASF as a largely green team. What they left with though was an encouraging building block when they could have been sitting at home.
Salmons appreciated South reaching out to give his team a chance to play.
“It is not easy to prepare for us with no time. It was not easy to prepare for them with no time,” Salmons said. “It was almost like we played but we were just finding out as we went so it was different. You have to push that aside and just say what is important and that is the kids.”
South now leaves on a three-game road trip starting with a trip to Woodrow Wilson at 7:30 p.m. next Friday. They now return to the drawing board to keep improving as a team.
“There is work to be done a little bit of everywhere to be honest with you,” Tanner said. “Cabell Midland is a really good football team and we have to clean stuff up and get more physical.”