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CLASH OF STATE POWERS: A Big Reds’ first

PHS picks up inaugural win over Wheeling Central

Photo by Duane West Parkersburg QB Bryson Singer scores what turned out to be the game-winning touchdown in the third-quarter Friday night at PHS Stadium Field. The Big Reds avoided an upset from Class A Wheeling Central, 38-21.

PARKERSBURG — Wheeling Central owned the first half, but host Parkersburg stormed back with 31 unanswered points and held the Maroon Knights to 34 second-half total yards here Friday night during the Big Reds’ 38-21 victory at Stadium Field.

Big Red junior signal-caller Bryson Singer, who more than once ran from one side of the field to the other, finished with three rushing touchdowns and threw for two more as the red and white improved to 1-1 with a road game set for next Friday at Marietta.

“I just let it go,” Singer said of the first play of the second half where he lost 23 yards on first down, was stripped and Wheeling Central’s Riley Watkins recovered.

That led to Jordan Waterhouse’s third touchdown run and Eli Tucker’s extra point had head coach Mike Young’s three-time defending Class A state champions up 21-7 with 10:51 left in the third.

“Man, forget the plays that are bad and just move forward basically,” added Singer, who finished with 126 yards rushing on 20 attempts. “If we would’ve went 0-2 I’d been really mad at myself, not the team. We can kind of get things going now.”

Keenan Curry’s 17-yard punt return got the Big Reds going on their third drive of the second half. However, facing a third-and-11 at the Central 39, Singer was chased way out of the pocket and looped back around before launching a 50-plus yard bomb that Jordan Martin grabbed in the end zone to make it a one possession affair.

“He put it there,” coach Young said of the pass. “That was a momentum builder for them and a backbreaker for us. Credit to their kids.

They kept fighting back, fighting back.

“For two and a half quarters, I’m very proud of what they did. I think our kids played hard. (Five turnovers) you can’t do that. We’ll be back. We’ll be back.”

On the Big Reds’ next drive, Singer ran all over the field on a first-and-27 play from the hosts’ 37, which he turned into a 29-yard run. Following a 14-yard pass to Carter King, Singer bulled in from the 1, but Casey Stanley’s extra point failed and Central still led 21-20 with 2:30 to go.

Central, now 0-2 with a game next Friday at Shadyside, fumbled on its next drive when quarterback Michael Toepfer was strip-sacked by Austin Fleming and Justin Waybright scooped it up and ran for 8 yards. Singer’s 12-yard TD burst, where wideout Aaron Kupfner was able to set the edge, followed. Jordan Martin hauled in the two-point conversion pass for a 28-21 lead with no time left in the third.

Parkersburg’s defense got a sack by Waybright and then a key tackle for loss on a back-side screen by Xadrian Snodgrass, who ran 17 times for 52 stripes, to force the visitors into a three-and-out.

Two plays later, Singer faked it to Snodgrass, tucked it and ran up the gut for a 45-yard TD scamper. Stanley’s extra point pushed the lead to 35-21 with 9:13 remaining.

Jeffery Jones, who also had a fumble recovery late in the fourth, stripped Toepfer on the next drive and Waybright once again was there for the recovery. That led to the final points of the game, a 27-yard field goal by Stanley.

“First half we double contained a lot of plays and they hit the alley on us,” said Big Red boss Mike Byus, who watched Jordan Waterhouse rush 10 times for 102 yards in the first half, but finish with 144 stripes on 20 attempts. “We had no seal. We just told the kids once you set the edge and contain the football play someone has to fill the alley or there’s a big hole.

“It made a big difference. We gave them two scores in the first half off turnovers. It was a short field and they took advantage on us. Finally, the offense started clicking. I’m proud of them for fighting back and coming back and not sticking their heads between their tails and giving up. I liked the fight.”

Central elected to take the ball to start the game, but fumbled it away with Big Red Michael Owen recovering.

Watkins’ fumble recovery for the Maroon Knight led to their first six-pointer, a Waterhouse 13-yard score.

The Big Reds’ second drive nearly resulted in a lost fumble by Singer, which Vinnie High appeared to recover, but PHS managed to keep the ball. Central was driving on the ensuing possession, but Big Red Jadon Scott picked off Toepfer, which led to a tie game when Singer hit King for a leaping 20-yard TD strike.

Waterhouse’s 3-yard TD burst gave the visitors their 14-7 halftime advantage at the 5:14 mark.

Singer finished 4 of 11 passing for 70 yards. Toepfer hit 12 of 19 attempts for 85 yards with Payton Marling finishing with game-highs of six grabs for 48 stripes.

Contact Jay Bennett at jbennett@newsandsentinel.com

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