A trick play not only put away the Mingo Central Miners on Friday night it did a whole lot more for the Logan High School football team.
The Wildcats, ranked No. 18 in the state in this week’s Class AAA computer ratings, downed 2A No. 13 Mingo Central 28-16 at Logan Stadium.
It was a memorable Senior Night win for Logan.
Not only did it put the Wildcats (6-2) back into the 3A playoff picture with two games left to play, it also secured Logan’s third straight winning season.
It was quite a reward for Logan’s senior class — including starting quarterback Chris Marcum and 11 others.
Three years ago as freshmen, Logan’s current senior class endured a dreadful 1-9 season. It was a season so bad, Wildcats’ head coach Gary Mullins was questioning if he should even come back.
Logan then rallied to go 6-5 in 2010 and reach the Class AAA playoffs. Last year, the Wildcats were 8-3 and hosted their first 3A post-season game since 1990.
This year, Logan has kept the winning ways going.
Things might have been different on Friday night had it not been for a bit of trickery.
With the Wildcats leading only 21-16 following Mingo Central’s 1-yard touchdown sneak by quarterback Matt Lester with 9:52 left the game was still in doubt.
Then it had appeared the Miners had stopped the Wildcats at midfield and would have one last chance to drive down for the possible game winning score.
Logan faced a fourth-and-eight at the Mingo Central 45-yard line and went into punt formation.
The Miners were about to get the ball back.
One more drive and one more score and Mingo Central could head out of Logan with a win.
The Wildcats, however, had other ideas.
While in punt formation and punter Brian Craft back deep, Logan instead snapped it to the up blocker — Marcum, who pumped and fired a strike over the middle to his brother, Clayton Marcum on a nice slant pattern around the 20-yard line. After making the catch, Marcum then kicked it into gear and raced 45 yards for a touchdown. Craft booted the extra point kick — his fourth of the night — as Logan went ahead 28-16 with 6:07 left in the game.
It appeared to be the game capper but more drama was yet to come.
The pesky Miners took over on its own 33 and on the fourth play of their next drive appeared to have gotten back into the game with Joe May’s 46-yard touchdown run with 4:04 left. The score, however, was nullified due to a holding penalty by the Miners.
Mingo Central eventually turned the ball over on downs at the Miners’ 46.
Logan was able to convert a fourth-and-10 at the Logan 34 on Chris Marcum’s 12-yard keeper.
Marcum then took two knees to run out the clock.
It was a great night for the Wildcats, which bounced back from last week’s 37-18 homecoming loss to the Huntington Highlanders.
“We’ve got another winning season and that was our second goal,” Coach Mullins said after the game, noting the first goal — the Logan County championship — had already been attained. “When you get to this point of the season it’s surviving and advancing. We didn’t play that well in the second half. There were some stupid calls by me. We were trying to get too cute. We could have put it away there in the third but hopefully we’ll learn some lessons from that. But we’ll take being 6-2 any day of the week.”
The fake punt call, however, was not a “stupid” one.
It was brilliant and bold and it caught the Miners napping.
“He’s been our personal protector there all year,” Mullins said of Chris Marcum on Logan’s punt formations. “Just a few weeks ago we put a fake punt in even though we don’t like to fake it. We usually like to leave our offense out there. Coach (Josh) Fry went a little bit back and forth there on the headphones. We decided that we were going to go for it and put the ball into Chris’ hands. It was a great throw and a great run after the catch for Clayton.”
Clayton Marcum is normally a defensive specialist in Logan’s secondary but is also a fine wide receiver, Mullins said.
“Clayton is a great wide receiver,” Mullins said. “He could very easily start for us and make plays like that but he’s so valuable defensively and on the special teams that we try not to put too much on him. Throughout the rest of the year and definitely next year you’ll see him on offense because he’s got great hands and great wheels. He’s definitely a threat for us.”
Logan jumped ahead of Mingo Central 7-0 on the second play from scrimmage as Marcum fired an 84-yard bomb to senior wideout Khaleel Reynolds. Craft’s PAT split the uprights and Logan led 7-0 over the Miners.
Mingo Central answered with 1:14 to go in the first quarter as May scored on a 9-yard touchdown run. Lester then fired to May on the two-point conversion and the Miners led 8-7.
It proved to be the first and only lead of the game for Mingo Central.
Just three players later, Logan answered with a 50-yard touchdown run by Brant Williams. Craft was again good on the extra point kick as the Wildcats led 14-8 with 19 ticks to go in the first quarter. The score was set up by Brynden “Worm” Street’s 35-yard run on first down to midfield.
“I’m sure Brant’s senior season hasn’t gone 100 percent the way that he would have liked it to up to this point but he sucked it up tonight,” Coach Mullins said. “He ran so hard. He’s got good vision and gave us some great running there in the first half. That took some pressure off our passing game.”
Late in the first half, Logan and Mingo Central traded fumbles.
The latter was with 3:24 left when the Miners’ Joseph Hall put the ball down on the grass at the Logan 44.
The Wildcats eventually capitalized, driving 56 yards in six plays, capped off by Marcum’s 13-yard keeper for a touchdown with 59 ticks to go. Craft’s PAT was good and Logan led 21-8 over Mingo Central at the half.
The Miners looked to get back into the game early in the third quarter but Hall fumbled the ball away again as Street recovered at the 30 and ran all the way down to the Mingo Central 10-yard line.
After three straight runs of three yards by Reynolds, Logan had a fourth-and-goal at the 1-yard line. An illegal procedure penalty by the Wildcats moved it back to the 6.
Logan passed on the 23-yard field goal attempt and went for it instead.
It didn’t turn out well for the Wildcats, however, as Reynolds, taking a handoff from Marcum, then scrambled back to the 20 and fired incomplete in the end zone to C.J. Williams.
The Miners went three-and-out on their next drive and Logan turned it over on downs at the MC 40.
Mingo Central then went on a 13-play, 60-yard drive, capped by Lester’s 1-yard TD run and May’s conversion grab, to trim Logan’s lead to just 21-16.
The fake punt play then spelled doom for the Miners, which dropped to 4-4 on the season.
It was the second straight win by Logan over Mingo Central. Last year, the Wildcats went to Newtown and defeated the Miners 22-6 at Mingo Central’s Buck Harless Stadium.
Coach Mullins said he’s happy his team got to six wins and secured a third straight winning season.
“Three years ago was a very bad year when we were 1-9. I took it hard,” Mullins said. “I love Logan High School football and I want them to win. These seniors said, ‘We’re not going to be 1-9. We’re not going to do that anymore.’ It’s their will that has done it. We really haven’t changed anything. We’re doing the same thing that we were doing back then. The players changed it.”
Marcum was 5-for-16 passing for 156 yards and the two touchdowns. Reynolds was 1-for-2 passing for 12 yards.
C.J. Williams had three catches for 31 yards. Brett Musick also added a grab for nine yards.
Logan rushed 26 times for 231 yards. Brant Williams led the way with five rushes for 71 yards and a score. Marcum had 10 carries for 68 yards and a score. Street added 59 more yards on six attempts, while Reynolds had five totes for 33 yards.
The Cats outgained Mingo Central 399-260 in total yards.
Street led Logan’s defense with eight tackles. Thomas Hunter, Chris Marcum and Tyler Vernatter had six stops each. Clayton Marcum and Tyler Workman had five apiece. Kade Doss, T.J. Tomblin, Teddy Nelson and Preston Hepler all had four stops each.
Nick Turner, Ty Yeager and Jacob “Hammer” Browning had two tackles each.
Street also had a fumble recovery. Tomblin and Browning each caused a fumble.
Craft had another good night on special teams for Logan. In addition to banging home all four extra point kicks, Craft also punted once for 52 yards and boomed a kickoff into the end zone for a touchback. He is averaging 46.5 yards a punt this season.
May finished the game with 16 rushes for 106 yards for the game. Chance Lester had 15 carries for 75 yards. Hall had nine carries for 20 yards and three catches for 19 net yards.
The Miners finished with 260 yards of total offense with 45 rushes for 216 yards. Quarterback Matt Lester was 7-for-13 passing for 44 yards. He also fired a complete pass on one of the two successful two-point conversions.
Logan football notebook
* Logan has two games left in the regular season — next Friday night at Hurricane and Nov. 2 at Scott.
The Wildcats won’t have to worry about muddy field conditions.
Both games will be played on Field Turf.
Hurricane, ranked No. 7 in the state in Class AAA, was drilled on Friday night at home by No. 12 Spring Valley, 55-27. Both teams are 5-3 on the season.
Logan upset the Redskins, 27-23, last season at home at a muddy and rain-soaked Logan Stadium.
The Wildcats need a split in their final two games and a 7-3 record to get into the playoffs for the third straight season and for the fifth time in the Gary Mullins era.
“We’ve got two shots to get in,” Mullins said. “If we win them both we’re going to have a good seed. If we lose them both we’ll be watching (the playoffs). It’s very simple for us. We’ve got a chance to lock up the playoffs next week. They’re a very good football team. I’m proud of our guys for bouncing back and getting to six wins and making this game mean so much next week. Last year, we took advantage of it in the same situation.”
Logan’s last opponent, Scott, was idle this week. The Skyhawks are 7-1 and ranked No. 6 in the state this week in 2A. Scott’s only loss this season was to No. 1 Wayne.
* Logan honored its 12 senior players on Friday night during Senior Night. Those 12 are: Khaleel Reynolds; C.J. Williams; Brant Williams; Trent Dalton; Brian Ball; Chris Marcum; Thomas Hunter; Kade Doss; T.J. Tomblin; Austin Bayless; Brian Craft; and Teddy Nelson.
* At halftime, the Logan football team presented a $1,300 check to the American Cancer Society.
As part of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Logan players continued to wear pink socks at Friday night’s game.
Logan coach Gary Mullins wore a pink T-shirt which read on the front, “Wildcats believe in the cure.”
* According to early projections, Logan is expected to rise to 14th in this week’s WVSSAC Computer Ratings. The top 16 teams in each of the state’s three classifications qualify for the playoffs which begin Nov. 9.
The new rankings are officially released on Tuesday at 2 p.m.
If the season ended today, the Wildcats would travel to No. 3 Huntington for a rematch in the first round of the playoffs.