By Paul Adkins
NEWTOWN – Saturday night’s Hatfield McCoy Bowl XVIII started with Kentucky All-Star Michael Moaga doing a traditional Samoan dance at midfield during the player introductions.
As the game progressed the West Virginia All-Stars were soon dancing in the end zone.
All night long.
West Virginia dominated play and handled the Kentucky All-Stars 32-7 in the annual Hatfield-McCoy Senior Bowl at Mingo Central’s Buck Harless Stadium and improved to 12-6 in the all-time series. West Virginia won for the second straight year and for the ninth time in the last 10 meetings.
Bolstered with a roster including some of the best of local Coalfield talent and players from the Kanawha Valley, Cabell Midland and Beckley, West Virginia dominated play and silenced all of the fiery talk from across the Tug.
Leading up to the game, West Virginia players read tweets and other internet comments from their counterparts. It was only added motivation as the “Hatfields” beat the “McCoys” in another border feud.
The West Virginia All-Stars outgained Kentucky 343-104 in total yards and took advantage of four turnovers by the Bluegrass State team.
West Virginia was 9-for-20 passing for 139 yards and also rushed 37 times for 205 more yards. Kentucky was held to 4-of-14 passing for only 19 yards and was limited to 28 rushes for 85 yards.
Wayne High School running back Brandon Spurlock was the West Virginia Offensive MVP as he ran for 84 yards on 17 carries and scored on touchdown runs of 4 and 6 yards. Spurlock led Wayne to back-to-back Class AA state championships and was the 2012 Double-A State Player of the Year.
The John Fry Award winner for best offensive lineman was Spurlock’s Wayne teammate Anthony Bryant.
West Virginia’s Defensive MVP was Cabell Midland’s Gage Gould.
Kentucky’s award winners were: Derrick Jude of Belfry, Ky. (John Fry Award); Richard Trent of Breathitt County, Ky. (Defensive MVP); and Ronnell Colbert of Louisville Doss High School (Offensive MVP).
Logan County was represented in the game by five players: Logan High School’s Chris Marcum, Brian Craft and Teddy Nelson; Man High School’s Marcus Murrell; and Chapmanville Regional High School’s Austin Watts.
All five played well.
Marcum was West Virginia’s backup quarterback and scored on a 64-yard keeper. He had four carries for a net 63 yards, made several tackles on defense and had an interception. Marcum was 0-for-2 passing.
Craft handled all of West Virginia’s kicking duties but didn’t have to punt. He made two extra point kicks.
Nelson played well along the defensive line and had a fumble recovery.
Watts started and linebacker and Murrell played on the line. Both had good games as well.
West Virginia All-Star quarterback Andrew Johnson of Beckley Woodrow Wilson High School was 9-for-18 passing for 139 yards with a touchdown and a pick. He also rushed for another 29 yards on eight carries and had another score.
West Virginia All-Star head coach Joey Fields, an assistant coach at hometown Mingo Central, guided his team to victory for the second straight year. He led West Virginia to a 37-12 victory in last year’s Hatfield-McCoy Senior Bowl.
Fields said it was a good week in seeing his team come together at practice and then seeing it all come together on the field.
“It was pretty good. Our guys responded all week,” Fields said. “When Kentucky did all of the talking I really didn’t have to do much to get these guys ready to play. They are competitors. They (Kentucky) were Tweeting and were talking and ran into one of my buddies at Giovanni’s. I really wasn’t worried about the game as far as that goes.”
West Virginia played a smothering defense, stuffing the line and then making Kentucky pass. West Virginia’s athletic secondary were then able to blanket Kentucky’s receivers for most of the game. Kentucky QB Trent was held to only 4-for-14 passing for 19 yards and two picks.
Kentucky had one less pass attempt than the bowl rule 15 but it really didn’t matter.
Kentucky seemed to not only be outmanned on the line they were also not able to keep up with West Virginia’s speed in the skilled positions.
“I hear a lot about that Belfry line but every time they play in this game they just don’t show me anything,” Fields said about his counterparts. “I think the competition is weak over there. As far as West Virginia high school teams go, these guys are getting competition week in and week out. It’s great to get these guys on the field and just see what happens.”
After a scoreless first quarter, West Virginia got on the scoreboard first with 7:08 left to go in the second period as Spurlock ran in for a 4-yard TD run. Craft’s PAT was good and West Virginia led 7-0. The drive started on the West Virginia 42 after Kentucky turned the ball over on downs following a failed fourth-down conversion when Trevon Johnson broke up a Trent pass.
West Virginia had looked to get on the board early in the first quarter but Andrew Johnson’s pass in the end zone was intercepted by Trent.
Three plays after the Spurlock touchdown, the West Virginia All-Stars were in business again as Marcum picked off Trent at the W.Va. 26-yard line and returned it 19 yards to the 45.
After a bad snap for a 17-yard loss and an 8-yard loss by Spurlock, West Virginia was in a third-and-35 hole at their own 47.
Andrew Johnson then fired a 37-yard pass to Austin Pyles (Wayne) for a first down. A 10-yard Kentucky penalty was tacked on, giving West Virginia a first-and-goal at the 6. Pyles had two grabs for 48 yards for the game.
Then on the very next play, Spurlock ran in for a 6-yard TD run, giving West Virginia a 13-0 lead with 3:16 to go until the half. Craft’s kick was wide right as rain began to fall on the Mingo Central FieldTurf.
West Virginia wasted little time in the third quarter. On the fourth play of the half, Marcum took a quarterback keeper and raced 64 yards up the gut for a touchdown to make it 19-0 with 10:31 showing on the clock. Craft’s kick was again wide right as rain continued to fall on the mountain top.
“He’s a heck of a player,” Fields said of Marcum. “I told him that we were going to get that play in. He told me, ‘hey, it’s time to get it.’ I said, ‘it is.’ He’s a tough player and I’ve enjoyed coaching him this week.”
Kentucky hoped to kick things in gear but five plays later Trent fumbled the ball and West Virginia’s Nelson of Logan scooped the ball up at the W.Va. 32-yard line after a mad scramble for the pigskin.
Fields said Nelson, a 300-pounder, played very well on the line.
“They challenged Teddy,” he said. “There was a lot of crap talk from Kentucky about Teddy and Teddy played a heck of a game. He showed what he can do.”
After the Nelson fumble recovery, West Virginia faced a fourth-and-10 at the 32 and looked to go for it, but instead, Johnson took the shotgun snap and pooched a surprise 30-yard punt which was downed at the Kentucky 2-yard line.
Four snaps later, Trent fumbled the ball away again and West Virginia took over at the Kentucky 40-yard line with 3:20 to go in the third period.
West Virginia would eventually score as Johnson ran in for a 6-yard touchdown with 38 ticks left in the third as the lead swelled to 25-0. The drive was kept alive with a fourth-and-six conversion as Ramon Edwards (Beckley) took a jet sweep for 7 yards. Edwards finished the game with 18 yards rushing and three catches for 25 more yards.
The West Virginia All-Stars then made it 32-0 with 8:45 left in the game as Johnson fired a 16-yard touchdown pass to Trevond Reese (South Charleston) on a slant post pattern. The two also hooked up for completions of 15 and 22 yards during the drive. Reese finished with three catches for 53 yards for the game and added an interception on defense late in the game.
Kentucky, aided by three 15-yard penalties on West Virginia, scored its lone touchdown of the game with 6:25 left as Trent found Zach Taylor (Belfry, Ky.) on a 7-yard pass play in the corner of the end zone. The extra point kick was good.
West Virginia was penalized eight times for 74 yards. Kentucky had five yellow hankies for 60 yards.
Trent led Kentucky on the ground with seven rushes for 39 net yards. Taylor had two catches for 17 yards.
Kentucky was coached by David Jones, who led the Bluegrass State team to a 30-14 victory over West Virginia in the 2011 Senior Bowl.
Just like two years ago, Jones expanded the Hatfield-McCoy Bowl map. This time he went further, grabbing three players from the Louisville area, one from Lexington Lafayette (Moaga), a kicker from West Jessamine in the Kentucky Bluegrass region and also players from Breathitt County, Corbin and Bardstown.
Coach Fields also did the same as he tapped into the football-rich markets of Cabell Midland, Capital, South Charleston, George Washington and Beckley as well as getting players from the Coalfields “block six” counties.
“They added a new dimension,” Field said of the out-of-area players. “I’m not denying the Louisville talent, too, on the other side. It’s unreal but there’s a lot of talent here in West Virginia in the Tri-State and up around Charleston. A lot of these fans had a good show because they got to see some of the Charleston area players that they normally don’t see. That was great.”
Fields said he hopes the Charleston/Huntington/Beckley area players are involved in future Hatfield-McCoy bowls.
“(Hatfield-McCoy Bowl Game Director) Yogi Kinder liked it,” Fields said. “The thing now is getting the best players that you can possibly get and then go play the game. For the fans, this is embracing these senior’s last game and seeing a great event. Our sponsor, Cliffs Natural Resources, did a great job in hosting the event.”
Cabell Midland’s Gould said after the game he enjoyed the Senior Bowl experience, saying it was more fun and more laid back compared to the North-South All-Star Classic.
“I heard that a lot this week. That’s what I told them when I was recruiting them,” Fields said. “I told them that you will see, not knocking any other all-star game, that this game is more intense and there is a lot of state pride. Hopefully their buddies came to the game and we can keep this going and keep them coming back.”
Representing Tug Valley High School in the game were Isaac Parsley and Aaron Muncy. Hometown players from Mingo Central were: Joe Jackson; Joe May; Joe Hall; Israel Reynolds; Garth Simpkins; and Quentin Yates, who was scheduled to leave on Sunday to begin his duties with the United States Marine Corps.
May had three carries for seven yards and a catch for three yards. Muncy had one rush for four yards.
Crowned at halftime as the Hatfield-McCoy Senior Bowl Queen was Kennedy Hager of Phelps High School, Ky.
Chapmanville Regional’s Caitlyn Barker was also honored after the game as the West Virginia All-Star cheerleading MVP.
Garth Simpkins of Mingo Central and Cody Trivette of Kentucky were the Mingo Central Boosters Scholarship Award winners.
All-Time Series (West Virginia leads 12-6)
2013: West Virginia 32, Kentucky 7
2012: West Virginia 37, Kentucky 12
2011: Kentucky 30, West Virginia 14
2010: West Virginia 20, Kentucky 0
2009: West Virginia 30, Kentucky 12
2008: West Virginia 22, Kentucky 14
2007: West Virginia 22, Kentucky 14
2006: West Virginia 32, Kentucky 19
2005: West Virginia 7, Kentucky 6
2004: West Virginia 8, Kentucky 0
2003: Kentucky 40, West Virginia 36
2002: West Virginia 14, Kentucky 12
2001: West Virginia 14, Kentucky 6
2000: Kentucky 6, West Virginia 0
1999: Kentucky 18, West Virginia 12
1998: Kentucky 22, West Virginia 19
1997: West Virginia 11, Kentucky 0
1996: Kentucky 7, West Virginia 0