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Blue Dons fall just short

Two-point conversion in overtime gives Wahama the Class A title

December 2, 2012
By RALPH COX - Sports correspondent , The Herald-Star

WHEELING - In a game that was like a championship prize fight, Wahama was successful with a two-point conversion in overtime and came out with a thrilling 43-42 victory to win the 2012 West virginia Class A championship Saturday night at Wheeling Island Stadium.

The teams battled through four quarters with big play after big play and hard hit after hard hit to finish tied in regulation at 35-35.

The game was not without its dramatic moments, especially in the overtime. The White Falcons won the toss and elected to start the overtime on defense.

Article Photos

Mike Mathison
HEARTBRAKING?LOSS — Madonna’s Eliott Nero is hugged by his brother Nick?Nero following the Blue Don’s 43-42 overtime loss to Wahama in the West Virginia Class A state championship game Saturday at Wheeling Island Stadium.

It took the Blue dons (12-2) five plays to march the 20 yards for the score with junior quarterback and Madoonna player of the game, Ross Comis burrowing his way into the end zone from two yards out. Comis provided the bulk of the offense for the Blue Dons rushing the ball 27 times for 145 yards and five touchdowns. Sophomore Matt Green booted the ball between the uprights as he had done on Madonna's five previous scores to give his team the lead at 42-35.

Wahama responded when it got the ball at the 20-yard line with a three-play drive that was highlighted by an 18-yard pass from quarterback Trenton Gibbs to running back Kane Roush on the second play to put the ball on the one-yard line. From there, burly fullback, Zack Wamsley bulled his way to paydirt.

Wahama coach, Ed Cromley, called time out to set up the winning play.

Fact Box

Wahama 43, Madonna 42, OT

Madonna 7 7 7 14 7 - 42

Wahama 6 6 16 7 8 - 43

M: Comis 17 run (Green kick)

W: Wamsley 9 run (run failed)

M: Comis 2 run (Green kick)

W: Wamsley 1 run (pass failed)

W: Rouch 17 run (Wamsley pass from Gibbs)

M: Comis 12 run (Green kick)

W: Roush 4 run (Roush run)

M: Comis 6 run (Green kick)

W: Roush 41 run (Wamsley kick)

M: Biondello 21 pass from Comis (Green kick)

M: Comis 2 run (Green kick)

W: Wamsley 1 run (Gibbs run)

RUSHING: Madonna: 41-226 (Comis 27-145-5td, Nero 8-64, Ossman 6-26). Wahama: 56-338 (Roush 23-170-3, Wamsley 21-113-3, Gibbs 8-56, Neal 4-2.

PASSING: Madonna 8-9-131-1-0 (all by Comis); Wahama 5-9-78-0-1x (Gibbs 5-8-78-0-0, Zuspan (0-1-0-0-1x).

RECEIVING: Madonna: Hypes 3-56, Bowser 2-19, Guio 1-41, Biondillo 1-21-1. Wahama: Roush 5-78.

FIRST DOWNS: Madonna 18, Wahama 21.

PENALTIES: Madonna 8-63, Wahama 2-15.

FUMBLES: Madonna 0-0, Wahama 0-0.

POSSESSION: Madonna 21:39; Wahama 38:21.

"I favored going for two in that situation because I didn't want it to become and extra point kicking contest because they had drilled all of theirs and we had trouble with ours," said Cromley, who has been 18 years at the helm of the White Falcons. "I just felt we had better go ahead and try for two points."

As the teams lined up for the two-pointer from the 3-yard line, the Blue Dons were called for being off side. With the ball moved halfway between the one and two yard lines, the White Falcons quickly lined up in what Cromley termed his "bear" formation. Gibbs faked a handoff to Wamlsey, who had punished the Blue Don defense all game with plunges into the middle, pulled the ball in and dashed over the left side for the points that won the school's first state championship.

"We wanted to be on defense first in the overtime, but Wahama won the toss and took defense," said second-year Blue Don coach, Doug Taylor. "I thought we did well getting the ball in for the score. We thought about going for two after we scored first in the overtime, but we decided to kick instead."

Those two series of plays in the overtime were just a postlude to regulation time.

The Blue Dons took the early lead, but fell behind and were forced to drive 67 yards in the final 6:45 of the game to score the touchdown that sent the game into overtime.The drive took 14 plays and lasted 5:58. It culminated whan a scrambling Comis found junior Marcello Biondillo wide open in the left corner of the end zone from 21 yards out with 47.6 seconds left in regulation time.

Coach Taylor called his last time out and the Blue Dons went back out on the field obviously intending to go for the two-point conversion that would allow them to take home their third state championship trophy.

However, as Madonna lined up, they were short a player. With no time outs left, the play clock ticked down to zero as the tardy Blue Don raced out onto the field. Madonna was penalized five yards and forced to have Green kick the point to tie the game.

"We originally decided to kick for the point, but during the time out we changed and were going for the two-ponter, but the penalty forced us to go back to the kick," Taylor explained.

The two teams exchanged touchdowns in the first quarter with Comis going 16 yards for the score on Madonna's second possession of the game. Wahama retaliated with a nin-yard Wamsley run up the middle, but the white Falcons had trouble with thesnap on the extra point kick try to Wamsley leaving the Blue Dons with a 7-6 lead after the first period.

Madonna came back quickly as Garrett Hypes, one of four Blue Don seniors, returned the kickoff from his own 35 to the Wahama 38. Comis reeled off 22 yards on a keeper and junior Elliott nero dashed for 14 more. That put the ball at the White Falcon two from where Comis went through the middle for the score that gave madonna a 14-6 lead.

Wahama came right back with Wamsley, who gained 112 yards on 21 carries with three touchdowns, bulled into the end zone from the one.The White Falcons attempted to pass for the two-pointer, but the ball fell incomplete. That gave Madonna the 14-12 lead that they took with them to the locker room at halftime.

Wahama, which got the first possession in the second half, drove 60 yards to take the lead for the first time, but it was during this drive that the momentum of the game changed. The Madonna defense, which hadn't allowed more than 28 points in a game all season, forced the White Falcons to punt from their own 46-yard line. However, a Blue Don defender ran into the punter on the play giving Wahama a first down at midfield.

The White Falcons to advantage of the mistake and wound up scoring when senior Kane Roush, who led all rushers with 179 yards in the game, scored the first of his three second half touchdowns. With the ball at the Madonna 17, Roush took a handoff and raced outside to the right, shook off a tackler and pranced into the end zone. Gibbs passed to Wyatt Zuspan for the two-point conversion that gave the White Falcons a 20-14 lead.

"That penalty on the punt was definitely a big play for them," said Taylor. "We had them stopped. But, hey, they are kids and they are going to make mistakes."

Madonna struck quickly again on the ensuring possession. An alert Travis Brown pounced on an attempted onside kick by Wahama giving the Blue Dons good field possession at their onw 49. Four plays later, Comis kept the ball over the right side and got into the end zone as he was hit at the one. Highlight of the short drive was a 28-yard scamper by Nero. Green's kick got the lead back for Madonna at 21-20.

It didn't last long, however. Wahama bounced right back with a 55-yard drive that finished when Roush powered his way into the end zone from four yards out. Roush added two more points with another power sweep for the two-pointer giving the White Falcons the lead at 28-21 going into the fourth quarter.

Madonna scored to tie the game at 28 on the next possession going 68 yards in 11 plays. Comis covered the last six yards with a keeper through left guard.

Waham didn't waste any time taking the lead again. They drove 70 yards in four plays with Roush sweeping right and cutting back toward the middle of the field to find an opening. The scoring play covered 41 yards. Wamsley's kick gave the White Falcons at 35-28 lead with 6:45 left in the game to set up Madonna's final drive the tie the game in regulation.

"People talked about Wahama being a physical team, but that's the way we play, too. We wanted to show that tonight ," added Taylor. "It's a heart breaking loss for our kids, but we'll be back. Tomorrow the sun's going to rise and we'll be back on the right side of the horizon again."

Taylor said the Blue Dons were take a couple weeks off and get back into the weight room to begin preparations for the 2013 season.

"I can't say enough about the way our offensive line played tonight," Taylor continued. "The way Ross (Comis) played tonight is the way he's played all season. And our other backs had outstanding games, too - Nero and Ossman. (Wil) Bowser did well and so did (Garrett) Hypes.

Comis, who went into the game needing just 53 all-purpose yards to eclipse 3,000 for the season, finished with 276 total yards rushing and passing giving him 3,223 for the year. He completed eight of nine passes for 131 yards giving him 1,561 stripes through the air. his 145 yards on the ground gave him 1,662 total rushing yards.