‘Cats Claim County Supremacy
Three touchdown runs and 202 yards rushing by Paden City Wildcat Wes Cosper was too much for the Valley Lumberjacks to overcome, and Paden City brought home a 22-13 win Oct. 31 in the Wetzel County version of the Backyard Brawl
Valley’s Matthew Poling took the opening kick and ran it back 55 yards to the Wildcat 25 yard line. The first run from scrimmage was an 11-yarder by sophomore Ronald “Mercury” Morris, while freshman quarterback Garrett Ueltschy took it in for a two-yard TD for the game’s first points. Jeremiah Burch drilled the extra point kick and the ‘Jacks raced out to a 7-0 lead.
On the ensuing kickoff, the ‘Cats didn’t get anything going as the Lumberjacks’ defense stymied Paden City at the line of scrimmage. Garrett Ueltschy climbed the ladder to knock away a sure long gainer on defense, forcing Paden City to punt.
The Wildcat defense, led by Cosper and Ricky Wright, also forced the ‘Jacks to punt, but Cody Scott’s punt rolled to the 10 yard line.
After a five-yard run by Cosper, Taylor Still moved the chains for the first time on a nice gainer. Cosper connected with Still on a eight-yard pass play and then moved the chains once more on a quarterback run that ended the first quarter of play with the Valley Lumberjacks on top 7-0.
After a couple ‘Cat runs, Valley’s Poling stepped in front of a PC pass play and returned it to midfield. Morris ran off 15 yards to move the chains for Valley, but was stopped at the 26 yard line on a fourth and short situation. The Wildcats took over possession.
Cosper went right to work and connected with his favorite receiver, Ronnie Blatt, for 15 yards to move the sticks. Paden City fumbled the snap, but fell on the loose ball to keep possession. Cosper hit Still on a short gainer and Cosper moved the chains on a nice gainer up the gut that caught the Valley line off guard. Jeremiah Burch decked Cosper for a loss of yardage and a completed pass to Blatt was ruled out of bounds; Valley took over on a fourth down incomplete pass.
After a short run by Valley, Wright put pressure on Garrett Ueltschy who attempted a pass play that fell incomplete. But, on second effort, Morris moved the chains with 1:18 left to the break. Chris Loy sacked Ueltschy to push Valley back to the 45 yard line and Matt Poling found running room for a gain of some big yards. But, it came back on a penalty. Blatt came out of nowhere with an unbelievable interception to halt Valley’s charge and go into the locker room down only seven.
Valley moved the ball well offensively during the first half and held Cosper to 38 yards on 12 carries, but were up only a touchdown.
After the Valley kickoff, Paden City took over on their own 17 yard line. You could see from the first play from scrimmage that Cosper was in another world to begin the second half of action after he ran over a pair of ‘Jack defenders and a teammate for a 26-yard gainer.
After eight straight runs by Cosper that moved the chains five times, he would find the end zone from five yards out to narrow the gap to one, pending the outcome of the conversion attempt. Paden City set up for a Cosper conversion kick, but faked the kick and dished it off to Blatt to take the lead 8-7. The drive accumulated 79-yards and took over six minutes.
The Lumberjacks got good field possession after a squib kick at their own 43 yard line. Paden City’s Michael Greathouse met Valley’s Poling at the line for no gain, but a pair of Morris runs moved the chains for Valley. Coleman Ueltschy bullied his way for big yardage, but Cosper decked Garrett Ueltschy for a five-yard loss. Garrett Ueltschy connected with Cody Scott on a short gainer, thanks to a tremendous open field tackle by Cosper.
Forced with a fourth and long, Valley pitched it out to Morris on what appeared to be a first down run. But, he was forced out of bounds just short of the first down marker and Paden City took over.
“That was a huge play,” said Valley Assistant Coach Jim West. “We were running well and moving the ball. And if we got the first down, it would have been a much different game.”
Cosper ran for 15 yards to start the ‘Cats’ next drive. Morris broke through the PC defensive line and brought Cosper down for a loss of yardage, forcing a fourth-and-four. Cosper used his blockers well and escaped the grasp of the Lumberjacks for a first down. The Wildcats used the Statue of Liberty play for a nice gain, but a penalty negated a nice run by Taylor Still. Faced with a first and 20, Paden City went to its bread and butter, Cosper, who picked up 18 yards to end the third period of play.
Morris tackled Cosper again for a loss of yardage. The Wildcats gave Cosper a play off and Still bullied his way for a nine-yard gain. Two plays later Cosper ran it in from 12 yards out. However, the ‘Jack defense held tough and Valley was down only seven with a little over nine minutes to play in regulation.
After a short kick, Valley had excellent field position at its own 40 yard line. The Wildcat defense, led by Wright and Blatt, forced the ‘Jacks to punt and Paden City took over at the 11 yard line with seven minutes to go.
Still gained five yards, but the Lumberjack defense held and this time the ‘Cats were forced to punt.
A short Paden City punt had the ‘Jacks licking their chops at the Wildcat 36 yard line. The duo of Morris and Coleman Ueltschy set up a 13-yard touchdown run by Morris to narrow the gap to one point. Instead of going for the tie, the ‘Jacks went for the win. But the Wildcats stopped them short with 3:07 left on the clock.
Valley tried an on-side kick, but the ‘Cats’ Wright came from his end position to pull it in at the 50 yard line. A few plays later, Cosper broke loose on a 38-yard run for a checkmate after another two point conversion run by Cosper. Blatt sealed the deal for Paden City with his second pass interception.
“It was disappointing in our win column,” said West, “but we had several games lost in overtime and several more that we lost by a touchdown or less, and could and should have more victories. We are excited about next season. You have to tip your hat to the Cosper kid, he is the best back we have faced all year.”
The Wildcats had 55 plays from scrimmage, with Cosper getting the call 39 times for 240 yards rushing. He connected with Blatt once and Still twice for 266 total yards. Still added 27 yards rushing.
Defensively, Cosper had 18 tackles, two of which were for loss of yardage. Josh Bennett added seven tackles, while Wright and Blatt each hauled down four ‘Jacks. Blatt added two interceptions, while Wright had several hurries and Loy a quarterback sack.
“That was one of the best performances I ever saw at Paden City on both sides of the ball,” said PCHS Head Coach Brent Croasmun.
Morris led the ‘Jacks with 97 yards rushing and a touchdown, while Coleman Ueltschy added 20 yards. Scott netted 12 yards on one carry, while Garrett Ueltschy added 12 yards. Defensively, Morris led the way with 15 tackles. Scott hauled down 11, including two quarterback sacks. Michael Hornbeck also had 11 tackles, while Jacob Norris dropped 10. Scott also had three punts for a 40.2 average.
Valley ends its season with a 1-9 record, beating only Hannan in the season opener. They lost several key players to injuries throughout the season, including their head coach, Tom West. The Lumberjacks will lose eight seniors to graduation: Ryan Yeager, Jack Grimm, Freddie Guthrie, Jacob Norris, Michael Hornbeck, Morgan Long, Coleman Ueltschy, and Michael Streets.
Paden City will play its last home game this Friday, senior night, when the Wildcats tangle with Bishop Donahue at 7:30 p.m.