Tyler Falls in Knight Battle
Just one week after Magnolia ended Wheeling Central’s perfect season, it seemed the 16th ranked Silver Knights might have a chance to hand the number one ranked Maroon Knights their second defeat in a row. However, the Maroon Knights had other ideas in the first round of the state football playoffs on Friday night at Brooke High School.
The week prior at Magnolia, the Maroon Knights were without their All-State quarterback due to an injury, and Magnolia took advantage. On Friday, as Curtis McGhee III returned to action, he threw for five touchdowns and 296 yards on 15-18 passing to lead Wheeling Central to a 61-30 win over the Silver Knights.
Despite four scores from Tyler Consolidated’s junior star Mark Rucker, the Maroon Knights used a 34-6 first quarter lead to coast to the victory. Central scored the first 14 points of the game with less than three minutes off the clock before the Silver Knights got a quick score at the 8:59 mark when Rucker caught a Griffin Phillips pass and raced 97 yards for a score, to pull to within eight after the conversion pass failed.
Wheeling got three more scores in the quarter, but the Silver Knights held them scoreless in the second period while Rucker got back on the board on a four-yard run with 5:29 to play in the half. Coming out of the locker room, Central got two scores to push the lead to 48-14 before Rucker went in from five yards out to make it 48 18.
Early in the fourth with 10:49 on the clock, Phillips found Rucker on a 15-yard pass play for six, and the Maroon Knights’ lead was cut to 48-24. Central added two more scores in the fourth for a 61-24 lead before the Silver Knights fullback, Hunter Forester, burst through for a 20-yard touchdown run with 1:20 remaining and the final score.
Wheeling Central led in first downs, 23-17.
The Silver Knights recovered one Central fumble. Central led in total yardage, 575 to 394. Phillips was 14-29 passing with two touchdowns while running five times for 14 yards. Rucker caught nine passes for 154 yards and two touchdowns, while rushing for 60 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries.
The Silver Knights finished the season 6-5, while the Maroon Knights improved to 10-1 with a return match against Magnolia this week in Wheeling. Wheeling Central Coach Mike Young called Rucker the toughest back they’ve played all year. “He’s the reason they put 30 points on the board.”
“We knew going in it was a tough matchup. Especially with their loss to Magnolia and the return of McGhee. I am extremely proud of this team; they worked hard all year and fought through a lot of adversity. We lost a few key players to injuries early on, and we were down in numbers since the beginning of the season. These guys never gave up, and they followed the leadership of Phillips and Rucker. We played well as a team and didn’t back down from anyone. We set a goal at the beginning of the season to make the playoffs, and we accomplished it. We would have liked to gone further, but we lost a couple games early on we had chances to win, so we ended up in the 16th spot playing the number one team,” said Coach Ryan Walton.
“Wheeling Central is a very good football team, and we did some things well; we just don’t have the numbers to stay with a team like that.”
The Silver Knights will now start getting ready for basketball. They are under a new coach this season but have some pretty good players to build around. Coach Steve Nutter will try to make the Silver Knights into a contender and maybe get a return trip to Charleston, where they lost in the quarterfinals last season to a good Wheeling Central team.