MINFORD – Ty Wiget’s two lengthy touchdown dashes, which book-ended Saturday evening’s season opener, summed everything up.
The injury-riddled Rock Hill Redmen simply weren’t going to catch the Minford Falcons.
Minford made big plays from the opening kickoff to the closing whistle, as the Falcons soared past the larger Redmen 43-12 at Minford High School.
The matchup marked the seventh meeting between the two squads since 2012, with Minford winning all except the Redmen’s runaway win three years ago.
The Falcons’ 43 points are the most scored by either team over that same seven-year span.
The game was originally scheduled for Friday night, but was postponed a day due to inclement weather – with rainwater significantly saturating the playing surface.
Indeed, the field was dried out on Saturday, and neither it nor the Redmen could slow down the speedy Falcons.
Wiget ran the opening kickoff back 81 yards for a touchdown, then closed the scoring by sprinting 68 yards up the middle with five minutes remaining.
The final four minutes and 55 seconds was played under the Ohio High School Athletic Association’s running-clock rule, as several reserves ran the football for Rock Hill on its final possession.
By then, though, the Falcons had long since sealed an important opening-week win.
“Every team wants to get week one, because it springs you forward for week two and often times for the rest of the season,” said Minford coach Jesse Ruby. “We have a lot of speed with our skilled guys, who are very talented and can make people miss and score on any play.”
Wiget rushed for 121 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries – the other TD being a two-yard plunge to cap a two-play, 26-second possession with two minutes remaining in the third quarter.
Of course, though, his return of the season-opening kickoff caught everybody’s attention.
Wiget ran up and scooped up the ball at the 19, his momentum initially taking him into a line of Rock Hill defenders and Minford blockers.
But he broke free from would-be tacklers, got to the outside on the right side, and outraced the remaining Redmen for the final 50 yards.
“It was kicked kind of short, one of those where he (Wiget) had to come up and pick it up off the ground. At first, I thought he was stopped at around the 35-yard-line. But he squeezed through, made a kid miss, and he just has real good speed and outran everybody,” said Ruby. “He sees the field very well, and took full advantage of an opportunity.”
Elijah Vogelsong-Lewis, the left-hander and new quarterback this season, led the Falcons with 163 passing yards and two touchdowns on 10-of-17 attempts.
He added 22 yards on four carries, part of 148 rushing yards on 23 totes as a team.
His four-yard touchdown run with a minute remaining in the opening quarter closed a six-play, 42-yard drive, making it 14-0 with Caleb Yuhas’ second of five successful extra-point kicks.
Vogelsong-Lewis found his receivers open in space, and those wideouts did their part by picking yards after the catch.
“Elijah is such a natural thrower, and he is so smart about where to put the football. He reads his keys very well,” said Ruby of his signal-caller. “He trusts his receivers, they trust him and they have really good chemistry together.”
Early in the fourth quarter, and with the Falcons leading 29-12, Vogelsong-Lewis put the contest out of reach with a wide-receiver screen to Matthew Risner right at the Redmen 37, as Risner ran well behind his downfield blockers all the way to the end zone.
The Yuhas extra point made it 36-12 with only 10:51 remaining, as run-oriented Rock Hill – with forced second-half shifts in its offensive backfield and a limited passing attack – couldn’t rally after that.
Risner caught four passes for 72 yards, as Drew Skaggs made three receptions for 37, including a 14-yard touchdown to make it 22-0 with 37 seconds left before halftime.
A low snap on the point-after try turned a Yuhas kick attempt into an improvised Vogelsong-Lewis run, which he converted for the two-point conversion.
That capped a four-play, 80-yard drive, as Vogelsong-Lewis completed passes to Skaggs for 14 and to Wiget for 26 on the opening two plays to move Minford into the red zone.
The Falcons will travel to Chesapeake next week, as the Panthers – an injury-plagued team last year – opened their season with a 35-13 victory over Oak Hill.
Chesapeake is coached by former Rock Hill head coach Todd Knipp.
“Next week will be a totally different challenge for us altogether. It is going to be a much different offensive scheme, so we have to get lined up correctly and be able to read our keys,” said Ruby. “They are going to do some things to cause us some issues, but we have to prepare this week and respond and adjust accordingly.”
Minford 43, Rock Hill 12
Rock Hill 0 0 12 0 – 12
Minford 14 8 7 14 – 43
M — Ty Wiget, 81-yard kickoff return (Caleb Yuhas kick), 11:44, 1st (7-0 M)
M — Elijah Vogelsong-Lewis, 4-yard run (Caleb Yuhas kick), 1:00, 1st (14-0 M)
M — Drew Skaggs, 14-yard pass from Elijah Vogelsong-Lewis (Elijah Vogelsong- Lewis run), :37, 2nd (22-0 M)
RH — Brayden Friend, 36-yard run (pass failed), 9:36, 3rd (22-6 M)
M — Ty Wiget, 2-yard run (Caleb Yuhas kick), 2:00, 3rd (29-6 M)
RH — Logan Hankins, 2-yard run (run failed), :23, 3rd (29-12 M)
M — Matthew Risner, 37-yard pass from Elijah-Vogelsong Lewis (Caleb Yuhas kick), 10:51, 4th (36-12 M)
M — Ty Wiget, 68-yard run (Caleb Yuhas kick), 4:55, 4th (43-12 M)
First downs 17 18
Plays from scrimmage 59 40
Rushes-yards 54-260 23-148
Passing yards 13 163
Total yards 273 311
Cmp-Att-Int. 1-5-0 10-17-0
Fumbles-lost 2-2 1-1
Penalties-yards 9-85 6-40
Punts-average 3-27.7 1-34
RUSHING —Rock Hill: Logan Hankins 17-94 TD, Brayden Friend 10-66 TD, T.J. McGinnis 12-53, Hayden Harper 6-25, Skyler Kidd 3-17, Chase Delong 4-8, Kordell French 1-3, Trenton Williams 1-(-6); Minford: Ty Wiget 14-121 2TD, Elijah Vogelsong-Lewis 4-22 TD, Matthew Risner 2-8, Andy Crank 2-2, Team 1-(-5)
PASSING — Rock Hill: Brayden Friend 1-5-0-13; Minford: Elijah Vogelsong- Lewis 10-17-0-163 2TD
RECEIVING — Rock Hill: Logan Hankins 1-13; Minford: Matthew Risner 4-72, Drew Skaggs 3-47 TD, Ty Wiget 2-36, Bryson Ashley 1-8
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