Ty Sturm, Catholic claw past Ritchie County, 32-28

DOMINIC CATACORA The Marietta Times Parkersburg Catholic’s Ty Sturm carries the ball during a high school football game against Ritchie County Saturday at Stadium Field in Parkersburg.

PARKERSBURG — Ty Sturm punctuated Parkersburg Catholic’s first 2-0 start since 2013 here Saturday night at Stadium Field with a late 97-yard touchdown gallop as the Crusaders held on to win a wild one against Ritchie County, 32-28.

PCHS, which trailed 14-7 at the break for second-year head coach Lance Binegar and is set to host South Harrison at 7:30 p.m. Friday, used a 19-point fourth quarter to take down the Rebels (1-1).

Facing a 26-20 deficit late in the fourth, the Rebels of head man Rick Haught had it first-and-goal at the 9. Three plays later, the squad from Ellenboro had the pigskin at the 2 and appeared to have the tying touchdown as Zack Cline bulled his way in. However, the play never officially happened because the hosts were called for a sideline warning. On the next snap, Cline tried to bull his way in again, but was ruled a foot short of the end zone.

Three players after that, Sturm jaunted 97 yards to paydirt for a 32-20 cushion with just 36.6 ticks to go.

The Rebels, who welcome Frontier for a 7 p.m. clash on Friday inside Chuck Schofield Memorial Stadium, took over at their own 43 with 27.8 left to play. A Dakota Wayne 33-yard pass to Kayden Procacina was followed by a 24-yard TD toss by Wayne to Tatem McCloy, who also hauled in the conversion pass to cut the deficit to four. Despite getting the onside kick at the PCHS 45, the Rebels had just one more play and McCloy had a 15-yard reception before being brought down to end it.

“I was just hoping we got the first down and then I saw I could turn it into something more,” Sturm said of his run.

The senior, who never left the field, finished with game-highs of 23 rushes for 227 yards. He also completed 3 of 4 passes for 77.

“It was fourth-and-2 and they were confident they were going to push it in and get it, but that’s when our pride came in and that’s being a Crusader and it showed right there,” Sturm said of the big defensive stand.

“I had Wade (Smitley) going down in front of me so there wasn’t much I could do, but I tried to push the guy’s head and tried to push him back as much as I could. Definitely a team win. Everyone did their part. I didn’t have a very good defensive game and I picked it up on offense. Everyone played their best.”

Jeb Boice, who had 19 totes for 53 stripes, got the second half started with a bang as he hauled in a 28-yard slant pass for a score from Sturm, but Clay Dexter’s extra point was blocked as PCHS still trailed 14-13. The Rebels then recovered a muffed punt thanks to Procacina and Garrett Owens, who had eight rushes for 40 yards, found paydirt from 15 yards out for a 20-13 lead at 2:38 of the third.

Parkersburg Catholic proceeded to tie it when Xavier Collie ran a bootleg and found the end zone from 4 yards out just seven seconds into the fourth. Dexter’s kick was true and the game was even at 20.

Coach Binegar’s squad took the lead for good at 26-20 with 5:44 remaining after the Rebels muffed a punt and got a 4-yard TD run from Sturm, who said of not getting caught from behind on his back-breaking run “I wasn’t going to let that happen. Surely, if I was going to go the distance, I was going to make sure I got there.”

Ritchie County scored on its opening possession of the game thanks to a Trey Moss (14-76) 1-yard TD run. PCHS answered and went ahead 7-6 when Sturm got his first six-pointer from the 1 and Dexter made the PAT.

The Rebels used the old wrap-around draw play on a third-and-21 from their own 34 as Cline (7-85) raced 19 yards before Moss went for 8 to get the first down. However, the Rebels’ drive stalled.

The visitors got a strip-sack by McCloy on the ensuing series, which was recovered by Trenton Richards. Wayne later used a 1-yard QB sneak to score and it was 14-7 when Wayne his Procacina for the conversion.

Despite PCHS getting intercepted by Blaine Bowie on its next drive late in the first half, the Crusader defense stiffened and forced a three-and-out.