HICO — Many of the jersey numbers were largely unreadable.
However, the only digits with which the Patriots faithful were truly concerned — 14-2 and 11-0 — were crystal clear.
Facing No. 15 Tucker County on sloppy Roger Eades Field at Patriot Stadium Friday in a Class A first-round playoff matchup, No. 2 Midland Trail spotted the Mountain Lions an early safety but eventually claimed a 14-2 win to keep its record spotless at 11-0 and advance to next weekend's second round.
Morgan Ferris rushed for 139 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries to help guide the Patriots past the Mountain Lions.
Reserve sophomore quarterback Christopher Vines completed two timely passes and had a 5-yard touchdown run for Midland Trail. Vines showed poise while playing in relief of starting quarterback Austin Isaacs, who departed the game late in the first quarter with a high ankle sprain.
Vines scored his six-pointer on a bootleg run on fourth-and-goal from the 5 on the first play of the final period. Three plays earlier, he had connected with Nathan Hanshew on a 19-yard aerial on third-and-14 from the 28 to set up a first-and-goal situation.
"It means a lot to us, winning even though we lost one of our best players," said Ferris, a senior. "We stuck together as a team."
Ferris also praised the play of Vines as he stepped in for Isaacs.
Trail head coach Frank Isaacs, Austin Isaacs' father, admitted the injury to his son affected him during the game, and he said his assistant coaches did a good job of stepping up and handling things.
"I told my coaches I was going to need a few minutes," said the elder Isaacs. "They did an awesome job."
"Chris Vines did an unbelievable job," Isaacs continued. Some blocking scheme adjustments helped the Patriots move the ball better in the adverse field conditions as the game progressed, he added, and the team responded well to its new quarterback.
"They (Tucker County) did a good job of keeping us in the phone booth," Isaacs said. "They played real good field position in the first half.
"But I felt real comfortable with our defense."
Midland Trail limited the Mountain Lions to 46 yards in total offense.
Tucker County drew first blood when Seth Cangley tackled Vines in the end zone for a safety early in the second quarter.
The Mountain Lions could do nothing on the possession following the ensuing free kick, then the Patriots responded with a 7-play, 69-yard drive which ended with a 5-yard touchdown run by Ferris with 7:55 to play in the second. The conversion run by Vines made it 8-2.
On the drive, Vines connected with Hanshew on a key 18-yard pass across the middle, then Ferris ripped off a 44-yard run to set up a first-and-goal situation.
Jonathon Stark logged three interceptions for the Midland Trail defense, which kept Tucker County off-balance all night with a strong pass rush and by clogging up the running lanes. Cordell Lesher registered 10 tackles, one assist and two sacks and forced a fumble. Jakob Pridemore had three tackles, two sacks and two assists, Trevor Maichle recorded four tackles and two assists, Hunter Jones had four tackles, an assist and a sack, and Hanshew had four tackles and one assist.
Maichle punted four times for a 42.3 average.
The Patriots move on to face No. 7 Sherman, which dispatched No. 10 Parkersburg Catholic 44-8 Friday. The second-round game will be played at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 16 at Greenbrier East High School.
Tucker County finishes its season at 6-5.
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Midland Trail 14, Tucker County 2
TC (6-5): 0 2 0 0 — 2
MT (11-0): 0 8 0 6 — 14
TC: Seth Cangley tackled Christopher Vines in end zone, 2-0, 11:50
MT: Morgan Ferris 5 run (Vines run), 8-2, 7:55
MT: Vines 5 run (pass failed), 14-2, 11:54
RUSHING — TC: Cole Rapp 8-12, Hunter Collar 7-27, Ben Callaway 7-19, Liam Hood 5-(-26), Team 1-(-13). MT: Cordell Lesher 5-15, Morgan Ferris 17-139-1, Austin Isaacs 7-25, Colton Yoder 1-(-2), Nathan Hanshew 2-3, Trevor Maichle 1-(-19), Christopher Vines 12-10-1.
PASSING — TC: Liam Hood 3-21-3-27-0. MT: Christopher Vines 2-5-0-37-0.
RECEIVING — TC: Gariet Pennington 1-14, Collar 1-(-7), Jeffrey Snyder 1-20. MT: Hanshew 2-37.
TAKEAWAYS — TC: Collar (FR). MT: Jonathon Stark (3 INT).