POINT PLEASANT, W.Va. — Veteran senior quarterback Trenton Gibbs and versatile junior Colton Neal produced prominent leadership roles Saturday afternoon in leading the third-rated Wahama White Falcons past fifth-ranked Greenbrier West by a 21-12 count before a large Bend Area following at Point Pleasant High School in quarterfinal round action of the West Virginia High School Class A playoffs.
The duo staged exceptional performances both offensively and defensively for the Mason County gridders as Wahama advanced to the Final Four in Class A circles for the third consecutive season.
Gibbs scored two touchdowns on runs of 46 and one yards while connecting on four of eight passes for 101 yards. Neal recorded an acrobatic 45-yard pass reception to set up what became a crucial second half Falcon score during the intense postseason triumph.
The post-season triumph was the eighth straight win in playoff contests that the White Falcons have hosted and was the Bend Area teams’ seventh consecutive postseason triumph at Point Pleasant High School.
Third-ranked Wahama will put its unbeaten 12-0 record on the line this weekend when the White Falcons travel to No. 2 Magnolia for a semifinal round matchup with the Blue Eagles and a journey to the Class A finals on the line.
Magnolia (11-1) defeated 7th ranked East Hardy by a 19-14 margin Saturday evening in New Martinsville to advance to the semi-final round confrontation with the White Falcons.
Gibbs and Neal also starred on defense for WHS with Gibbs batting down a potential game-tying Cavalier two-point conversion pass in the end zone in addition to keeping 6-foot-6 Greenbrier West star wideout Josh Martin in check.
Neal recorded his second consecutive defensive gem after moving from his normal defensive end position into the middle of the Bend Area teams’ interior line.
His performance promptly made a huge impact in the playoff outing with the multitalented junior coming up with numerous tackles on the afternoon while forcing a fourth quarter Cavalier fumble that proved to be instrumental in the victory.
Wahama also received tremendous performances from several other gridders during the nail-biting, playoff affair that ultimately became a tale of two halves. The White Falcons struggled with its normally punishing ground attack but righted the ship with a strong second half showing to turn the tide.
Except for Gibbs’ 46-yard run in the opening quarter WHS was limited to just 12 yards on the ground during the first two quarters with the locals leading ground gainers Kane Roush and Zack Wamsley netting just three and two yards rushing respectively during the games first 24 minutes.
Roush enjoyed a profitable final quarter to finish with 86 yards on the day and a 10-yard scoring jaunt while Wamsley picked up 30 tough yards against a huge Greenbrier West front wall in addition to booting a trio of PAT kicks.
Despite experiencing difficulty with its rushing game Roush and Wamsley found other ways to assist the WHS cause. Wamsley provided a key block that erased a pair of Greenbrier West defenders to allow Gibbs to race 46 yards for the game’s first touchdown with Roush making a successful critical decision on a fake punt at the Cavalier’s 44 yard line midway through the final period to allow Wahama to complete an 80 yard, 15 play scoring drive to essentially put the game on ice.
The contest proved to be a solid team effort with the everyone contributing in one way or another. Crandal Neal experienced a productive afternoon defensively with Wyatt Zuspan coming up with two dazzling pass receptions for 55 yards. Once again the interior line play of Wesley Harrison, Tyler Nutter, Zack Killingsworth, Lane Sparks, Jesse Hesson, Clayton Sines, Josh Haddox and Benny Youkers was prominent in the win.
Despite being dominated by Greenbrier West throughout the first two quarters the White Falcons were able to come up with enough stops and big plays to limit the Cavaliers to just one touchdown. Greenbrier West drove deep into Wahama on three of four possessions in the opening two quarters but came away empty handed on all but one occasion. WHS thwarted one drive when Tyler Nutter recovered a Cavalier fumble at the WHS 10-yard line with the Falcons defense producing huge stops on two other potential Greenbrier West drives.
Gibbs put Wahama on top by a 7-0 margin with 4:34 to play in the first canto when he scrambled out of the pocket and picked up a huge block by Wamsley on the near sideline before racing 46 yards for the game’s first score. The run capped a 72-yard, six-play drive with Gibbs also tossing a 32 yard pass to Zuspan during the series.
Greenbrier West followed with a short 24-yard, two-play scoring drive on its first possession of the second quarter. After a 25-yard punt return by Malik Boatwright the Cavaliers picked up six yards on a Tyler Parker run before Parker broke several tackles on an 18-yard scoring jaunt with 10:02 remaining in the half. The two-point conversion attempt was unsuccessful leaving Wahama clinging to a 7-6 halftime edge.
The White Falcons marched 67 yards following the second half kickoff before Gibbs went the final yard for the six points. The big play in the series was a 45-yard pass connection from Gibbs to Colton Neal to give Wahama a first down at the Greenbrier West five yard line. Wamsley’s point after kick gave WHS a 14-6 lead with 8:19 to play in the third period.
The visitors again answered following a Falcon turnover when Martin intercepted a WHS pass and returned pick to the local’s 23 yard line. Six plays later Boatwright sneaked in from a yard out but the potential game tying two point conversion pass was batted down by Gibbs to preserve a 14-12 Falcon advantage with 11:40 remaining in the contest.
Wahama then embarked on what was its most influential possession of the day. Beginning at its own 20, the White Falcons methodically grounded out substantial chunks of yardage while using up precious time on a running clock. A 12-yard run by Gibbs and a three-yard gain by Roush on a pair of third down situations surrounded a daring fourth down fake punt by Roush kept the chains and the clock moving. Roush culminated the 15-play drive with a 10-yard burst to ice the game with 5:02 to play and provide Wahama with a 21-12 lead.
In the final five minutes, Greenbrier West was afforded two more chances at cutting into the WHS edge but Neal forced a Cavalier fumble with Zuspan falling on the loose pigskin before Wes Harrison and Benny Youkers combined for a fourth down sack of Boatwright and the celebration began.
Wahama closed out the afternoon with 193 yards rushing and another 101 passing for 294 yards of total offense. Greenbrier West finished the day with 216 yards on the ground and another 81 through the air for a net total of 297 yards. Parker emerged as the games leading ground gainer with 152 yards in 27 carries.