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Prep football: Wellman busts out in Spring Valley's win over SC


HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - South Charleston football Coach John Messinger knew that Spring Valley senior running back Elijah Wellman would eventually have a breakout evening after a pair of subpar rushing performances to begin the season.

He just hoped it wouldn't be against the Black Eagles.

Unfortunately for Messinger, Wellman had other thoughts in mind.

After rushing for just 92 combined yards in the Timberwolves' first two games, the 6-foot-2, 230 pound Wellman erupted for 209 yards on 23 carries, including touchdown rushes of 51, 2, 1, and 3 yards, to lead Spring Valley to a 37-36 home win over SC.

The win ended a two-game losing skid for the Timberwolves, who improved to 1-2, while South Charleston dropped to 1-2.

"We knew that he had the potential to do that to us and he did it," Messinger said of Wellman, a West Virginia University signee.

"I said I hoped it didn't happen to us here tonight but it did. I knew it was coming, I knew it would happen eventually. I just didn't want it to happen against us."

For Wellman, the big night couldn't have come any sooner given his early struggles.

"I finally busted out," he said. "Our line did a terrific job tonight and just blew their (defensive) line up. We whipped them pretty bad and there were a lot of holes for our running backs."

Wellman said the Timberwolves had not had a run of more than 10-yards in either of their first two games, before finishing with 12 such runs against the Black Eagles, including runs of 51 and 50 yards by Wellman.

The Timberwolves' offensive line of Trevor Stacy, Matt Fuller, Josh Hammer, Matt Jones and Alex Locklear controlled the trenches from start to finish in leading the way to 492 rushing yards on 65 carries.

Senior back Ryan George also had a stellar evening for Spring Valley in rushing for 154 yards on 17 totes, including a 35-yard TD run in the first quarter.

Sophomore Tyler Robertson added 89 yards on eight carries for Spring Valley, with a long of 33 yards.

"My hat's off to them because that's the best offensive line play I've seen in our conference in a long, long, long, long time," said Messinger. "The thing that disappoints me the most is that we absolutely just got out-bullied.

"I know they were bigger, but I'll tell you something right now, that's the first time in a long time that I've seen our kids take a beat down, and they beat us down up front."

Things could have been worse for the Black Eagles had Spring Valley not lost five fumbles and thrown an interception at the SC goal line on the game's opening drive.

"All phases of our offense was clicking except we just kept turning it over to them," said Spring Valley Coach Brad Dingess. "We've got to fix that, but I've not seen an offensive line performance like that against a good football team like them in a long time.

"I just can't say enough about our kids and how they got after it physically and played hard."

Spring Valley's offensive onslaught began on the first series of the game in which it drove from its own 24-yard line to the Black Eagles' 17.  The drive ended when SC's Kevin Forrest intercepted Tyler Brown's first pass attempt at the 1-yard line.

After forcing a Black Eagles punt, Spring Valley cracked the end zone with a four-play, 52-yard drive, capped by George's 35-yard run.

SC answered on its next possession when Ken Haynes darted in from 19 yards out. A two-point conversion pass from Jon Alexander to Honore Dean gave the Black Eagles an 8-7 lead with 3:47 left in the quarter.

Wellman answered less than two minutes later with his 51-yard jaunt to give Spring Valley a 14-8 advantage.

South Charleston appeared to have regained some momentum when sophomore Daniel McAllister recovered a muffed punt at the Spring Valley 36.

After driving to the Spring Valley five yard line, Haynes appeared to have scored his second touchdown, but fumbled into the end zone where the Timberwolves' Colby Webb fell on it for a touchback.

The Black Eagles next possession ended when Alexander fumbled at the Timberwolves' six yard line with just over three minutes to play in the half.

"There were two times that we got ourselves into good scoring position in the first half and we totally screwed them up," said Messinger. "It was kind of our own fault because we shot ourselves in the foot, but at the end of the day, they forced us into them and just physically beat us up.

"We're a little banged up right now, but the worst hurting about us right now is our feelings."

The second half wasn't much better for the Black Eagles, who fumbled for the third straight possession after receiving the second half kickoff.  Haynes fumbled on a third down carry at the Black Eagles' 38 yard line setting up a two-yard plunge by Wellman to give Spring Valley a 21-8 advantage with 8:02 left in the quarter.

SC cut the lead to 21-16 on its next possession with an 11-play, 65 yard drive capped by a five yard run by A.D. Cunningham.

Wellman answered with his 1-yard run to open the lead to 29-16, before Cunningham cut the lead to 29-22 with a 3-yard run with 2 seconds to play in the third.

Spring Valley stretched its lead to 37-22 early in the fourth quarter on a three run TD run and two point conversion run by Wellman.

Things looked bad for the Black Eagles when a tipped Alexander pass was intercepted by Corey Hughart, setting the Timberwolves up at its own 43 yard line, but a Robertson fumble on the first play was scooped up by Travond Reese and returned 64-yards for a score to get SC to within 37-28 with 9:17 to play.

Wellman fumbled at the SC 15-yard line on the Timberwolves' ensuing possession, setting up a 72-yard scoring strike from Alexander to Forrest with 2:51 left. Alexander's diving, two-point conversion run trimmed the lead to 37-36 before the Timberwolves ran out the game clock.

Alexander finished 17-of-29 for 221 yards, with Forrest corralling eight catches for 178 yards.

SC, which finished with just 141 rushing yard on 26 carries, was led by Haynes' 56 yards, while Cunningham added 46.

"We've been there before in situations where we've had to fight back," said Messinger. "I'm not worried that we don't have the potential to pick it up and have a real good season, but we're still in murderer's row here with our schedule

"We've just got to get refocused, coach the kids up and get back at it next week."

South Charleston will travels to Cabell Midland next week, while Spring Valley takes on Beckley at home.


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