ONA, W.Va. - A season of firsts continued for the Cabell Midland football program in Friday night's Class AAA semifinal playoff matchup against visiting Morgantown.
Three weeks after securing the school's first ever unbeaten regular season, Midland earned its first trip to the state championship game with a hard fought 35-28 win over the Mohigans on a cold evening in Cabell County.
No. 1 Midland (13-0) will face No. 2 Martinsburg (12-1) for the title at noon next Saturday at Wheeling Island Stadium.
Morgantown ended its season at 10-3.
"It's an awesome feeling for these kids," said second year Midland Coach Luke Salmons. "When we came they were 3-7 and now they're going to the state championship.
"It's the first time in school history and it's just an awesome feeling."
Morgantown helped Midland's cause with a pair of costly turnovers and a key penalty that negated a long pass play.
Trailing 14-13 late in the first quarter, Mohigans running back Shane Commodore coughed up the football at the Knights' five yard line and the ball bounced through the end zone for a touchback.
Morgantown's most costly penalty of the evening followed when a holding penalty negated a 55-yard completion from Mark Johnson to Stone Wolfley that would have given the Mohigans a first down at the Midland 15 early in the third quarter.
And the turnover bug struck again with 1:17 left in the third, when Morgantown appeared poised to break a 21-21 tie.
Commodore darted through the line of scrimmage but had the ball stripped by Midland defenders inside the 10-yard line.
Midland's Jared Bradley recovered at the one yard line to end the threat.
"Penalties and turnovers killed us," said Morgantown Coach John Bowers. "It was a great football game. Both teams played so hard. We're real, real happy to share this night with out youngsters."
As has been the case all season, the Knights were led by senior running back David Gaydosz, who gashed the Mohigans defense for 297 yards on 22 carries, including a back breaking touchdown run late in the third.
Gaydosz, entered the contest 1,886 rushing yards, broke the school's all-time single season rushing record with his performance.
His touchdown came one play after Bradley's recovery of Commodore's fumble when he broke throw the line and scampered 96 yards down the sideline to give the Knights a 28-21 lead with 1:00 left in the quarter.
"I just kept my moving," said Gaydosz of the long run. "The whole collapsed, I just kept my legs moving and I had that cutback lane, my wide receivers blocked that corner and I just outran everybody."
Brusing senior fullback Lowell Farley added 95 yards on 25 carries for Midland, including touchdown runs of five, one and one yards, while Kasey Thomas added 47 yards, with a six yard TD run.
Morgantown was led by Commodore, who finished with 159 yards on 16 carries. Commodore took the Mohigans' first play from scrimmage and darted 60 yards untouched for a score.
Johnson completed 12-of-21 passes form 160 yards for Morgantown. Senior Blaine Stewart corralled five passes for 108 yards, including a 44-yard TD catch in the second quarter.
Midland also made its share of mistakes with interceptions on each of its first two pass attempts.
Three plays after Commodore's 60-yard jaunt, senior Alex Weidman picked off Midland's Coy Pettit and returned it 31 yards to a score.
An interception by senior Jordan Malone on Pettit's next attempt set up Stewart's touchdown grab.
Midland was particularly strong in the second half in outscoring Morgantown 21-7.
"We've been a second half team all year," said Salmons. "That's who we are. We start in February and March and we train for four quarters.
"We're going to play four quarters and that's where we've got to win. It showed all year long when we beat teams in the third and fourth quarters.
"It was just a nice team effort."
CABELL MIDLAND 35, MORGANTOWN 28
Morgantown Cabell Midland