Williams boots home game-winning field goal as times expires

WEIRTON – Collin Williams won’t soon forget his first varsity football game. Neither will his Oak Glen teammates.

The freshman nailed a 22-yard field goal as time expired Saturday giving the Golden Bears a thrilling 17-14 victory over Edison in game one of The Clash at the Carey.

“I had faith in him,” said Oak Glen coach Ian Whittington. “I’ve seen him hit everything inside the 20. I thought that him being a freshman with not much football experience that this (the field goal attempt) might not weigh on him as much as you would think.

“An older kid might go holy cow, everything is on the line here. But this is a freshman and it was his first time.

I thought, hey he can do it.”

Williams’ boot capped a whirlwind finish at steamy Jimmy Carey Stadium which saw both teams threaten and both commit a costly turnover. The victory was Oak Glen’s first since late in the 2012 season.

The game-winning march began at the Golden Bear 25 after Issac Rosohac recovered an Edison fumble with 49 ticks remaining.

Senior quarterback Chase Hartley, making his first appearance since suffering a season-ending injury in the 2013 Edison game, hit Alec Swiger with a swing pass on first down. The senior running back ran over several Wildcat defenders on his way to a 30-yard gain.

Hartley then found senior wide receiver Micah Swiger, who also missed considerable playing time last year with injuries, for gains of 22 and eight. After off-setting penalties, A. Swiger traveled up the gut for 11 and Whittington called his young placekicker.

His first attempt was cut short by an Edison timeout. On the next snap, he calmly split the uprights.

“It feels amazing,” Whittington stated when asked about the win. “It feels like 1,000 pounds have been lifted off my shoulders. I’m going to enjoy this one with my boys and my family.”

Edison tied the score with 2:54 left on a powerful three-yard run by senior Ethan Shannon. He hit the middle of the line and fought his way into the end zone. Cody Kosegi nailed the point from placement.

On Oak Glen’s next possession, a Hartley passed was picked off by Wildcat Carter Andreozzi and Edison was in business with a first down at its 47. Shannon ran for a yard and senior quarterback Collin Skeeles hit Josh Oaks for five. Skeeles then found Robert Daley for 26 and a first down at the Golden Bear 21. Following an incompletion, Edison was victimized by the fumble.

Whittington noted he tells his players “every day that turnovers are the difference in ball games. I told them if we can force a turnover, it will show at the end. Turnovers made a difference in this game.”

Both teams had solid drives on their opening possessions. Edison, which topped Oak Glen 33-14 in last season’s opener, moved from its own 32 to the Oak Glen 20 before the drive stall. Golden Bear Noah Mills delivered a huge tackle on fourth and seven to force the turnover on downs.

Whittington’s crew came right back with a nice march of its own before stalling out. The possession featured a nifty 25-year scramble by Hartley for a first down.

Derrick Stickles’ Wildcats found pay dirt on the fourth play of the second quarter. The score, a one-yard plunge by E. Shannon, captured a 52-yard drive. Skeeles delivered two key completions to keep the march going.

Oak Glen tied things up later in the period thanks to a 39-yard Hartley to M. Swiger pass. That scoring march covered 65 yards.

The Golden Bears forced an Edison punt on the next series. M. Swiger fielded the ball and his own 18, broke free, turned on the jets and sprinted 82 yards for the go-ahead score.

A Hartley interception in the end zone gave Oak Glen one last scoring chance before the intermission. The Gold Bears moved from their own 20 to the Wildcat15. Hartley completed four passes to Cyle Perez, good for 48 stripes. Williams, however, was unable to connect on a field goal try.

During the opening half, Edison’s E. Shannon ran for 131 yards. He finished with 177.

“We made an adjustment at halftime,” Whittington explained. “It took us a while to realize where it (the counter play featuring E. Shannon) was hitting. We made an adjustment to bring a different guy down into the box.”

The Wildcats appeared ready to tie the score early in the final frame, moving the ball from their own 24 to the Oak Glen 15. Another fumble (this one recovered by Patrick Arneault), however, ended the threat.

“The kids fought hard,” Stickles said. “We had a lot of cramps, a few injuries and some young kids who had to step up and play football. And I thought they did a really good job.

“Unfortunately, there has to be a winner and there has to be a loser. Our kids fought the entire game. We were down seven points most the game. We scored that last touchdown to tie it up then we have that fumble. Turnovers and conditioning played a significant role in this game.”

Oak Glen finished with 86 rushing yards and 273 through the air. Hartley connected on 19 of 32 attempts. Perez caught nine balls for 79 and M. Swiger five for 77.

“We play a completely different game with Hartley on the field,” Whittington noted. “He can run, throw and make checks. He can do it all. Not having him last year hurt. He’s pretty much our general on offense.

“And you can see what happens when Micah (Swiger) is on the field. The kid can score from anywhere. He makes plays all over the field. He’s one of the best athletes we have seen for a long time.”

Shannon finished with 177 of Edison’s 213 rushing stripes. Skeeles, making his first varsity start at quarterback, threw for 134.

“What a great kid to have on your team,” Stickles said about Shannon.

The Edison said called Skeeles “a good football player. He did well. He made some mistakes but you can’t expect them to be mistake free. What I liked was that after mistakes, he was able to keep his head and continue to play football. He is maturing.”

Oak Glen will host Beaver Local Friday while Edison visits Carrollton.

“I told our kids the difference between successful and unsuccessful people is successful people get knocked down and get back up,” Stickles pointed out. “That is what we are going to do. We got knocked down, we lost a heartbreaker but I know they will show up on Monday ready to work. We’ll just on and try to get better.”