West Mifflin defense steps up in victory over Ringgold
TribLIVE Sports Videos
A shootout was expected, but this was borderline ridiculous.
West Mifflin and Ringgold were averaging more than 40 points coming into Friday's Big 9 Conference showdown at Titan Stadium, and you could see why during the first 24 minutes — seven touchdowns on the first seven possessions and a combined 536 yards of total offense.
So, of course, it was the defense that ended up being the difference.
West Mifflin held Ringgold out of the end zone the entire second half and limited the Rams' Nico Law-powered offense to 124 yards over the final two quarters to remain unbeaten with a 42-28 victory.
“That was a very good football team we beat out there,” West Mifflin coach Ray Braszo said. “They are very talented and have a lot of weapons.”
But the Rams don't have Jimmy Wheeler.
Wheeler rushed 46 times for 365 yards and all six of West Mifflin's touchdowns. Wheeler has 1,311 rushing yards for an average of 262 yards per game.
“I was just trying to get in the end zone every time,” Wheeler said. “They were scoring, so we just had to keep scoring, too.”
West Mifflin posted 505 total yards of offense.
“We felt that we could move the ball,” Braszo said. “The thing is that we weren't sure if we could stop them.”
That's why Braszo switched from a four-down linemen defense to a 3-5-3.
It didn't work.
Ringgold scored on its first four possessions, and Law rushed for all of his 114 yards in the first half.
Braszo switched back to four down linemen in the second half, and that did the trick.
“Honestly, he didn't seem like he tried to get out of the pocket much in the second half,” Braszo said. “Our defense did a good job, and that's the reason why we won the game.”
Early on, it looked like whoever had the ball last was going to win.
After trading touchdowns for the first 11⁄2 quarters, West Mifflin got the first break of the game. Law fumbled one play after Wheeler made it 28-21 with his fourth touchdown.
It took the Titans four plays to make it a double-digit lead. Wheeler turned a third-and-short into a 23-yard touchdown run and a 35-21 lead with less than a minute left in the half.
Ringgold answered. After Brandon Thomas returned the ensuing kickoff to the 23-yard line, Law moved the Rams within a touchdown at halftime when he scored from 3 yards with less than 10 seconds left in the half.
“I think both teams just got tired out from scoring in the first half,” Braszo said.
After a scoreless third quarter, West Mifflin put the game away in the fourth with a five-play, 47-yard drive that culminated with Wheeler's 5-yard touchdown run.
“The defense did it in the second half,” Wheeler said. “The coaches told them what to do, and they executed.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- High school football notebook: Official’s decision impacts WPIAL Class AAAA title game
- WPIAL Class AAAA notebook: Pine-Richland has titles in 3 classifications
- WPIAL’s Top 10 football champions of all time
- Central Valley beats rival West Allegheny to win WPIAL Class AAA championship
- Clairton wins 11th WPIAL football championship
- Pine-Richland tops defending champ Central Catholic to capture WPIAL title
- WPIAL Class AAA notebook: Central Valley to face another merger in PIAA playoffs
- South Fayette again defeats Aliquippa to defend WPIAL Class AA title
- WPIAL Class AA notebook: South Fayette’s Brumbaugh closes in on state passing record
- WPIAL Class A notebook: Clairton climbs all-time title list
- Karns City uses bruising running game to gain comeback win over Chestnut Ridge