Wheeler's 6 touchdowns lead West Mifflin past Elizabeth Forward
TribLIVE Sports Videos
Only Jimmy Wheeler could call this a below-average night.
West Mifflin's star senior rushed 30 times for 257 yards and six touchdowns in Thursday night's 40-16 victory over Big Nine host Elizabeth Forward in a game delayed nearly two hours by lightning.
His touchdowns covered 10, 15, 3, 50, 7 and 34 yards.
Wheeler scored three times in the third quarter when West Mifflin turned the score lopsided. Two came just 24 seconds apart.
Well, only if you consider that Wheeler entered averaging 262 yards. The WPIAL's rushing leader has been just that good. Wheeler's on pace to challenge the WPIAL's regular-season rushing mark of 2,149 set by Steel Valley's Delrece Williams in 2010. Wheeler has 1,569.
This was the second straight game that Wheeler scored six touchdowns.
“This feels real special,” said Wheeler, who dismissed the record chase. “I just want to take my team back to Heinz (Field) and win.”
The victory keeps No. 3-ranked West Mifflin (6-0, 6-0) undefeated and atop the conference standings, just ahead of No. 2 Thomas Jefferson (5-0, 4-0). The rivals won't meet until Week 9 at West Mifflin.
No. 6 Elizabeth Forward (4-2, 4-2) has now lost decisively to both West Mifflin and Thomas Jefferson (42-0 in Week 2), but the Warriors remain solidly in the playoff hunt. Five teams from the conference qualify.
Elizabeth Forward's JaQuan Davidson rushed for 169 yards, including a 74-yard touchdown in the fourth, but also threw three interceptions. Earlier Thursday, the senior committed to Pitt.
“We came out pretty good, but everything dropped down after the (lightning) delay,” Davidson said. “I wish that had never happened because we had momentum. After the crowd left, (our energy) dropped.”
Lightning halted play with 9:50 left in the second quarter. West Mifflin was leading, 7-0. The teams took shelter for an hour and 50 minutes. Each time lightning flashed, 30 minutes was added to their wait.
“I was in here kind of mad,” Wheeler said, “asking why can't we start this? I was pumped.”
Had the lighting lasted much longer, the game would have been postponed until Friday.
“You have to give (our players) a lot of credit,” West Mifflin coach Ray Braszo said. “You always worry about (a delay). You even worry about halftime if you had a good first half. But they wanted to play tonight.”
After a scoreless first quarter, Wheeler scored twice in the second quarter. His scores were separated by the lightning delay.
Wheeler's first was a 10-yarder just 53 seconds into the quarter. His second, a 15-yarder with 5:01 left, gave West Mifflin a 14-3 halftime lead. EF's only first-half points were a 20-yard field goal by Adam Stitt.
Elizabeth Forward twice had the football inside West Mifflin's 10-yard line but couldn't score. The first chance ended one yard short of the goal line on fourth down. Halftime halted the second with EF at the 6.
“The defense had some great stops,” Braszo said. “With the weapons they have, I have to give my kids a lot of credit.”
A 37-yard touchdown catch by Matt Bernadowski in the third quarter pulled EF to within four points. The catch at 6:41 cut West Mifflin's lead to 14-10.
But Wheeler responded with three quick touchdowns in less than three minutes to give West Mifflin a 34-10 lead entering the fourth. His weaving 50-yarder was the most impressive.
Wheeler's sixth touchdown, a 34-yarder, came in the fourth. For Wheeler, these once-in-a-lifetime games for many have become almost routine.
“Lately, it seems like it,” Braszo said. “You don't expect him to do it every week, but so far he has.”
Chris Harlan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at email@example.com or via Twitter @CHarlan_Trib.
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.
- Gorman: Quitting not the answer
- The Leader: Big game attracts no TV respect
- Knoch’s stellar ‘D’ sets tone in 6th straight shutout
- HS highlight reel: Peters, USC rivalry resumes Thursday
- Monz resigns as Carlynton football coach
- Meyers Player of the Week
- Plum football team hopes to bounce back against Altoona
- Greensburg Salem starts slow in loss to Hollidaysburg
- Senior Brown carries East Allegheny to victory over Keystone Oaks
- Monessen lights up scoreboard in rout of Serra Catholic
- Slow-starting Belle Vernon Area rolls to win over Uniontown