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Wheeler rushes for 342 yards, 3 TDs in West Mifflin win

| Friday, Sept. 7, 2012, 10:49 p.m.
West Mifflin quarterback Derrick Fulmore (2) evades defenders on his way to a first-quarter touchdown Friday evening against Belle Vernon. Ronald Vezzani Jr. | for the Tribune-Review
West Mifflin running back James Wheeler (5) slips past a Belle Vernon defender Friday evening. Ronald Vezzani Jr. | For the Daily News

Pitt coach Paul Chryst and offensive coordinator Joe Rudolph were on the sidelines at Jim Weir Stadium to get a close look at Belle Vernon lineman Dorian Johnson.

Instead, they got an eye-opening dose of Jimmy Wheeler and the 26 power.

In his second varsity start, Wheeler rushed for 342 yards, mostly through the heart of the Belle Vernon defense, and scored on touchdown runs of 33, 75 and 69 yards, as West Mifflin (2-0, 2-0) stayed perfect with a 48-14 win over Belle Vernon (1-1, 1-1).

“It was the 26 power, and it was working,” Wheeler said.

And if West Mifflin coach Ray Braszo is known for one thing, it's that he will continue to call the same play if it works.

“We will do it until they stop us,” Braszo said. “That's basically what we were doing. It was unbelievable that he kept coming out of there.”

Behind the blocking of Shawn Devey, Tyler Bornak, James Keys, Corey Samudosky, James Popa and Marcus Martin, the Titans rolled up 528 yards on the ground.

“My line was opening up holes like crazy,” Wheeler said. “I got to give a shout out to my line.”

It took Wheeler three plays to show his speed, power and elusiveness.

He powered for 13 yards on his first carry; juked a handful of Belle Vernon defenders on his next carry of 27 yards; then turned on the speed for his third carry that went for a 33-yard touchdown run an early 7-0 lead.

On the next drive, Wheeler, one of the top sprinters in the WPIAL, broke off runs of 16, 5, 8, 4, and 2 yards before turning over to Derrick Fulmore (96 yards rushing), who made a half dozen Leopards miss on his way to a 14-0 lead.

Belle Vernon's quick-strike offense kept it in the game, as Travis Snyder connected with Adam Ferita from 42 and 21 yards within a span of 70 seconds before halftime. West Mifflin led 21-14 at the break.

“We knew they were a good team, but we felt like we were the better team,” Wheeler said.

Wheeler went 75 yards for a touchdown to make it 28-14 in the third quarter and 69 yards the next time he touched the ball to give West Mifflin a 34-14 lead and the rout was on.

Mark Kaboly is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at mkaboly@tribweb.com

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