West Mifflin uses ground game to cruise past Ringgold
In what was billed as a main event featuring two of the best running backs in the WPIAL, only one would come out on top when West Mifflin traveled to Ringgold on Friday.
The winner by technical knockout was West Mifflin's Jimmy Wheeler.
Wheeler, who entered the game with 882 yards rushing in four games, gained 269 yards on 30 carries to lead the undefeated Titans to a 48-20 win, outdueling the Rams' Demetrius Louis.
Wheeler now has rushed for 1,151 yards in five games.
“I've never seen a team fire off the ball and get downhill that quick,” Rams coach Matt Humbert said. “There's a lot of parallels between our football teams. They're very physical and their offensive linemen are their unsung heroes. They get off the ball so fast.
“The thing with Wheeler is that he gets vertical so quick, it's tough defending a player like that, and he's a really strong kid. He's special.”
While Wheeler was doing his duty offensively, the Titans defense proved to be the difference.
Ringgold finished the first half with only 5 yards of offense.
“The coaches did a real good job putting the game plan together,” Titans coach Ray Braszo said. “We knew that we had to keep our people where they needed to be and keep (Louis) from getting outside.”
Louis struggled throughout the night. He finished with 23 yards on 11 carries and had only 1 yard on eight carries at the half. Twenty-two of his yards came on one run against the Titans' second-team defense.
The Titans (5-0, 5-0 Big 9) outgained the Rams, 445 to 163, with 71 of the Rams' yards coming on their final drive of the game.
The teams exchanged scores in the first quarter after Ringgold quarterback Nico Law threw his first of two interceptions to the Titans' Jeff Foreman on the opening drive.
Wheeler capped a seven-play, 30-yard drive with an 11-yard touchdown run, the first of four he would score. On the ensuing kickoff, the Titans kicked the ball away from Louis and saw the Rams' Alan Pritchett return it 73 yards for a touchdown Once he hits those holes, he's hard to catch and bring down.”
Following a fumble by the Titans' Diallo Mitchell, Ringgold had a chance to take the lead, but on the second play of the drive, Foreman picked off his second pass of the night. Wheeler turned that into a 1-yard touchdown run with 7:12 remaining.
Titans quarterback Derrick Fulmore, who finished with 122 yards rushing on nine carries, added a 33-yard touchdown run before the half to give the Titans a 27-7 lead.
Mitchell fumbled the opening kickoff of the second half and the Rams got a 32-yard run from Law to pull within two touchdowns.
But the Rams (3-2, 3-2) weren't able to make adjustments to stop Wheeler, as he added another touchdown (16 yards) and Fulmore added a 35-yard score with 11:50 left to make it 41-14.
John Green added a 5-yard touchdown for the Titans.
Ringgold's final drive ended with Law barging in from 1 yard for the final touchdown.
“We had certain plays that we were running the whole game, and the holes were there,” Braszo said. “We mixed up the plays that Derrick (Fulmore) carries the ball, and that made him a factor .”
Jeremy Sellew is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2667 or firstname.lastname@example.org.