Dave Morrison column

NEW RICHMOND – In terms of season-saving plays, it doesn’t come much better than McQuade Canada’s momentum-changing interception in Friday’s 40-27 victory over Liberty.

The Warriors were down 27-20 and Liberty was mounting another third-quarter drive when Canada picked off his sixth pass of the season.

The momentum turned and Wyoming East ran off the final 20 points of the game.

A playoff-clinching win, and a trip to Oak Glen in the northern panhandle, was saved.

As far as the real season-saving victory – the top play of the year, – you have to go back to Week 3 of the Wyoming East season and a trip to another Oak – Oak Hill.

Last second victories don’t happen all the time in high school and certainly not like the Warriors 44-39 victory over the Red Devils.

You know the play, quarterback Seth Ross with the looping pass to Jake Bishop as time expired.

If the Warriors don’t win that game, Friday night’s playoff-clinching victory wasn’t even possible.

If they lose to Oak Hill, a season most certainly have been on the brink.

Canada’s interception came with over a quarter left to play. The Ross to Bishop hookup came with time running out.

They did it before, against Westside when the two were sophomores,  but Bishop said the one at Oak Hill meant more because they were playing for something this year. They certainly were.

Let’s reset the scenario at John P. Duda Stadium in Oak Hill. There were 16.4 seconds left when time was called and the officials correctly added another two seconds when the scoreboard ran long when play stopped.

It was a rather important addition.

During the timeout coach Larry Thompson, showing his coaching chops, called two plays if the next call, a run to the left where Caleb Bower had gashed the Red Devils in the second half, didn’t work.

That was key.

“I told Caleb if he couldn’t turn the corner get out of bounds, and Oak Hill played it well,” Thompson said. “They stretched him out and ran him back inside and got the tackle for a loss. I called two plays going out of that timeout and I told them we were going to run the toss and if that didn’t work and we don’t get where we need to we need to hurry up and get back on the ball. Bishop is one of those kids who if the ball goes up nine times out of 10 he’s going to make that play.”

First things first.

After the run by Bower was shut down Ross made a smart play, a senior play. With the football laying on the ground and time ticking off, Ross ran to the ball and picked it up, and flipped  it to the official for the spot.

“That’s just a senior being a mature leader and understanding the situation and understanding what needed to be done,” Thompson said. “We got up a little lackadaisical. Seth got on top of things.He picked that ball up, got it to the ref and then got everybody set and snapped the ball with two seconds left.”

And time was ticking off, 4,3,2 …

And that illustrates the key point and how key that addition to the clock was.

Had it been 2, 1, 0  well, you can do the math and who knows if they get set, a penalty is called and the game is over.

Oak Hill coach Jason Blankenship said as much.

“Great play on their part,” he said. “I mean, how many teams are even going to be able to get set in that situation.”

Ross took the snap and knew he had one-on-one coverage on Jake Bishop. Turns out the 6-4 Bishop was being covered by 5-9 freshman Ethan Vargo-Thomas. Bishop jumped into the air, caught the pass and with it, a season was saved.

You can’t tell Wyoming East a season can’t be saved in September and that play certainly saved the season for the Warriors.