Wolfpack ekes out victory over Blue Tornado on game’s final play

by Kelley Pearson, Sports Editor

RICHLANDS — Unlike the regular season blowout, last Friday’s Region 2D quarterfinal playoff game between Ridgeview and Richlands came down to the wire. Actually, to the very last second, as Ryan O’Quinn hit Brandon Beavers in the end zone for a 29-28 victory as time expired.

“We knew they were going to bracket me based off our last game,” Beavers said. “We all agreed that I was going to take the distraction and free up the other receivers. It worked a lot tonight.”

Five different receivers saw catches as Beavers had six for 68 yards, Cannon Hill had six for 129 yards and a score, Koda Counts had five for 90 yards, Ian Hartsock had three catches and Gabe Hackney had one catch for 34 yards.

Both teams played top-notch football on the night, making it a game to remember for both sides. Wolfpack head coach Todd Tiller couldn’t be prouder of his team as they earned his first regional playoff win in his second year as head coach.

“These guys came in and battled. We fought through adversity and scored at the end. What an absolute great job for every coach and player involved,” Tiller said.

The last five minutes of the game saw multiple lead changes. With right at 3:30 remaining in the game, Ryan O’Quinn hit Koda Counts on fourth down for what looked like a touchdown pass on the goal line. The referees ruled it a reception, but said he fell out of the end zone. The Wolfpack turned the ball over on downs.

Richlands took over inside their own one-yard line and it only took two plays for the Ridgeview to earn a safety to make the score 22-17 in favor of the Blues at 2:38 to go.

On the ensuing drive, O’Quinn hit Beavers for his first touchdown of the night in the back of the end zone to take the lead back 23-22. The two-point conversion was no good.

With 1:20 to go, Richlands’ Sage Webb took the kick off return 90 yards for a gut-punch touchdown. The Blues could not convert on a two-point conversion, but held a 28-23 lead. The Wolfpack took the ball on their own 20-yard line with just over one minute to go and all of their timeouts in hand.

O’Quinn showed poise during the winning drive, marching his team 80-yards down the field for the game-winner to Beavers in the end zone.

“We came in here on a mission,” O’Quinn said. “They’ve obviously improved. It was a great game. That’s a nail-biter, for sure. Our defense really stepped up tonight and our receivers played great.”

Senior Caden Gibson has been a captain on the line all season for the ‘Pack.

“That freshman (O’Quinn)…gosh. He came through big for us tonight,” Gibson said. “I told him just to trust us on the line. We were going to keep that pocket for him. We all did great picking up those blocks and giving him the time he needed.”

Next up, the Wolfpack will face off against Central at Warrior Field Friday at 7 p.m. The ‘Pack took a 12-0 regular season victory, but Tiller knows his team will have to be in tip-top shape if they want to play for the regional crown.

“They (Central) are very tough and they do a great job over there. We have to stay up in practice and we have to play our “A” game if we want to keep going,” Tiller said.