By Gary Fauber
Assistant Sports Editor
It wasn’t exactly a season to remember at Woodrow Wilson, but it ended with a game Chase Hancock will never forget.
In his last football game for the Flying Eagles, Hancock made his first and only start at quarterback. Playing for injured starter Brent Osborne, Hancock ran for two touchdowns, including the go-ahead score with under three minutes to play, as Woodrow beat visiting Hedgesville 26-19 Friday on a cold senior night at Van Meter Stadium.
With no shot at a third straight trip to the Class AAA playoffs, Osborne, who suffered a knee injury in last week’s loss at Oak Hill, was given the night off. Hancock stepped in and led Woodrow on two comebacks.
The senior ran for a game-high 102 yards and scored on runs of 30 and 10 yards. He also completed 11 of 19 passes for 74 yards and scored three two-point conversions.
“Before the game, I prayed that I would leave my legacy on with my friends,” Hancock said. “I hope I set a good example for these other guys. I always tell them to put God first and He will help them.”
Hancock was also a force on defense, intercepting Hedgesville quarterback James Horn three times. The last came on the drive after his 10-yard touchdown run gave the Flying Eagles a 26-19 lead with 2:05 to play.
“Oh, my goodness. Man. Some people in our locker room need to follow what kind of leadership he had tonight,” Woodrow coach John H. Lilly said. “Because that’s how you lead a football team. That’s how you put a football team on your back and will a victory. He single-handedly put the team on his back. He’s a great leader and a great kid.”
The Flying Eagles (4-6) trailed 13-8 at halftime before scoring 10 unanswered points in an ugly third quarter that got uglier in the fourth.
Hedgesville (4-6) was penalized on five straight plays and was faced with fourth-and-23 at its own 4-yard line. The Eagles’ punter took the ball and waltzed out of the back of the end zone for a safety.
Woodrow, down 13-10, got the ball at the Hedgesville 30 after a botched kickoff, and Hancock ran through the line and dragged a defender for the touchdown. Hancock also ran in the conversion as Woodrow took an 18-13 lead with 5:31 left in the third.
Hedgesville actually reclaimed the lead on Horn’s 4-yard pass to Blake Bishop with 6:09 to play, but the game was more entertaining by the twist it took on the next drive.
On first-and-15 at the Hedgesville 46, Hancock threw the ball to Joshua Creed. The play was ruled incomplete, but the Eagles thought it was a lateral.
Eli Gates picked up the ball and ran alone to the end zone, then placed the ball softly on the goal line and walked slowly back to the line of scrimmage. The officials took exception and flagged Gates for unsportsmanlike conduct — his second of the night, leading to his ejection.
The Eagles lost two players and an assistant coach to ejection in the second half.
“They don’t want you to (criticize) the referees, but in this game, they lost the game for us,” said Hedgesville coach Rich Thomaselli, a former teammate and roommate of WVU athletic director Oliver Luck with the Houston Oilers. “We didn’t lose this game. I mean, we made our mistakes, but we were the better team on the field. I don’t care. The other team across the field, they know it and we know it.”
The Eagles led 13-0 early in the second quarter after Horn’s 70-yard touchdown to Austin Graham and 50 yards to Gates.
Hedgesville led 13-8 at halftime despite six of Woodrow’s first eight drives starting in Hedgesville territory, including one drive at the 9.
“We couldn’t get out of the hole the whole first half, and we had the lead,” Thomaselli said.
“It was pretty frustrating,” Hancock said, “but Coach told us just keep working with it, and that’s what we did.”
— E-mail: email@example.com and follow on Twitter @GaryFauber
H (4-6) 7 6 0 6 — 19
WW (3-7) 0 8 10 8 — 26
H—Austin Graham 70 pass from James Horn (Jacob Ervin kick), 1:16.
H—Eli Gates 50 pass from Horn (kick failed), 10:23.
WW—Ronald Blanks 11 run (Chase Hancock run), 6:05.
WW—Safety, punter runs out of back of end zone, 5:43.
WW—Hancock 30 run (Hancock run), 5:31.
H—Blake Bishop 4 pass from Horn (run failed), 6:09.
WW—Hancock 10 run (Hancock run), 2:47.
RUSHING — H: Levi Holman 8-31, Horn 8-8. WW: Hancock 22-102, Blanks 9-40, Joshua Creed 5-12, Eddie Wilson 2-3, Troy Lilly 2-2.
PASSING — H: Horn 15-28-3-256. WW: Hancock 11-19-0-74.
RECEIVING — H: Gates 7-137, Holman 3-20, Dominic Phoebus 2-15, Bishop 2-14, Graham 1-70. WW: Blanks 4-31, Creed 4-9, Wilson 2-18, Nequan Carrington 1-16.
TAKEAWAYS — H: Graham (FR). WW: Hancock (3 INT).