Local Sports, Sports, University

Coleman hits walk-off winner as Hawks knock off Patriots, 17-14

WHEELING — John Coleman booted a 35-yard field goal as time expired Friday night to hand University High a walk-off 17-14 victory against Wheeling Park inside Wheeling Island Stadium.

As is custom for most kickers, Coleman never saw it.

“If you look up, sometimes you’ll pull the ball,” said Coleman, who also doubles as a receiver that came up with six big receptions for 84 yards. “I just kept my head down. It felt good. Everything felt good. I just waited for my teammates’ reaction to know what happened.”

The reaction was as expected — they piled on Coleman — but what happened to set up the kick was anything but normal. Instead, it was a storybook drive by the Hawks (2-2) and quarterback Luke Hudson that won’t be forgotten anytime soon.

“Nobody gave us a chance to win this game, but I can’t say enough about the effort our kids gave,” UHS head coach John Kelley said. “We just kept hanging around, and it came down to that last drive. That last drive was just our will to win.”

In a 14-14 game, UHS took over on its own 20 with under four minutes remaining but got knocked back inside its own 10 after two penalties. The situation looked bleak when UHS faced a third-and-18, but Hudson somehow found freshman Kaleil Lewis open in the middle of the field for a first down.

“That’s actually a play we could run a lot more,” said Hudson, who completed 18 of 27 for 239 yards passing and a TD. “They were doubling down on Ethan (Jackson) on the outside and Kaleil had the open space in the middle. It really wasn’t my best throw. I call it a hospital ball, so I owe him one for coming down with that one.”

Now there was just 34 seconds left and Coleman’s 14-yard catch helped get the Hawks to the Wheeling Park 35, which was when Hudson pulled off a little magic.

He was scrambling for his life, first from a defender who had him cold after rushing up the middle, and then outrunning another defender coming off the end.

“We were just very fortunate right there,” Kelley said. “That’s one of those moments that looks bad from the start, but Luke just kept things alive.”

Hudson scrambled backward, forwards and sideways before darting to his left. By the time he reached the UHS sideline, Hudson threw across his body and across the field to a wide-open Brock Kehler, who went up in the air and came down with the catch at the Wheeling Park 8-yard line.

The side note to it all, Kehler, a star linebacker who has played limited offense this season, mostly as a lead blocker, wasn’t supposed to be there.

“Before the play, I told him he was my check-down,” Hudson said.

A check-down receiver is not 27 yards downfield.

“That’s the thing, I don’t know if he knows what a check-down is,” Hudson continued. “I guess on that play, a check-down is run 20 yards down the field and get open.”

UHS got hit with a holding call that set the ball back to the Park 18 and then UHS called timeout with four seconds left. Coleman came on, didn’t melt under the pressure when Wheeling Park (2-1) called timeout to ice him, and then simply nailed a 35-yarder to win the game.

“I just stayed calm the whole time,” Coleman said. “I had a job to do. We worked so hard to get back into the game. That’s my first game-winner, so that was pretty cool.”

University 17, Wheeling Park 14
University 0 0 7 10 — 17
Wheeling Park 7 0 7 0 — 14

WP–Mykel Davis 39 pass from Aiden Davis (AJ Seals kick)
UHS–Kaleil Lewis 32 pass from Luke Hudson (John Coleman kick)
WP–Davis 51 pass from Davis (Seals kick)
UHS–Jack Byrer 5 run (Coleman kick)
UHS–Coleman 35 field goal

RUSHING: University–Hudson 5-21, Melique Lewis 11-34, Brock Kehler 3-11, Byrer 2-8 TD, Ethan Jakson 1-0. Wheeling Park–Amare Johnson 11-41, Zac Lydick 5-45, Aiden Davis 7-(-6).
PASSING: University–Hudson 18-27 239 TD. Wheeling Park–Aiden Davis 16-21 244 2 TD.
RECEIVING: University–Jackson 6-61, Coleman 6-84, Kaleil Lewis 2-51 TD, James Fortney-Garbart 2-15, Kehler 1-27, Hudson 1-1. Wheeling Park–Mykel Davis 5-125 2 TD, Keohn Stephens 3-49, Brennan Wack 4-26, Johnson 3-27, Jameson Maynard 1-17.