PARKERSBURG - Braydn Beals suffers from a condition that causes his heart to periodically beat at over 200 beats-per-minute.
So the prospect of leading a game-winning, fourth-quarter drive hardly gets his heart pumping.
The senior signal caller engineered a 10-play, 65 yard drive late in the final frame to help Class 2A No. 1 West Marshall past Class 1A No. 4 Aplington-Parkersburg, 14-7, Friday night at Ed Thomas Field.
T-R PHOTO BY TRAVIS HINES
West Marshall offensive lineman Dustin Aiken celebrates as the clock winds down to finish off the Class 2A No. 1 Trojans’ 14-7 win over Class 1A No. 4 Aplington-Parkersburg on Friday night at Ed Thomas Field in Parkersburg.
The Trojans (2-0) struggled with penalties, miscues and turnovers a week after thrashing then-Class A No. 1 Madrid, 58-0, and needed their defense to hold steady while the offense righted itself late.
West Marshall also was battling fatigue and cramping that was clearly evident late as the Trojans let A-P (1-1) knot the game at 7-all with an 80-yard drive that lasted 1 minutes, 26 seconds.
But then Beals and Co. responded with an impressive, gutsy final drive that was capped on a 12-yard TD run by Dalton Ferch with 2:30 to play.
West Marshall 14, Aplington-Parkersburg 7
WM - Dalton Kelly 13 pass from Braydn Beals (Ron Wilkey kick), 1:02.
A-P - Spencer Cooper 5 run (Brandon Abbas kick), 6:48.
WM - Dalton Ferch 12 run (Gustavo Rodriguez kick), 2:30.
RUSHING - WM: Da.Ferch 20-113, Beals 14-29, Tanner Stalzer 6-26, Duncan Ferch 1-16, Tysen Streeter 3-26, Team 1-(minus 1); A-P: Brady Frey 11-72, Cooper 7-33, Jason Grill 13-72, Brandon Simkins 7-72, Curry Hoff 9-15, Gabe Nolte 2-1, Nick Oldenburger 1-1, Team 2-20.
PASSING - WM: Beals 4-7-80-0; A-P: Cooper 0-2-0-1.
RECEIVING - WM: Du.Ferch 3-35, Streeter 1-32, Kelley 1-13; A-P: None.
West Marshall defensive back Cody Gadbaw came up with an interception on A-P's last-gasp drive to put the game on ice.
"The guys really came together, they really just focused and it was great," said Beals, who finished with 29 yards rushing while going 4-for-7 with 80 yards and a touchdown through the air.
"After the cramps, everyone was tired and we all knew it, but everyone just dug down deep and it was great to see the guys come together and put together a drive like that."
That game-winning drive was in jeopardy early as the Trojans faced 3rd-and-five two plays into the possession, but Beals found Duncan Ferch on a slant for 10-yards to move the chains.
"Duncan ran a great route, the line did a great job. It was an easy throw," said Beals.
The Trojans didn't face another third down on the drive as their running game powered down the field, ending on Dalton Ferch's blast into the end zone.
Things weren't as easy for the Trojans throughout most of the contest as eight penalties for 85 yards and two turnovers stunted most of their chances.
"We probably could have scored four, five more times except we shot ourselves in the foot all night long," said West Marshall head coach Ken Winkler. "We had fumbled snaps, we had bad snaps, we had penalties, we had fumbles.
"We had a lot of oppoprtunities, we just seemed to self-destruct all night long."
Those lost opporunties looked like they would haunt the Trojans when the Falcons raced 80 yards down the field on just five plays (all rushes) to net their first touchdown of the game at the 6:48 mark of the fourth quarter.
A-P then lined up for a potential game-winning 2-point conversion, but a presnap penalty moved the Falcons back to the 8-yard line, where they elected to kick the PAT.
West Marshall's defense negated A-P's running game and its own offense's early ineffectiveness by stiffening in the red zone, keeping A-P off the board in the first half despite the Falcons advancing inside West Marshall's 10-yard line twice before halftime.
The Trojan offense, on the other hand, hamstrung itself in the first half with numerous fumbled and off-target snaps, penalties and a turnover at midfield.
They were also without their quarterback late in the second quarter after his condition, arithmic tachycardia, caused his heartbeat to race towards 210 beats-per-minute.
The average heartbeat during exercise is around 150 bpm.
"It just exhausts me. It usually only lasts a few minutes, but tonight it lasted about 10 minutes. Once it's done, I'm just tired and can usually come back in," said Beals.
"I haven't had an outbreak like that in six, seven months, so I was really surprised it happened."
And on that last drive, with the pressure up and the clock winding down?
"It was up there, but it wasn't anything bad," Beals laughed. "It was great, it was a lot of fun."
A-P had 286 yards rushing on the night, getting 72 apiece from Jason Grill, Brandon Simlins and Brady Frey, but the Falcons did not complete a pass.
West Marshall's all-state running back Dalton Ferch was kept in check for most of the night, but still managed to tally 113 yards on 20 carries as the Trojans erased the memories from last year's 35-6 loss to A-P.
Duncan Ferch had three catches for 35 yards while Dalton Kelley made a touchdown catch in the first quarter on third-and-goal from the 13-yard line to get West Marshall on the board in a game rife with inconsitencies for Class 2A's top-ranked squad.
"It was one of those games, I was proud of our kids at the end," said Winkler, "but we just made way too many mistakes to keep momentum."
The Trojans will now begin their defense of the District 7 title when they host Gilbert next week in State Center.