By Gaylen Duskey

Playing perhaps the worst third quarter in Calhoun High School football history the Red Devils frittered away the lead and left their playoff hopes in a tenuous condition.

In the third quarter Wirt scored 21 points and had 12 first downs. Calhoun, on the other hand, ran four plays; fumbled twice and kept two Wirt drives alive with penalties.

The result was Wirt County scored 21 points and roared from behind to take the lead en route to a 31-21 victory Friday night over visiting Calhoun, seriously jeopardizing the Red Devils' playoff hopes.

The third, which was reminiscent but much worse than the meltdown against Roane County last week, showed the Tigers at their best and Calhoun at its worst.

The Red Devils took a quick 7-0 lead when Jeff Goodrich scored on a 22-yard run, which was set up by Randy Fluharty's 60-yard run with the opening kickoff.

Calhoun went ahead by two touchdowns when Goodrich scored again in the second quarter, this time on a three-yard run.

But as good as Calhoun looked in the first half was as bad as they looked in the third quarter.

First the Tigers took the opening kickoff and marched down the field behind the running of quarterback Josh Valentine and a couple of Calhoun penalties that kept the drive alive.

Valentine's six-yard run gave Wirt its first points of the game, cutting the Calhoun lead to 14-7.

The Tigers got the ball back on the ensuing kickoff - shades of déjà vu from the Roane County game last week - when the Red Devils fumbled. The Tigers quickly capitalized with a 30-yard strike from Valentine to Chase Mills. It took only 12 seconds to score the second touchdown.

The Tigers grabbed the lead as the third quarter was winding down with a short touchdown run following a short drive. The drive started with a Calhoun fumble and was kept alive by Red Devil penalties.

Wirt scored next on a 34-yard Alex Wilson field goal, the Tigers' 24th straight point.

The Red Devils finally routed their shift and scored when Zach Moore hauled in a 29-yard pass from Matt Houchin.

But that was the high point of the Red Devils' rally.

Wirt got the ball back and scored on a six-yard run by Valentine at the 3:29 mark of the fourth quarter.

A last gasp Calhoun drive died with eight seconds remaining to play.

For all the bad things Calhoun did - three lost fumbles; 12 penalties for 115 yards and woeful tackling on the quarterback draw play run by the Tigers - there were still some good things.

They included:

Zach Moore further establishing himself as the top receiver in the LKC with seven catches for 95 yards and a touchdown.

Jeff Goodrich running for two touchdowns and 90 yards not counting an 85-yard kickoff return for a touchdown that was nullified by a penalty at the Wirt 10.

The individual defensive brilliance of Zack Yeager and Steven Wagoner.

The courage of several players playing through injuries including twisted knees, injured hands and at least one broken bone.

For Calhoun, now 5-3, the playoffs, which seemed a certainty a couple of weeks ago are looking like it may take winning out - beating Braxton and St. Marys - to achieve.

Calhoun begins its playoff stretch drive with its final home game of the year Friday night against winless Braxton.

Wirt, now 5-4, is open next week before closing out its season against Wahama.

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