Following a stellar win against Tucker County in week one, the Pocahontas County High School Warriors had a rough night against the Moorefield Yellowjackets Friday night.
To say the Warriors got stung by the Yellowjackets is a pun, but an apt description of the feeling following the 8-9 loss. The game was a defensive struggle, and the Warriors showed a lot of resilience to the resurgent Yellowjackets – exhibiting much needed strength in the air-game, though the ground game faced a challenge in a very large and aggressive run-stop defense. Pocahontas showed stoutness on defense, claiming a safety and largely holding off Moorefield’s offense most of the night. It came down to a couple of plays and gut wrenching final minute of play.
The first quarter was a defensive slug fest as the two teams pummeled each other near mid-field. Early in the second quarter Junior #10 Keaton Baldwin’s punt was downed on the Moorefield one-yard line by Senior #83 Brody Buzzard to set the Warriors up in prime position. The Yellowjackets botched an exchange in the end zone as the Warrior defensive front surged forward and the ball rolled out the back of the end zone for a safety.
Warriors up 2-0
Late in the second quarter, the Warrior offense set to stall out was saved by a fake punt as Baldwin rolled out for an apparent rugby punt and connected with Buzzard for 16-yard pass to acquire a new set of downs. Starting anew from the Moorefield 45, Baldwin added another highlight by punching in a six-yard run for the only Warrior touchdown on the night. However, the point-after was muffed, and Buzzard, trying to scramble and make something out of nothing, was brought down to hold the Warriors to just the touchdown.
Score at halftime, 8-0 Warriors.
The second half was more of the defensive struggle exhibited in the first quarter, though the Warriors showed competence in the air, alleviating pressure on the run game – finding success on deep and shallow passing routes, a double reverse pass and a successful screen. But mistakes and penalties marred an otherwise excellent night for the PCHS offense, and a rigid defensive game by both teams.
Moorefield attempted a 49-yard field goal part way through the third quarter by outstanding kicker #8 Atikilt Tamiru. He dead centered the left upright for a near miss (a mistake he would not repeat later). However, a few plays later with 2:45 left in the third quarter, the Yellowjackets finally found a seam and #20 Dequavious Kornegay charged up the field for a 40-yard touchdown. The Warrior defense rallied and would prevent #4 Brent Moran from getting the two-point conversion, holding the Yellow- jackets to a touchdown.
Score 8-6, Warriors.
The following quarter saw the Warriors largely hold their own, driving deep into Yellowjacket territory only to go four-and-out inside the 10 yard line.
The muffed snap on the earlier extra point made a field goal somewhat dicey. The Warriors then stopped the Yellowjacket drive in similar fashion with a turnover on downs with under three minutes to go.
PCHS rallied to drive and secure a first down that would have allowed the Warriors to kneel and finish the game, but Moorefield’s defense was able to strip the ball and recover the fumble. They drove it down the field and set up their fieldgoal kicker Tamiru with a dead center shot from 45 yards out. He drove the field goal through the uprights as time ran out on the game.
Final score 8-9, Yellowjackets.
Offensive and defensive lineman AJ Madison succinctly summed up the night, “The game was heartbreaking.”
The Warriors had an excellent game in most regards, barring a few mishaps. On the night they had 277 yards of total offense to Moorefield’s 168.
PCHS was able to go to the air in a way they haven’t done in more than a year with 158 yards passing on six of 11 attempts, including a well-run screen and a double reverse pass and held Moorefield to a mere 11 yards passing. They were able to move the ball 116 yards on the ground against a large and aggressive defensive front, but did allow 157 yards of rushing against them.
The stake to the chest was the two fumbles by PCHS, both recovered by MHS.
Leaders on the night in passing for the Warriors were Keaton Baldwin, who went 3/3 for 91 yards (including one fake punt pass), Senior #88 Dalton Hendrick, who threw the ball on the double reverse pass for a 40-yard reception, and Senior #6 Dillon Shinaberry, who com- pleted 2/6 for 28 yards.
Receiving was led by Sophomore #5 Cage Burdette who caught three for 115 yards, Baldwin who caught two for 28 yards and Buzzard who caught one for 16 yards.
Rushing leaders were Shinaberry with 22 carries for 66 yards and Baldwin with 16 carries for 60 yards and the lone touchdown.
The Warriors will rebuild and have to rally to face one of their greatest rivals in the form of the other PCHS – the Pendleton County Wildcats who will visit Pocahontas County Friday, September 13.
Kick-off at 7 p.m.
Please join us for more Warrior Football.