The Pocahontas County High School Warriors were 2-2 when they went up against the #4 ranked East Hardy Cougars. Despite great physical effort, moments of excellent playmaking and fitting in a lot of new faces due to injury and illness, PCHS was unable to prevail.
The Warriors faced the Cougars with the absence of sophomore O-Line/D-Line workhorse #77 Austin Morgan, due to a season ending knee injury received during the Richwood game; and senior RB #24 Logan Ryder due to illness. To compound these issues junior utility O-Lineman #78 AJ Madison had to leave midway through the second quarter due to a game ending injury. This caused a lot of re-shuffling for the Warriors requiring a couple of freshmen and sophomores to quickly step up.
The Warriors started the game, receiving the kickoff from the Cougars, and with decent field position, set up their offense. But on play one, East Hardy was able to force junior #1 Cash Keating to cough up the ball, which the Cougars recovered. East Hardy responded with a drive, topped with a 7-yard touchdown by #1 Christian Dove; point after no good. The Cougars would score once more in the first quarter on a 36-yard passing touchdown between Dove and #3 Noah Lang. Early in the second, they scored again with a connection between Dove and Lang for a 17-yard touchdown. The ground game would punch in the fourth touchdown in the first half, this time a 19 yard run by #2 Alex Miller, the Warriors blocked two of the extra point kicks.
Score 26-0 Cougars, by 8:29 in the second quarter.
When the Warriors got back on offense, AJ Madison received a blow to the back that would end the game for him. But the rest of the team seemed spurred on by this and would finish out the quarter by shutting down the Cougars and putting points on the board themselves. The Warriors managed an 11 play drive, starting at their own 28 yard line. The drive was capped off by a 13 yard touchdown run by #1 Cash Keating, redeeming himself with a very hard run for a touchdown; point after by senior #14 Jacob Davis was good.
Score 26-7 Cougars.
After the half, the Warriors were able to stiffen up some, holding East Hardy back. But the momentum was more than they could overcome, and East Hardy got two unanswered touchdowns in the second half: the first a 29-yard touchdown pass between Dove and Lang, the last a one-yard touchdown from Miller; both extra points were good. Midway through the fourth quarter the JV units took the field to finish out the night.
Final Score 40-7 Cougars.
The high flying Cougar offense and stout defense was more than the Warriors could overcome. Pocahontas County was held to 147 yards of offense while East Hardy racked up 369. Rushing for the Warriors was held to 67 yards. Leading on the ground was Cash Keating with 10 carries for 41 yards and a touchdown; senior Keaton Baldwin was held to 5 carries for 2 yards; senior Haiden Gladwell with 4 carries for 1 yard.
When the JV took the field sophomore QB Brayden Hayhurst added to the low stats of the night with 2 carries for 30 yards. Passing was more productive, with the Warriors completing 10 of 17 for 80 yards. Baldwin was 10 of 16 on the night, targeting four different receivers. Gladwell led with seven receptions for 36 yards; junior WR Frankie Burgess reeled a single catch through double coverage for 16 yards; freshman Brason Gordon, recently bumped up to starting H-Back, caught one for 15 yards; senior WR Jacob Davis also tacked on one for 13 yards. The one stat that really stung was four fumbles by the Warriors that were recovered by the Cougars.
The Warriors have a lot of work to do. The team is showing promise in the passing game and, hopefully, with the development of new faces on the offensive line and H-Back and the return of Logan Ryder, the run game will revamp. Couple this with cleaning up things like ball security, and there is a very real chance the Warriors will make some noise in the back half of their season.
They are set to host the Greenbrier West Cavaliers on October 9.