Homecoming 2021 – after two years of chaos, a return to traditions and something close to normalcy was great – the pomp and ceremony of this wonderful night complete with the band, cheerleaders, the tribe raising a ruckus and the smell of popcorn. Couple that with a nerve-racking, down-to-the-wire game against the neighboring Pendleton County Wildcats, and it makes for a great day.
The Pocahontas County High School Warriors faced off with a stolid opponent who put up a veritable dog fight in the game. The Warriors received the kickoff but, striking early, the Wildcats held the Warriors off on their first series and were forced to punt. Play one of the Wildcat offense was a double pass that caught the Warrior Corner out of position and led to a quick score; point after was good.
Score 7-0 Wildcats.
The Warriors would regroup and rebound, and to the credit of the defense the Wildcats would not score again. The Warriors first attempted to strike back with a field goal. Sophomore #80 Clayton Burns was called on for a 45-yard attempt. Burns had plenty of distance, but was just wide left. The Wildcats would take over on downs and drive for 15 plays into Warrior territory. The Wildcats then attempted a long throw to the corner, but Senior Safety #4 Frankie Burgess shut down the drive with an interception. Later in the second quarter, the Warriors pieced together an 11-play drive capped off by Junior Quarterback #6 Braedan Hayhurst, who scampered for a six yard touchdown run; point after kick was missed.
Score 7-6 Wildcats.
The Warriors would round out the first half going for the lead, with three seconds left. Hayhurst connected with Burgess from 30 yards out for a last second touchdown. The Warrior two point conversion attempt was no good.
Score at halftime 12-7 Warriors.
The second half was a defensive slug fest as both teams battered each other up and down the field. The Warriors had a long drive, and Hayhurst was marked down inside the one-yard line (a questionable call) followed by a failed field goal, due to a muffed snap. Following the turnover on downs, the tension racked up. The Wildcats managed a short drive, followed by a punt. The Warriors then went four and out in their own territory.
In the last minutes of the game the Warriors faced a determined Pendleton County that managed to stay alive until the end of the game. The Wildcats racking up a 15-play drive from their own territory, the Warriors stacked up and held them off, play after play, feeling like it was lasting forever. In the final 15 seconds of the game, the Wildcat QB scrambled on a broken play and found the end zone as time ran out. However, the Wildcats had a block in the back during the play that called them back. In accepting the call, the Warriors gave the Wildcats a final untimed down to try and salvage the game. On a Hail-Mary the Wildcats came close, but came up against the Warrior secondary and Burgess stepped up again and batted down the pass, ending the game.
Final Score 12-7 Warriors, who advance to 4-3.
The night was one of defensive showcasing and offensive parity. The Warriors had 277 offensive yards (67 in the air and 210 on the ground) and the Wildcats had 235 (115 in the air and 120 on the ground). The refs on the night were very trigger happy with their yellow flags; Pendleton had 70 yards of penalties and Pocahontas 50. The Warriors had a rough night kicking. Starting holder Cage Burdette missed the game recovering from an injury, and four field-goal attempts and one point after all went awry.
Leading the Warriors in the air was Hayhurst who was six for 11 with 67 yards and one touchdown pass. Burgess had two receptions for 49 yards and a touchdown. Junior Running Back #11 Evan Hamrick had four for 18 combined yards. Rushing was led by Hamrick with 19 attempts for 128 yards. Hayhurst carried the rock 13 times for 39 yards and a touchdown. Burgess added to his stats with five carries for 38, and Junior #77 Austin Morgan stepped into the backfield and got a five-yard first down.
The Warriors were solid on controlling the ball, not turning it over once. While the Warriors picked off the Wildcats twice – once by Burgess and once by Clayton Burns. The Wildcats also had two fumbles, losing one, which was recovered by Junior DE #76 Logan Wimer. Leading the defense on tackles was Hamrick, racking up nine tackles, Senior LB #10 Ryan Robertson with six and Burns with 5.5 tackles
The Warriors will host the Bobcats of Summers County Friday, October 22. Kick-off is at 7 p.m.