By Stephen Smoot
Pocahontas County has struggled for much of the year with the single bright spot a 54-0 win over Richwood. Last Thursday, the Warriors faced a Wildcats club seeking to stay alive for playoff consideration.
The Warriors took the ball first and put it in the hands of their biggest weapon. Dakota Smith ripped off big runs to help his team get to the Wildcat 37. Terry Harvey stopped the back for a loss of two, then later Dillon Smith snuffed out a screen pass. Also suffering a penalty, Pocahontas County fell back to midfield and had to punt.
On its first series, Pendleton County found yardage difficult and had to punt after four plays. The punt left Pocahontas County with strong field position at the Wildcat 46. From there, they used effective runs and passes on a six-play drive to push into the end zone and score first.
The Wildcats featured a more diversified offense against the Warriors, trying to keep them from keying on featured back Dillon Smith. On the initial play of the drive, starting at their own 44, Josiah Kimble took an end around for a gain of four, followed by a 14-yard run by Dillon Smith to the Warrior 38. James Vincell then completed a nine-yard pass to the ever dangerous Clayton Kisamore, setting up a 2nd and 1 at the Pocahontas County 24.
Vincell took a keeper up the middle to earn the first down. On the next play, starting from the 20, Vincell took the snap, found no one to hand the ball to, and alertly drove ahead for a four-yard gain. A mixture of plays and penalties on both sides left the Wildcats with 2nd and goal at the 12, but Vincell found Kisamore in the end zone to tie the game. A Gabriel Harvey point after put Pendleton County up 7-6 with 10:11 left in the first half.
Pocahontas County went four and out on their next drive, partly courtesy of two big tackles by Dillon Smith. Their punt put the Wildcats on their own 35.
Coach Zac Smith stated that “Coach Roberson and the whole defensive staff did a nice job in putting together a great game plan. We bent, but didn’t break.”
Pendleton County then put together a 12 play drive that used several minutes. Vincell opened with three straight passes that gave the Wildcats a first down at their own 47. A roughing the passer call put the Wildcats deep in Warrior territory with a 1st and 10 at the 29. Dillon Smith ran strong off the left side to gain nine. Two plays later, a pass to Kisamore put the Wildcats at the 11. Although a solid run by Dillon Smith put Pendleton County at the six, a strong effort by the Warrior defense kept the Wildcats from a touchdown.
The Warriors gained 17 yards on seven plays to get to their own 23, but had to punt. Pendleton County took over with under a minute to play. Although a 12-yard pass to Isaiah Lockard advanced the ball to the 30, an interception with seven seconds left ended the drive and the half.
Coach Smith noted that he was proud to see “young guys stepping in” to lift the team.
With Vincell injured late in the first half, Dillon Smith orchestrated an 11-play drive to open the third quarter. He drove his team as far as the Warrior 20, but a sack pushed the Wildcats back three yards. A three-yard pass to Kimble and a five-yard pass on 4th down to Connor Armentrout left Pendleton County only inches from a first down and Pocahontas County took over.
Later in the quarter, after a big stop by the defensive line turned the ball over on downs, Dillon Smith then exploded for a 27-yard run that put his offense at the Warrior 21. He was stopped for a short loss on second down, but uncorked a beautiful pass to Armentrout in the endzone. Gabriel Harvey scored on the point after to lift his team up 14-6 with four minutes to go in the third quarter.
Coach Smith credited Dillon Smith, saying “a nice play he created found Connor open in the endzone.”
Midway through the fourth quarter, an injury to Dillon Smith allowed Pocahontas County to launch a four-play drive that covered 73 yards and ended in a score to put Pocahontas County within two at 14-12. Gabriel Harvey’s reliability kicking extra points proved vital as the Wildcat defense came up with a big stop on the two-point conversion.
Pendleton County recovered the onside kick at their own 42 and returned to the field with a noticeably slowed Dillon Smith back at quarterback. Two Bradey Bowers runs and a completed pass could not earn a 1st down and a short punt put Pocahontas County in good field position at their own 45.
Coach Smith praised the toughness of Dillon Smith, saying, “He makes it go with his arms and legs,” and added that “he’s a football player; that’s all there is to it.”
With 2:21 to go and Pendleton County missing two of its most proficient tacklers in Vincell and Dillon Smith, the Warriors attacked the defense. Their first pass was a precise strike for a six-yard gain, crossing midfield with plenty of time left on the clock.
Then came yet another big play from the Wildcat defense.
On 2nd and 4, the Warriors fired a deep pass that found the hands of Kisamore, whose key interception effectively ended the game.
Pendleton County returns to Friday night football when they visit East Hardy tomorrow.
Passing: Vincell 9/16 67 yards, TD, INT Dillon Smith: 10-12 59, TD
Rushing: Dillon Smith 15/106, Justus Kuykendall 3/12, Bowers 2/6, Vincell 4/4
Receiving: Kisamore 4/33 TD, Armentrout 3/30 TD, Kimble 7/34, Chase Owens 4/17, Lockard 1/12
PAT Gabriel Harvey 2/2
Dillon Smith 11 tackles, Terry Harvey 8, Bowers 7, Lucas Redman 6, Owens 5, Armentrout 5, Kuykendall 5, Blake Harris 3, Kisamore 2, Alex Reyes 1
Interceptions: Dillon Smith, Kisamore