By Stephen Smoot
After a two game winning streak of sorts (a win against Richwood and a forfeit from Southern Garrett, Maryland) Pendleton County took an improved team into Parsons to face Tucker County.
There, on a cool, dry, and windless night, they ran into a Mountain Lion squad working to overcome two straight weeks of wins, but also sub-par play.
Tucker County kicked off to the Wildcats, then lost a fumble to them on the Pendleton County 30 with 7:30 left in the first quarter. The visiting squad moved the ball up the field into Tucker County territory, seeing a first and 10 at the Mountain Lion 39. The drive stalled out, however, and the Wildcats had to punt.
Taking the ball at their own 30, Tucker County ran the ball right for five yards, then threw a pass into the left flats for a gain to their own 43. The Mountain Lions used a version of the old Rich Rodriguez offense, spreading receivers across the field, throwing short passes and running the ball to work against the pass defense. Pendleton County tried to contain the offense, bending but not breaking. The Mountain Lions, unfortunately, had significant speed and experience at the skilled positions.
Tucker County’s offense held onto the ball on this drive for almost four minutes, methodically moving the ball. They reached the Wildcat 16 where on second and seven, then third and seven, defenders swatted the ball from receivers at the goal line. On fourth and seven, however, the quarterback arced a pass over the outstretched hands of the defense into the endzone for a touchdown. A two-point conversion made the score 8-0.
Pendleton County tried to use the passing game to respond, but the Mountain Lions returned an interception back to the Wildcat nine, then took two plays to post their second touchdown of the night.
Most of the rest of the first half saw frustrations pile up for the Wildcats. Tucker County moved the ball well, then stymied Wildcat efforts to answer. The main bright spot of the first half came with 1:44 left in the second quarter.
After Tucker County extended its lead to 32 – 0, Josiah Kimble stumbled somewhat at the 20 when trying to pick up the kickoff. This threw off the timing of the kickoff team’s pursuit. Kimble found a hole and made a sharp cut toward the middle to evade a would-be tackler. Then he showed his speed, streaking down the field to score Pendleton County’s first points of the game. Dillon Smith bulled over the goal line to add the two-point conversion.
The quick strike did not sap Tucker County’s momentum as they resumed their dominant performance through the end of the game, running away with a 54 to 8 win.
Pendleton County’s interesting schedule has pitted it against either powerhouses or weak squads all season. Over the next two weeks, the Wildcats should have solid opportunities to build up the win column before facing Moorefield, then Cameron to close out the season.
Friday night’s game against Tygarts Valley will be homecoming and senior night. Game time is 7 p.m.