After Petersburg pillaged Pendleton County on the road last week, the Wildcats refused to slink back to their dens as they traveled to face a larger school. Instead, they came out roaring, producing a dominant complete game in front of fans who came nearly two and a half hours one way to support the squad.
Grafton featured elusive quarterback Camden Foley and favorite target, Dillen America.
“We knew coming in that they had a couple of good skill kids,” Coach Zac Smith said
Grafton came out firing from their own 36, completing a nine-yard pass and recovering the receiver’s fumble. A Foley pass completion took the ball to the 29, but a false start penalty, and solid defense stalled the drive. Shortly thereafter, Josiah Kimble broke up a pass at the 10 on 2nd and 15. On 4th and 7 Terry Harvey, who played big from his defensive line position all night, snuffed out the quarterback keeper and gave the ball to the offense.
Here, Pendleton County established its running attack first with Dillon Smith, whom Coach Smith called a “workhorse,” and the offensive line of Adam Ruddle, Blake Harris, Lucas Redman, Tanner Huffman, and Tyler Huffman. Their efforts helped Dillon Smith enjoy a 37 carry for 207 yards performance.
As Coach Smith explained, “We’ve been preaching to the offensive line” about “being physical up front and we got physicality in here tonight.” Dillon Smith carried the ball nine times on Pendleton County’s first possession alone, helping to take the ball to the Grafton 19 before a lost fumble ended the drive.
Run dominance early forced Grafton to make adjustments that gave Pendleton County quarterback James Vincell numerous opportunities to hit receivers covered one on one on the wide side of the field as the game wore on.
“James made some nice throws,” noted Coach Smith.
Grafton found the Wildcat defensive line in its path as they tried to take advantage of the Pendleton County turnover. Defensive lineman Redman stopped an initial rush up the middle and the defensive line provided a huge stop on a key 3rd and 2 to force a Grafton punt.
As the first quarter closed, the Wildcats had dominated the game in every phase except the scoreboard, but that would soon change.
Pendleton County’s second drive at the opening of the second quarter featured solid running by Dillon Smith and accurate passing by Vincell. He converted a 3rd and 5 at midfield with a 16-yard pass to Dusty Smith, then later hit Clayton Kisamore with a nine-yard pass to the 13. In between completions, Dillon Smith continued to run downhill, often carrying multiple defenders on his back. Facing a 4th and goal at the three, Vincell capped the drive by rolling left and delivering a tightly thrown ball back to Dusty Smith waiting in the middle of the end zone.
On its next possession, Grafton took only four downs to give the ball back to the Wildcats with a Chase Owens breakup of a Foley pass ending their drive. “The defense did a nice job running to the ball tonight.” Coach Smith said.
Coach Smith then followed the old Joe Gibbs tactic of following a big stop by the defense with a deep strike on offense. Vincell found a streaking Kisamore who took a 44-yard catch and run to the endzone to put the Wildcats up 15-0 after the conversion.
Grafton fumbled on the first play of their drive, giving the ball to the Wildcats at the 44. Once again, the offense scored on an aggressive call as Vincell hit Kisamore on a hitch and go for another Pendleton County score. Grafton’s final drive of the half ended with a Kisamore interception with seconds left.
To open the third quarter, the Wildcats executed the formula that enabled first half dominance. Starting from the Pendleton County 44, Dillon Smith gained 13 yards in three carries, which set up a Vincell 44-yard touchdown pass to Dusty Smith.
Grafton then executed a 10 play, nearly a four-minute drive that saw Kimble break up yet another deep pass on third down. Foley, however, found America on a touchdown pass pulling them to within 28 to 6 after the Wildcats blocked the point after.
As Coach Smith explained, “We’ve been struggling to score points, but the floodgates opened tonight.”
After a drive stalled and a Vincell quick kick put Grafton at its own 36, the Bearcats took approximately two minutes to push the ball into the endzone again, this time with a two yard keeper by Foley.
On the ensuing kickoff, Grafton came close to answering, but for a Gabriel Harvey touchdown saving tackle.
From this point forward, big defensive plays and relentless runs by Dillon Smith set the tone for the game. A 28-yard touchdown pass from Foley with 2:44 left theoretically kept Grafton in the game, but their inability to stop Dillon Smith left the game out of reach.
The Wildcats are on the road again this Friday. Their winless opponent, Southern Garrett, dropped a 42-0 loss to Cumberland powerhouse Fort Hill last Friday. The previous week, Moorefield defeated them 21-7.
Passing: James Vincell 11-14 191 yards, 4 TDs 1 INT
Rushing: Dillon Smith 37-201 TD, James Vincell 3-14, Chase Owens 1 (-5), Kammron Redman 1 (-2)
Receiving: Clayton Kisamore 6-115 2 TD, Dusty Smith 3-60 TD, Chase Owens 2-16
Tackles: Terry Harvey 11, Chase Owens 8, Dillon Smith 7 (1 sack), Connor Armentrout 6, Dusty Smith 5, Lucas Redman 4, James Vincell 4, Alex Reyes 3, Isaiah Lockard 2, Blake Harris 2, Adam Ruddle, Clayton Kisamore, Gabriel Harvey, Josiah Kimble 1 each.
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