TENNERTON – The Buckhannon-Upshur football Buccaneers defeated the Philip Barbour Colts by a 19-10 score in Big 10 Conference action Friday night at Freal “Red” Crites Memorial Stadium.
But the game just might have been won prior to any play being ran.
The Bucs won the coin toss prior to the game starting and elected to defer, getting the ball to start the second half and what a decision that was.
Trailing 10-6 at the half, the Bucs took that second half kick-off and marched 67 yards in 11 plays with the drive culminating with a bit of trickeration as Jayden Owens took the hand off from quarterback Ian Donnen, swept right and threw a perfect 26-yard halfback pass to Sterlin Thropp for a touchdown.
Cameron Zuliani’s point-after kick was good giving the Bucs a 13-10 lead, and it was a lead they wouldn’t relinquish, dominating play the rest of the half.
Stoeckle explained his decision to defer to the second half.
“We have a young team and a young quarterback,” noted Stoeckle. “Sometimes it’s nice to just get a feel of the game. Let the defense go out and maybe we can get a short field or a turnover. And we simply like getting the ball to start the second half. You could see their confidence building throughout the game and they really put it all together in the second half.”
The B-U defense then came alive carrying over the momentum from the score and stuffed the Philip Barbour offense to a three-and-out holding them to negative 11 yards on the drive with Elijah Bryant coming up with a sack on third down.
The Colts punted the ball away with the Bucs taking over at their own 45 with 3:14 remaining in the third quarter.
The Bucs put together a quality drive going 55 yards in eight plays with Donnen floating a perfect 19-yard pass to Tyson Pugh down the right sideline and into the end zone for the score.
The kick failed but the Bucs were up 19-10 with 11:40 left in the game.
The B-U defense forced the Colts on downs on their next possession, and after burning over four minutes off the clock, the Colts’ next drive came to a halt when Thropp stepped in front of a fake-punt pass and picked it off at the Colt 36-yard line effectively ending the game.
“It really did come down to us gaining confidence as the game went on,” stated Stoeckle. “I thought we dominated both the offensive and defensive lines in the second half. I am so proud of the offensive line. They just had so much confidence after that first score and you could see they wanted more. It just kind of builds, confidence is a great thing. You feel like you can’t do anything wrong and it snowballs in a good way.”
In the first half after a scoreless first quarter, Jesiah Matlick gave the Colts a 7-0 lead after a one-yard quarterback plunge.
The Bucs finally got on the board when Elijah Bryant went over the left corner for a one-yard scamper making it a 7-6 game.
Hunter Melvin extended the lead for the Colts with a 29-yard field goal to 10-6 and that would be the halftime score before the Bucs turned the game around in the second half.
Bryant helped jump start the running game for the Bucs tonight with 59 yards and a score on 19 carries.
“Bryant is a gamer,” said Stoeckle. “He takes advantage of every rep he gets in practice. He always goes hard and earned his carries tonight. He secures the football and gives us all he has. As a coach, that is all you can ask for.”
Stoeckle said the win helps validate what he and his staff have been doing with the young team thus far.
“A win always helps,” remarked Stoeckle. “The team will believe to an extent, but they have to see how it works. Now we have that and having the team buy in even more to what we are trying to do and accomplish. We are excited about this first win. We get that monkey off our back and now we can move forward. We never know what the season holds but we played that second half like it was our last game. Again, just so proud of the effort and heart the team showed tonight. It was a good night for Buccaneer football.”
The Colts dropped to 0-2 on the season.
The Bucs improved to 1-1 overall and will return to action next Friday for their first road game of the year when they visit the Hampshire Trojans for a 7 p.m. start.
Hampshire is coming off of a 55-7 loss to Spring Mills Friday night.