TENNERTON — Coming fresh off of a massive first win of the year over the Ripley Vikings in September 2’s home opener, the Buckhannon-Upshur High School Football Buccaneers entered Friday, September 9’s home match-up against Route #33 rival, the Philip Barbour Colts, with a renewed sense of purpose after a great week of practices.
The Buccaneers had reason to be confident heading into Friday night, with recent history on their side having beat Philip Barbour last season, securing head coach Zach Davis’ first win in just his third overall game manning the sidelines for Buckhannon-Upshur. Assuredly, the final score of 27 to 16 meant as much to Coach Davis’ as it did the Philip Barbour coaches and players that were on the other end of last year’s game, setting the tone for these two teams renewing their decades old rivalry on the gridiron this past Friday.
The Colts, looking to rebound from a heartbreaking one score loss to Clay County the week before by a final score of 36 to 30, entered Freal “Red” Crites Memorial Stadium with an upset in the forefront of their minds. After the Buccaneers first drive couldn’t get traction, the Colts took over, striking first after winning the battle in the trenches on the goal line and scoring on a one-yard touchdown and successfully booting the extra point to go up 7 to 0. Coach Davis’ Buccaneers managed to respond later in the second quarter, as senior quarterback Ian Donnen kept it himself and scored from one yard out, with the Buccaneers’ kicker Wyatt Mason nailing the extra point to tie things up. With each team’s hard-hitting defenses made the opposing offenses earn every yard through the first half. With points at a premium in this heated rivalry, the 7 to 7 tie held heading into the locker-room for halftime.
The Colts came out of halftime and methodically drove the ball sixty yards down to the Buccaneer one yard line, where they scored their second one-yard touchdown of the day and converted the extra point to break the tie and seize control of the lead, 14 to 7.
The Buccaneers again dug deep to find an answer, wearing down the Colts’ stout defense, before senior tailback Savion Farmer ripped off a 37-yard house call before Mason booted the extra point to knot things up at 14 to 14. The Colts wasted no time regaining control of the lead as they scored on an explosive play of their own on just their second play of the drive, with a 77-yard rushing touchdown. The Colts converted a two-point conversion through the air to push the lead to a game high eight points. the Colts found themselves up 22 to 14 late in the third quarter.
The Buccaneers needed a score on the next drive to stay in the game and the veteran Buckhannon-Upshur backfield responded with a nine play 70-yard scoring drive, with Donnen scoring his second one-yard touchdown of the evening. The Buccaneers opted to go for the tie, which ultimately came up short, leaving Coach Davis’ team in a precarious position, down two points in the fourth quarter.
Needing a stop to give their offense a chance, the Buccaneers bent, but didn’t break. The Colts made it into Buccaneers territory, threatening to score again before the Buckhannon-Upshur defense stepped up and came up with a stop on a crucial fourth and three to force the turnover on downs.
Taking over around their own 35-yard line with 6:33 remaining in the fourth quarter, the Buccaneers showed the true character of their team, with Donnen and Farmer leading a game-winning drive in the game’s waning seconds. The Buccaneers were aided by a key mistake by the Colts, as they committed an offsides penalty at a critical down and distance, on a fourth and two as the Buccaneers entered the redzone. The penalty gave the Buccaneers a fresh set of downs to work with, as they kept working the ground game for chunk plays until Donnen scored his third touchdown of the day, on yet another one-yard quarterback sneak. While the two-point conversion failed, Donnen’s score gave the Buccaneers a 26 to 22 lead with just over thirty seconds left. Trying to race against the clock, the Colts’ offense wasn’t able to get anything going on their last drive, thanks to a great push from the Buccaneers’ defensive front which snuffed out any chance the Colts had at pulling off a miracle.
As a team, the Buccaneers amassed 379 total yards, with 375 of those yards coming on the ground. The Buccaneers’ offensive line consistently opened up holes as they gradually overwhelmed their opponents on the ground, whittling away at a stout Colts’ defense. With 61 rushing attempts, Coach Davis and his staff clearly put an emphasis on being physical and overpowering their opponents at the point of attack this week. Donnen and Farmer led a potent ground attack for the Buccaneers against the Colts, with both playing a big role in the game winning drive. Farmer was the lead back for the Buccaneers this past Friday, racking up 234 yards on 27 carries and a touchdown, while Donnen rushed 11 times for 39 yards and three touchdowns. Bryson Johnston rushed 11 times for 65 yards, and Elijah Bryant rushed 12 times for 37 yards. Donnen wasn’t very busy through the air, with the senior signal caller going 1 for 2 for 4 yards.
The Buccaneers defense, faced with a tough challenge physically all night, turned in a sold all-around performance. However, when it mattered the most, the Buccaneers defense answered the bell in crunch time, setting up the game winning drive with a stop.
Coach Davis spoke on the game’s final minutes, specifically the game saving stops and game winning drive, saying, “Those last few minutes, after our defense stepped up and gave our offensive unit a shot at a game winning drive, I felt good about our chances. Our offense is made for those situations. Our guys were in control of their emotions, they went out kept their composure and executed at a high level. We have a very steady group.”
The Buccaneers will be back in action this coming Friday, September 16 as they travel to Glen Dale to square off against the John Marshall Monarchs. John Marshall, coming off a tough 49 to 21 loss to Bridgeport will be looking to get their season back on track, while the Buccaneers will be looking to keep the positive momentum they generated the past few weekends rolling as they seek to reel off their third straight victory. Kickoff is schedule for 7:30 p.m.