MORGANTOWN – Buckhannon-Upshur head coach Duane Stoeckle was hoping for a reset to the season Thursday night against the Preston Knights in game played at University High’s Mylan Pharmaceuticals Stadium.
It didn’t happen though as the Bucs came out rusty and dropped a 34-0 decision.
The Bucs entered the game after having the last three weeks off due to the county being orange on the state’s COVID-19.
B-U could only condition and lift during that period while Preston was playing games during that span of time.
The Bucs were never able to gain any traction as they fell behind early by a 14-0 score and were never able to recover.
“We definitely played like we had been off for three weeks,” remarked Stoeckle. “It is hard to prepare for game speed in practice. I thought defensively we finally caught up by the end of the third quarter, but it was out of hand by that point.”
Preston scored on their first drive of the game, a 60-yard, five-play drive that ended when Easton Gibbs ran it in from eight yards out with 9:44 left on the first-quarter clock.
The kick by Trevor Thomas was good as Preston took a 7-0 lead.
A low snap on a failed punt attempt on B-U’s first drive set up Preston in great shape as they took over on the Buckhannon-Upshur 12-yard line.
Three plays later the Knights were in the end zone as Gibbs ran it in from eight yards out.
A bad snap negated the conversion kick, but Zach Riffle took the bad snap and ran it in over the right side for the two points as Preston took a 15-0 lead with 7:27 remaining in the first.
B-U was forced to punt on their next drive and Preston took over at their own 38-yard line.
They marched it 62 yards in 10 plays for their next score, an 11-yard reception from Thomas to Todd Fraley with seven seconds left in the opening quarter.
The kick was no good, but Preston owned a 21-0 lead.
Another special teams mistake by the Bucs set up Preston for their fourth touchdown.
An Ian Donnen punt deep in the Bucs own end was partially blocked giving the Knights the ball at the B-U 23-yard line.
Three plays later, Gibbs scored his third touchdown of the half on a seven-yard run.
The point-after kick by Levi Loudermilk was blocked, but the Knights owned a 27-0 lead with 4:44 left in the half.
That would be the score as the two teams went into the break.
Preston tacked on one more score in the second half, a two-yard run by Ayden Bishoff with 5:59 remaining in the third quarter.
Loudermilk’s point-after kick was good to finish up the scoring.
The Bucs amassed just 52 yards of total offense
Donnen led the Bucs on the ground with 27 yards on five carries.
He also completed four of his 13 passes for 18 yards.
Preston racked up 362 yards of total offense gaining 290 on the ground and 72 through the air.
Preston improved to 2-7 on the season.
The Bucs dropped to 1-5 on the season.
Despite the final score, Stoeckle was pleased with how his team competed against Preston.
“We always tell our players to play hard and never quit regardless of the score,” noted Stoeckle. “That we are evaluating them individually from the start to the last snap of the game. We have a bunch of young guys who like the game of football and want to do well. A core group of our players have pride in the Blue and White and always play to the end. This trait will serve them well moving forward over the next couple of years, and make them stronger and better players individually and a better team overall.”
Buckhannon-Upshur is slated to host Elkins next Friday.
Buckhannon-Upshur 0 0 0 0 – 0
Preston 21 6 7 0 – 34
Preston – Easton Gibbs, 8-yard run (Trevor Thomas kick)
Preston – Gibbs, 8-yard run (Zach Riffle run)
Preston – Todd Fraley, 11-yard reception from Thomas (kick failed)
Preston – Gibbs, 7-yard run (kick blocked)
Preston – Ayden Bishoff, 2-yard run (Levi Loudermilk kick)