BUCKHANNON — “The Pick” represents the pride of West Virginia’s coal industry and the long-time football rivalry between Lewis County and Buckhannon-Upshur High Schools. “The Pick” is brought to every meeting between the schools and taken home by the winner to be displayed until the next meeting. This year makes the 110th exchange of “The Pick” since last year’s meeting was cancelled due to Covid. The Buckhannon-Lewis rivalry is one of the longest consecutive game series in West Virginia football history.
Buckhannon-Upshur football Buccaneers hosted the Lewis County Minutemen Friday night in conference action at Freal “Red” Crites Memorial Stadium. Both teams entered the evening 1 – 4 on the season and were hungry for a win.
The Minutemen would win the coin toss but chose to defer possession until the second half. The Bucs took full advantage of their first possession of the night. Senior Zack Mayle capitalized on a breakout run to take the ball to the Minutemen 2-yard line. Junior Ian Donnen would sneak the ball into the end-zone on a quarterback keeper to put the first points of the game on the board. Senior Cameron Zuliani made good on her kick for the extra point.
The Minutemen were not deterred and would come out fighting on their first possession. Junior Trenton Bush would make a 15-yard dash to the Bucs end zone, getting the Minutemen on the board. The Minutemen attempted to cash in on a two-point conversion attempt with Bush carrying the ball, but the strong Buccaneer defense was able to stop him at the line.
The Bucs came out fighting on their next possession. Junior Taiwo Thropp would return the ball to the Minutemen 25-yard line for the Bucs next possession. The Bucs took the ball the length of the field in only four plays with junior Elijah Bryant finding the end zone on a 16-yard run. Zuliani would remain true on her kick, giving the Bucs a 14 – 6 lead going into halftime.
The Minutemen started the second quarter at their own 44-yard line. They came out in aggressive fashion, moving the ball down the field in only six plays with sophomore Brayden Carder finding the end zone on a 10-yard run. This time, the Minutemen would make good on their two-point conversion attempt with Carder finding the end zone to tie the game at 14 – 14 with 9:21 left in the third quarter.
The Bucs returned the attack and did not panic at the tied score. The B-UHS offense came back aggressively on their next possession, where a 41-yard run by junior Savion Farmer set up quarterback Donnen to again sneak the ball into the end zone returning the Bucs lead, which they would keep the rest of the night.
The Minutemen offense struggled to gain momentum the rest of the evening, while their defense attempted to step up their game and slow down the Bucs offense. Their efforts were effective and had the Bucs facing a fourth down at the Lewis County 15-yard line. Zuliani came in for the Bucs to attempt a field goal, which was good from 20 yards out and strengthened the Bucs lead to 24 – 14.
The Minutemen offense would make a long drive towards the Bucs end zone; however, their efforts were fruitless when they fumbled the ball on the Bucs 1-yard line. Junior Joel Hershman recovered the fumble for the Bucs, who would control the rest of the game. Farmer would reach the end zone for the Bucs, who ended the night 31 – 14 over the Minutemen.
The Bucs defense had some big plays on the evening with senior Logan Kelley, sophomore Blake Runion, junior Dalton Crites, and junior Taiwo Thropp all recording sacks on the Minutemen quarterback.
After the game, Bucs Coach Zach Davis said, “We talked before the game how it’s all game and no me. There was a sign in the locker room that said ‘Big Team, little me’ and I took it off the wall because it’s not big team little me, it’s all team. That was a team effort. We saw guys play for their teammates and it was fun to watch them.”
The Bucs, now 2 – 4 on the season, will host the Hawks of University at home Friday at Freal “Red” Crites Memorial Stadium. The Hawks will enter the contest on a 6 – 0 record after winning an out-of-state game against Albert Gallatin. The non-conference meeting is set for 7:30 p.m. kickoff.
Buckhannon-Upshur 7 7 10 7 – 31
Lewis County 6 0 8 0 – 14
Buckhannon-Upshur – Ian Donnen 2-yard carry (Cameron Zuliani kick)
Buckhannon-Upshur – Elijah Bryant 16-yard carry (Cameron Zuliani kick)
Buckhannon-Upshur – Ian Donnen 1-yard carry (Cameron Zuliani kick)
Buckhannon-Upshur – Cameron Zuliani 20-yard field goal
Buckhannon-Upshur – Savion Farmer 57-yard carry (Cameron Zuliani kick)