KEYSER - Last season, Keyser made the three-hour plus trip to Summersville and unceremoniously dispatched the host Nicholas County Grizzlies with complete and utter domination to the tune of 63-0. Surely, Nicholas County's turn to take to the road and travel to Keyser in 2020 couldn't turn out any worse.
By Chapin Jewell
KEYSER - Last season, Keyser made the three-hour plus trip to Summersville and unceremoniously dispatched the host Nicholas County Grizzlies with complete and utter domination to the tune of 63-0. Surely, Nicholas County’s turn to take to the road and travel to Keyser in 2020 couldn’t turn out any worse.
Or could it? Well, the only good news for the visitors from Summersville is that they would manage to post 19 points to the score board. The bad news? Nicholas County would give up 70 points off 10 Keyser touchdowns as the Golden Tornado scored early, often, on the ground and through the air in the 70-19 home victory.
That 70-point tally represents the most ever points scored by a Golden Tornado team in a single game in the 100-plus year history of Keyser High School football.
Scoring 61, 12, 55 and 70 points respectively, through four games, the potent Keyser offense is averaging 49.5 points, or rounded up, 50 points per game. Against Nicholas County, the Black and Gold rushed for over 439 yards with Drae Allen accounting for 182 yards and four rushing touchdowns on only five carries, and Zion Powell 70 yards and two rushing touchdowns on only five carries.
Quarterback Gavin Root went 5-8 for 98 yards and two passing touchdowns, one of which went to Zion Powell for this third touchdown of the game, the other to Dameian Emerick.
“The game plan was to just come out and do what we do. Hit the outside with our speed guys and hit the big guy up the middle. It’s worked for us so far, so if it isn’t broke, why fix it,” Keyser coach Derek Stephen stated.
Defensively, Keyser held Nicholas County to far fewer points than their previous three opponents, 19 points compared to 33, 35, and 35 points respectively.
“They really stepped up to the plate, we’ve been working on it all week, that’s one of the things we stressed. It’s nice to see the score where it was,” Stephen stated. “Tonight, it was looking like one of our defenses of old, but we still made a couple of mistakes. We played well, but we’re always going to find something that we need to work on.”
According to Stephen, “They’re growing, they’re learning, and they’re picking up the nuances of the defense. They’re picking it up on the fly pretty well, so that’s the biggest thing we’re seeing. They’re getting better and better every week, so, they’re doing what we’re asking them to do.”
Keyser wasted little time getting started offensively. Fifty-two seconds into the first quarter, Zion Powell took the handoff heading right on the jet sweep, made a cut up the center of the field, then bounced back to the right side, racing 42-yards to the end zone. Seth Earnest made the first of what would be 10 consecutive extra point kicks on the night to give the Golden Tornado a 7-0 lead.
Earnest’s 10 consecutive extra points established for the multi-sport star a new single-game record in Keyser football history.
At the 6:25 mark of the first quarter, Drae Allen took a handoff up the middle and shook off a would be tackle at the three-yard line to propel Keyser to a 14-0 lead. Nicholas County would respond at the 2:30 mark of the first quarter when quarterback Jordan McKinney, off a play-action pass, hit Garrett Kesterson for the 32-yard scoring strike. The extra point was no good, and Keyser held a 14-6 lead.
Keyser’s next two touchdowns would both come off long runs by fullback Drae Allen. With 1:18 remaining in the first quarter, Allen bursted up the middle, made hard contact with a Nicholas County defender at the line of scrimmage, bounced off, spun around, then shot off the the left side where he raced 49-yards for the score. At the 8:06 mark of the second quarter, Allen scampered 61-yards for the score to put Keyser up 28-6.
To close out the first half scoring, Keyser would get a rushing touchdown from Zion Powell and two passing touchdowns from Gavin Root. Powell took the handoff on the jet sweep off the right, then zigged and zagged his way into the end zone from seven-yards out with 5:35 remaining in the second.
At the 2:41 minute mark, Root rolled right and hit Dameian Emerick near the back right corner of the end zone. With 1:11 remaining in the half, Root this time rolled left and hit Zion Powell for the catch and run seven-yard score to give Keyser a 49-6 halftime lead.
Jacob Williams would put Nicholas County back on the board with a one-yard touchdown run out of the I-formation with 10:19 to go in the third quarter. The extra point was no good and the scoreboard showed a 49-12 lead in favor of the Golden Tornado.
Keyser would get two rushing touchdowns in the third quarter to extend their lead to 63-12. First, Drae Allen scored his fourth touchdown of the day at the 9:41 mark, lowering the boom on a Grizzly defender before bouncing off and racing for the 39-yard score. Chayse Evans then pushed through the line from two-yards out with 3:14 remaining in the third frame.
With Keyser leading 63-12, Nicholas County’s Tyler Timmerman scored the final Grizzly points of the night on a three-yard run. The extra point this time was good bringing the score to 63-19. The Golden Tornado closed out all scoring with 6:25 remaining on a running clock when Seth Sions took a Seth Healy handoff six yards into the endzone. Seth Earnest’s 10th consecutive extra point of the night gave Keyser the 70-19 lead for good.
With the big lead and running clock mercy rule in effect, Keyser was able to substitute liberally throughout the second half.
“It was nice to get everybody in, especially on Senior Night. I think all the seniors got to play at least a quarter or more, so that was a good thing for them. We had an interception by a senior, and a couple of other things, they had a big night,” Stephen explained.
Now, Keyser (3-1), can turn their attention to neighbor and rival Hampshire (2-2), winners of two straight over Buckhannon-Upshur and Brooke.
“We’re going to use the same game plan. We’re definitely going to work on our secondary. Hampshire’s on a roll right now, they’re going to have some confidence coming in, so it’s going to be a challenge we haven’t faced from them in a couple of years. Hopefully, we step up to the plate and I know they’re going to be up to the challenge as well,” Stephen stated..
Keyser and Hampshire will kick off on Friday, Oct. 2 at 7 p.m. in Keyser.