The full story: Keyser outpaces Washington 55-35 in home opener

Staff Writer
Mineral Daily News-Tribune
Keyser's Zion Powell breaks off a long run in the first quarter of play.
Tribune photo by Chapin Jewell

By Chapin Jewell

Tribune Correspondent

KEYSER - It was a quite a show on Friday night from Alumni and Friends Field at Tornado Alley. Not only did the band and cheerleaders make their debut, but it was announced that the Keyser Athletic Queen contestants raised a collective $51,000, and Keyser and Washington combined for a total of 90 points in a 55-35 win for the Golden Tornado.

For those afforded the opportunity to attend due to COVID-19 restrictions, it was a ticket well worth the price of admission.

“We knew they were going to put up points. We were just trying to come out, our idea was to try and tempo them, because as you saw, they didn’t have a whole lot of people on their sideline.” Keyser coach Derek Stephen stated.

While Drae Allen led the way with four touchdowns, Keyser used a potent plethora of backs in amassing big yards and their 55 accumulated points.

“Any one of our guys can have a big game every week, and they’re not selfish, they’re out there blocking for each other. They’re going to go all out for each other because they’ve been playing with each other forever.  As long as we’re scoring, they’re happy,” Stephen explained.

Keyser’s “up-tempo” offense produced 501 yards rushing and 126 yards through the air for a combined 627 yards of offense.  Despite allowing Washington 409 yards on the ground and 50 yards through the air for 459 total yards, the Keyser defense tightened late to preserve the 20-point win.

“We just tried to come out and play sound defense against that single wing offense that you don’t see very often.Their playbook wasn’t very big, so we just tried to hit it over and over again in practice for our kids to make sure they got their alignments and assignments right,” Stephen explained.

 According to Stephen, “We saw on film that last week they were hitting the edges hard, so that was one of our focuses with our outside guys, trying to make sure that they were playing off blocks. They got to the edge a few times on us, but we were also there to string it out so they couldn’t get there and have a head of steam going down the sidelines.”

The Golden Tornado forced a three and out on the Patriots’ first possession. Two plays into their opening possession, Zion Powell cut through the left side and raced 39 yards to the Washington 22-yard line. Seven plays later, quarterback Gavin Root plunged into the end zone from less than a yard out, and with the Seth Earnest Kick, Keyser took an early 7-0 lead.

Washington responded to tie the action as Bryson Fleming took the ball off the left side, slipped three tackles, and raced into the end zone from 41 yards out with 4:49 to go in the opening frame. Keyser forced a punt on Washington’s next possession.

Mixing the run and pass, 10 plays and 76 yards later, Keyser’s Drae Allen scored his first of four touchdowns, and along with Earnest’s boot gave Keyser a 14-7 lead to essentially close out the first quarter.

“We were kind of going with that thunder and lightning look, with the lightning outside with our scat guys, and then trying to hit big with Drae up the middle, Stephen stated

On their next drive, Patriots’ quarterback Frankie Amore hit Bryson Fleming on a 38-yard catch and run on a deep crossing route to the Keyser 26. Three plays later, Amore rolled left, cut inside, and raced into the endzone. A fumble on the two-point conversion allowed Keyser to maintain the lead at 14-13.

It took only seven plays for Keyser to respond with another Drae Allen touchdown, this time from one yard out. Seth Earnest’s kick put Keyser up 21-13 with 8:48 to go in the second quarter.

On Washington’s next possession, Gavin Root snuffed out a fourth and short attempt for the Patriots in the backfield, and Keyser took over at their own 49-yard line. After a 20-yard first down reception on the first play of the drive from Root to Sammy Bradfield, eight plays later, Root again hit Bradfield, who caught the ball off the left side and ran eight yards into the endzone.  Earnest’s golden foot put Keyser up 28-13.  

Seth Healy broke up a Washington pass to the endzone to preserve the 28-13 Keyser lead heading into the locker rooms.

Five plays into the second half, Hunter VanPelt electrified the crowd with a 33-yard touchdown off a double handoff, zig-zagging his way through traffic off the right side. Earnest hit his fifth consecutive extra point of the game to extend the Keyser lead to 22 points (35-13) at the 10:40 mark of the third quarter.

It took Washington one play from scrimmage to respond as Frankie Amore rushed 52 yards from scrimmage for the Patriots touchdown.  The two-point conversion by Thomas Wogan cut the Keyser lead to two touchdowns (35-21), two minutes into the second half.

Keyser was forced to punt on their ensuing possession. On the first play of their drive, Washington’s Frankie Amore raced 73-yards before being pulled down by Keyser’s Zion Powell at the one-yard line. Thomas Wogan took it into the endzone on the next play and with 7:38 to go in the third quarter, the Keyser lead was cut to seven (35-28).

Keyser’s Benny Oates recovered the Washington kickoff to give Keyser possession starting at midfield.  On the next play, Drae Allen gashed the interior of the Washington defense, racing 50 yards for the score, his third of the game.  Earnest’s sixth conversion of the game upped the Black and Gold’s lead to 42-28 with 7:26 to go in the third frame.

After forcing another Washington punt, Keyser took possession at their own 27-yard line. Two plays into the drive, Gavin Root raced 30 yards across midfield to the Washington 43-yard line.  Seven plays and one big Sammy Bradfield run later, Drae Allen took it in for his fourth touchdown of the game, this one from one yard out. A busted two-point conversion play kept Keyser with a 48-28 lead late in the third.

Washington would make it to the Keyser 12-yard line on their next possession before being stopped on fourth down. Gavin Root would then later connect with Sammy Bradfield on a 44-yard strike that took the ball to the one-yard line.  Bradfield walked it into the endzone on the next play and with Earnest going seven for seven on extra point tries, Keyser upped their lead to 55-28 with 7:59 remaining.  

In the final minute of the contest, Thomas Wogan scored again for Washington on a 28-yard touchdown run, nonetheless, Keyser would claim victory with a final winning tally of 55-35.

Late in the game, Keyser substituted liberally, particularly on defense, giving a multitude of players valuable varsity reps.

“That’s one thing we do, if we can get the kids in there we’re going to try and get them in, because they bust their butt just like everyone else,” Stephen explained.

According to Stephen, “I think we’re making strides from week one to week two to week three, and that’s the big thing that stood out.  Our young guys are stepping up into their roles, and we made a couple of adjustments to the line on both sides, and I think it’s paying dividends right now.”

Keyser (2-1) will play home again next Friday at 7 p.m. as they host Nicholas County (1-2)