Keyser loses the Battle of Point Pleasant 38-28
By Chapin Jewell
POINT PLEASANT - On Oct. 10, 1774, the Battle of Point Pleasant was fought between members of the Virginia Militia and Native Americans from the Shawnee and Mingo tribes. Fast forward to one day shy of 226 years later, and a second Battle of Point Pleasant was fought, this time on the gridiron and between the host Big Blacks and the visiting Golden Tornado of Keyser.
In the end, and without any sort of interruption, interference, or even an appearance from Point Pleasant’s legendary Mothman, the home standing Big Blacks topped Keyser by a score of 38-28.
“We’ve got to clean ourselves up. We didn’t have the best week of practice and it shows. That’s got to be the big thing that we take away. I just told the kids, we’ve got to come this week ready to play and ready to get better,” Keyser coach Derek Stephen said after the contest.
“But, we’re going to grow from this, we’re going to get better. We’ve already addressed that. I told them to sulk on this for the night, then we’ll get back at it tomorrow.”
“For the most part, some of the things we practiced this week we were able to do. We had to alter it a little bit just playing from behind. We had to throw the ball some more, which we didn’t do really good tonight. But, for the most part, our game plan coming in, we were able to run and execute it,” Stephen stated. “The way that Drae Allen ran the ball, and Gavin (Root), the way they were running the ball, and Zion. Sammy Bradfield really stepped up today.”
Defensively, Keyser struggled with what presented as a high-powered Point Pleasant offense. The Big Blacks threw a great deal more than what was presented on film. In fact, Point Pleasant quarterback Hunter Bush established a new school record with 28 pass completions during the game.
“After watching their films, I thought they were about 50-50, maybe 55-45 run to pass, it seemed more balanced. Tonight, I think they were just taking what we were giving them and passing with it,” Stephen explained.
According to Stephen, “When you have multiple aspects you have to cover, it makes it a little hard. We were trying to focus on their quarterback. They played Bluefield last week and he was throwing the ball and running the ball all over the place, so we knew what kind of athlete we were getting. We just didn’t play up to our ability this week.”
Keyser got off to a great start, as the Golden Tornado took the opening kickoff and marched down the field, scoring the game’s opening touchdown on their opening drive. Gavin Root took the ball off the right side and ultimately dove into the end zone for a 22-yard touchdown run. Seth Earnest’s extra point gave the Golden Tornado the lead right out of the gate.
Point Pleasant would respond with two touchdowns in the first quarter to capture a 14-7 lead at the end of the opening frame. The Big Blacks got a one yard touchdown run by Evan Roach (4:05) and a six yard touchdown run by Evan Roach (:53), that along with a pair of Ellie Wood kicks provided the home team with a seven point advantage.
In the second quarter, Keyser would waste little time getting back on the board as Drae Allen would score the equalizer with 10:34 remaining in the second quarter. Allen dazzled the crowd, bullying his way through traffic, running forward and running backwards, all the while dragging would be tacklers across the goal line.
The game would remain tied for three minutes until Evan Roach struck again on the ground. Ellie Wood’s kick put the Big Blacks ahead 21-14 with 7:21 remaining in the opening half. Point Pleasant would extend their lead at the half to 28-14 as with 51 seconds remaining, Joel Beattie dramatically hauled in a Hunter Bush pass one-handed for an 11-yard score.
Trailing by two touchdowns (14 points) at the half, Keyser would rally to outscore Point Pleasant 14-10 after intermission. Unfortunately for Keyser, that still left the Golden Tornado 10 points short overall.
In the waning moments of the game, Keyser, down only three (31-28), had a chance to make a fourth down stop deep in their own territory that would have given them a chance to drive the length the field for the winning score. Despite Drae’s Allen’s spectacular and bone crushing hit on the Point receiver, he amazingly hung onto the ball for the first down.
The second half scoring started with a Sammy Bradfield 34-yard touchdown run in the third quarter. Seth Earnest’s kick drew Keyser to within seven points (28-21). With 10:31 remaining in the fourth quarter, Point Pleasant kicker Ellie Wood would deliver a 28-yard field goal to extend the Big Blacks’ lead to ten points (31-21)
On a fourth down and goal from the Point Pleasant three-yard line, Gavin Root would connect on a 3-yard touchdown pass to Dameain Emerick, that, along with Earnest’s kick, pulled Keyser to within three points (31-28) with over six minutes remaining in the game.
Once Point Pleasant converted the fourth-down play referenced above, the Big Blacks’ Joel Beattie would score on a three-yard run, and Wood’s kick would bring the final score to 38-28 in favor of the Mason County hosts.
Keyser amassed 277 total offensive yards with 240 coming on the ground and 37 through the air. Drae Allen eclipsed the century mark with 101 yards on 17 carries and a touchdown. Sammy Bradfield and Gavin Root each added a rushing score. Root connected on five passes for 37 yards and one passing touchdown to Dameain Emerick.
Point Pleasant tallied 386 total yards, 229 through the air and 157 on the ground.
“The big thing we need to do is just get better at what we’re doing. We struggled with that this week like I said earlier. We’re still having these ebbs and flows. Like, we’ll have one good practice, one okay, one bad, one good. It showed how we played tonight. We’d have one good series and then one that would be not so good, and then an okay one,” Stephen explained.
Despite the loss, it was a game that allowed a young squad to gain valuable experience playing in a tough environment against quality competition. Thankfully, there were no accounts of Mothman involvement with the bus on the ride home either.
Keyser (4-2) will host Jefferson (2-3) Friday at 7 p.m.