Keyser's huge second half sinks Petersburg 62-26
By Chapin Jewell
KEYSER - After drubbing Petersburg 62-26 at home on Friday, the Keyser Golden Tornado have now amassed a total of 405 points through eight games, an average of 51 points per game. They scored 70 points once, in the 60s three times, in the 50s twice, in the 20s once and the teens once. Very impressive.
Against Petersburg, however, of Keyser’s 62 points, 41 didn’t come until after halftime, meaning that the Golden Tornado stood at 21 points at halftime. Twenty-one points at halftime is generally an acceptable tally. When your opponent, however, stands only two points behind at 19 points, it makes for some uncomfortable times, especially considering Petersburg led Keyser 19-14 as late as the 2:39 mark of the second quarter.
“We didn’t have a really great week at practice and it showed tonight early. We try to convey to them, you play like you practice. But, we came out in the second half and played like we were capable of playing,” Keyser coach Derek Stephen stated after the game.
“I think they may have been overlooking them a little bit, but we tried to explain to them, this isn’t the Petersburg of old. This is a well-coached team heading in the right direction, they’re going to make some noise in single A for sure,” Stephen explained.
Petersburg opened the scoring with a two-yard touchdown run by Peyton Day at the 9:49 mark of the opening frame. With the point after unsuccessful, Petersburg jumped out to a 6-0 lead.
Less than two minutes later, Gavin Root hit Sammy Bradfield on a seven-yard swing pass, and with Seth Earnest’s kick, Keyser took a 7-6 lead with 7:58 to go in the first quarter. After the two teams then exchanged punts, Petersburg went right back to work to regain the lead.
The Vikings pulled off a successful eight-play, 63-yard drive, punctuated by a 23-yard touchdown run, again by Peyton Day, at the 1:07 mark of the first quarter. The two-point conversion attempt was no good and the Vikings’ lead stood at 12-7.
After forcing a Keyser punt, Petersburg mounted another scoring drive, this time to extend their lead. It took a 23-yard completion to Montana Sindledecker off a fake punt, and a 28-yard touchdown pass from Cody Nuzum to Peyton Day to get the job done. William Vanmeter’s kick at the 8:46 mark extended the Petersburg lead to 19-7.
But Keyser, in a foreshadowing of the third quarter offensive explosion that would later come, responded by scoring twice before the break to take the 21-19 lead at intermission.
On their ensuing drive, Gavin Root would punch it in from the three yard and with the Earnest kick, Keyser was within five points (19-14) with 6:13 remaining in the second quarter. After a Petersburg punt, Gavin Root would hit Sammy Bradfield on a 74-yard touchdown pass with 2:39 remaining in the half. Seth Earnest’s kick put Keyser up 21-19, a score that would hold until the intermission buzzer sounded.
What followed after the break was a 34-point third quarter explosion for the Golden Tornado.
“We didn’t really do anything different. I was just begging and pleading them to play to their capability. I was asking them after the game, why do I have to do this week in and week out. We seem to start slow and finish strong, but we need to be all four quarters of strong football,” Stephen stated.
What made the Keyser offense shine offensively was the ability to mix in different running backs and mixing in the pass with the run, making everything hard to defend.
“We’re trying to be a multi-headed attack, not letting anybody focus on one aspect. Because if they want to focus on our outside running game, then we have our pass and our inside game. If they take away the pass, then we have our run. If they take away the inside, we have the outside,” Stephen explained.
At the center of the Keyser offensive success was quarterback Gavin Root who would end up throwing for three touchdowns and running for two more, ultimately accounting for five touchdowns in the 62-26 rout.
“He is definitely growing as the year goes. We’re seeing things that they’re giving us and we are able to practice it and tell them this is what your read is going to be. We’ve also told him that you’re never going to be wrong if you get green grass and run it,” Stephen stated.
According to Stephen, “A lot of times, we called passes and the quarterback took off running. This year, he’s throwing it a little bit more, so it’s opening up the run lanes even more for him when he is able to take off.”
The Black and Gold took the second half kickoff and drove 66 yards on eight plays, with Gavin Root scoring on a 25-yard run to extend the lead to 27-19 (10:07). Root then connected with Dameain Emerick on a 25-yard scoring strike to take the margin to 15 points, 34-19 (4:17). After Petersburg recovered an onside kick, the Vikings scored their final touchdown as Vanmeter hit Jacob Landis on a 37-yard pass to being the score to 34-26 (3:25).
Keyser responded with Zion Powell returning the ensuing kickoff 75 yards for a touchdown to put Keyser back up 41-26 (3:13). Powell came up big on Petersburg’s next possession, intercepting a pass that resulted three plays later in Drae Allen taking it 35 yards to the house to put the Black and Gold up 48-26 (1:49). Vito Amoruso then set up the next Keyser score, recovering a Petersburg fumble on the first play from scrimmage Allen would ultimately bull his way in from one yard out to give Keyser the 55-26 lead (1:18).
The final score of the game came from Allen on a one-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter as Keyser earned the 62-26 victory (8:36).
Keyser amassed 555 total yards of offense with 332 rushing and 223 passing. Drae Allen led the way with 112 yards on 16 carries and three touchdowns followed by Gavin Root with 75 yards on 6 carries and three touchdowns. Sammy Bradfield rushed for 78 yards, Zion Powell for 21, Landon Rhodes for 15, Anthony Mele for 14, and Chayse Evans for 10.
Root completed 16 of 23 passes for 232 yards and three touchdowns. Bradfield led the way with four receptions for 106 yards and two touchdowns, while Dameain Emerick was next with six receptions for 44 yards and one touchdown. Zion Powell had four catches for 40 yards, Anthony Mele one catch for 16 yards, Seth Healy one catch for 13 yards, and Hunter Van Pelt once catch for four yards.
Defensively, the Golden Tornado was led in tackles by Drae Allen with eight, and Chayse Evans and Luke Anderson with seven apiece. Caden Youngblood, Sammy Bradfield, Vito Amoruso and Parker Anderson added five tackles apiece, and Benny Oates four.
Next up for Keyser (6-2) is a trip to John Marshall (5-2) on Friday with a 7 p.m. kickoff.
“They’ve been putting up points by the boat load. They’re a AAA team, ad they’re going to be big, they’re going to have some boys. I know we’re going to be in for a fight,” Stephen explained.