There were several factors that helped lead Bridgeport to a win against Keyser this evening in Mineral County. But there were a couple that figured to be among the biggest of all in what turned into a 29-18 win against the Golden Tornado at Alumni Stadium.
One of the items was out of necessity. The other was a result of shear will and determination on a play that may have been the biggest of the game.
Thanks to both, the Class AA No. 4 Indians moved to 8-1 on the year. Keyser, ranked No. 7, falls to 6-2.
“This is a hard trip and a hard place to play,” said BHS Coach John Cole. “Any time you come out of here with a win, you’re very happy … The kids, what can you say? They played hard for four quarters.”
The move out of necessity was the Tribe coming out in the patented stick-I offense that had been put on mothballs almost completely after the 2012 season. The play of will came on special teams in the second half and put Keyser in a position it couldn’t overcome despite gaining nearly 100 more yards of offense than the Indians.
All of those numbers became moot on one key play in the fourth quarter. And it came after Bridgeport had taken what appeared to be a safe 28-7 lead early in the frame.
The Indians got just what they wanted to start the second half. The Tribe forced a quick three and out on defense and then got the ball back at their own 28 and went to work.
Bridgeport would need eight plays to go the distance and it would be Jake Bowen who did the honors in which he lived up to his all-state status on offense and showed he could get it done on defense as well. Bowen capped a 72-yard, eight-play drive with a 44-yard run where he was lined up at the fullback and scored on a quick hitter that saw him break a tackle at the line of scrimmage before darting free for six.
Evan Ogden came on and kicked the final of his four successful point-after kicks to make the score 28-7 with 6:41 left in the third. Those points would prove to be critical against a KHS team that had already managed to rally from a 40-14 second half deficit earlier this year by scoring 27 straight points to beat Weir 41-40.
The Golden Tornado appeared they were up to doing it again. The only problem was Bridgeport continually put roadblocks up at the most inopportune times.
Following the BHS score, Keyser marched from its own 25 to the Bridgeport one before a late hit personal foul moved them into a third-and-goal from the 16. After moving it to the nine for a fourth down play, D’Andre Holloway came up big with an interception at the goal line to give the Indians the ball back.
Bridgeport would be unable to do little with the possession as it started at its own one and punted four plays later. KHS suddenly had the ball back at the BHS 44 with 52.9 showing on the third quarter clock. Keyser would need just eight plays to cover the distance as Sam Perry scored from one yard out.
The momentum would be short lived. The point-after kick would be off the mark and Cole said “I think D’Andre got a piece of it.” Whether he did was irrelevant as the kick was off line and the Tribe still led 28-13.
After Keyser forced the second of three straight critical three and outs on Bridgeport’s offense on the next series, it went back to work looking to put serious pressure on the Indians. And they did just that.
Starting at their own 39, Keyser would need eight plays once again to find the end zone. Quarterback Ryan Shoemaker, who caused headaches all night for the Indians, gave them a migraine as he busted loose for a 36-yard run with 4:54 showing to bring the score to 28-19.
No one in the stands was surprised as KHS lined up to go for a two-point conversion. After finding success multiple times with the sweep, the hosts came up short on the two-point try and they had Bridgeport’s Carson Winkie and Elijah Smith to thank for it as the duo swarmed the play and stopped it cold.
“They had to go for two and, once again, they were running that quarterback up in there and the defense steps up,” said Cole. “I can’t say enough about the defense.”
The defensive stand did more than keep points off the board. It made it a two-possession game. After that, Keyser would never get back into Bridgeport territory and the game was over.
The game started with Bridgeport going back to the stick-I offense that made it famous statewide. However, it wasn’t anything the team saw scheme wise against Keyser on film that led to it. Rather, it was – as mentioned above – out of necessity.
“Both of our starting guards were out,” said Tyler Phares, the Indians’ offensive coordinator. “We wanted to try our best to protect some guys that were there that did a great job. We just felt under center we could have a lot more quick hitters. That worked well in the first half. The second half we wore down a little bit and they got more aggressive.”
The guards that stepped up are seniors. Carson DeMotto and Caleb Friel filled in and got the job done when it was needed most.
“They did great. They did as good as you could ask out of someone on limited reps,” said Phares of the seniors. “They did their job and I’m proud of them.”
After getting outgained in the first half, Keyser ended up winning the statistical battle. The Golden Tornado finished with 384 yards of offense, with 322 of it coming on the ground.
Shoemaker finished the game with 113 yards on 17 carries. KHS had three other rushers with more than 50 yards.
Bridgeport finished the game with 289 yards of offense. Of that total, 255 was by way of the rush.
Bowen ended the game with 166 yards on 24 carries. Trey Pancake added 61 yards on 12 runs.
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