GRAFTON—The Braxton County Eagles came into McKinney Field on Friday night looking for their first win of the season, and were able to escape with a 21-14 victory over the Bearcats.
Braxton County scored on their first two possessions of the game to take an early 14-0 lead and held on throughout the rest of the contest.
In the first series, the Eagles moved the ball into Grafton territory quickly, connecting on a 51-yard pass on their first play from scrimmage to move the ball down to the GHS 17-yard line. Two plays later, Braxton’s Justin Paletti ran it in from nine yards out and a successful extra point gave the Eagles a 7-0 lead with 10:19 to go in the 1st quarter.
Grafton would move the ball into Eagle territory on their first offensive series, using a mix of Dillon Williams and James Hoskins’ rushes to advance the ball to the BCHS 38. That drive would stall and a Joey Dingeldein punt would be downed by the Bearcats the BCHS 1-yard line.
Braxton County would again find a way to execute a big play, as Eagles running back Baine Cogar was seemingly wrapped up on the second play in the drive near the BCHS 11-yard line, only to change directions and break off an 89-yard TD run with 5:13 left in the 1st quarter. MiKayla Brown’s second extra point of the night would extend Braxton County’s lead to 14-0.
Poor execution in the red zone by Grafton in the first half would ultimately doom the Bearcats, as three separate trips inside the Eagles’ 20 would result in zero points.
Grafton would receive the kickoff to begin the 3rd quarter, and their first offensive series would net a total of seven negative yards and a punt.
On the next series, Braxton would move the ball into Grafton territory again, but a missed 31-yard field goal would give the Bearcats new life.
Grafton would put together a 12-play drive, using a combination of Dillon Williams, Justin Spiker, and James Hoskins’ rushes, as well as Logan Beltner passes, to move the ball deep into Eagle territory. Three consecutive Williams’ rushes (6, 21, and 5 yards) would be capped off by a 3-yard Williams’ rushing TD with 45 seconds left in the 3rd quarter to bring the score to 14-7 after a successful Dingeldein extra point.
The Eagles would push their lead back up to two scores on their next offensive series with a 21-yard TD run by Paletti with 9:20 remaining in the contest.
The Bearcats would not give up, however, as they answered with a couple of big plays of their own. Logan Beltner would complete a 30-yard pass to Kaden Delaney while Dillon Williams would break off runs of 11 and 19 yards on the drive, the second rush good enough for a Grafton touchdown to bring the Bearcats back to within seven, 21-14, with 7:11 left in the contest.
After the two teams traded drives with neither resulting in a score, Grafton would have the ball deep in Braxton County territory twice in their last two possessions, only to turn the ball over and come away with zero points.
“Had we played the first quarter like we had played most of the remainder of the ballgame, we’d been in great shape,” said head coach Rich Bord after the game. “You’ve got to get out to a fast start, and that didn’t happen. We looked up and we were in a 14-0 hole.”
Although the Bearcats didn’t come away with the victory, their running backs moved the ball well on the ground again, with senior Dillon Williams rushing for 152 yards on 21 carries and adding the only two Grafton touchdowns. Sophomore Justin Spiker also provided a spark, rushing four times for 29 yards.
“We moved the ball again after changing our blocking schemes a couple of weeks ago a little bit,” noted Bord. “That’s two weeks in a row that we’ve moved the ball very well. I thought the offensive line did a great job and we ran the ball hard. Dillon ran well. Also, getting Justin Spiker back gave us some much-needed extra speed in the backfield and he ran well tonight also.”
Bord also praised his kicker, senior Joey Dingeldein, who was perfect on extra point attempts and punted the ball extremely well again.
“For the seventh week in a row, Joey did a great job kicking the football.”
The Bearcats (1-6) will be back in action on Friday, October 25th when they travel to Clarksburg for a 7pm contest against the Robert C. Byrd Eagles (3-4). The Eagles will come into the game having lost three straight and are coming off a 56-0 loss to Fairmont Senior Friday night.
“Next week we are going up against a wounded RCB team,” added Bord. “It’s a winnable game, these kids just need to come back and keep working hard and just keep getting better.”