GRAFTON—Whether James Hoskins wore #18 or #40, the result was the same. The sophomore running back ran hard, ran fast, and did both of them so much that he overexerted himself to the point of needing to come out of the game in the first half to cool down and switch jerseys.
“I thought I was gonna have a heat stroke or something and pass out,” Hoskins said half-jokingly. “I had to change my jersey because the other one was completely soaked through.”
The speedster eventually recovered and finished the game with 168 yards on only 15 carries and 2 touchdowns, one of which came on a dazzling 77-yard run with 3:56 left in the first quarter to give Grafton a 14-0 lead.
Hoskins was also named the Arch Coal Bowl MVP, an award given annually to the game MVP between the two rival schools. Grafton and Philip-Barbour have played each other during Week 1 every season since 2001.
“The difference in the game was Hoskins’ speed and our skill kids making plays,” said Grafton head coach Rich Bord. “When James came out, we didn’t run the ball particularly well. You saw the spark go away, and it didn’t come back until we put him back into the ballgame. We limited him and put him on one side of the ball and he ran the ball well.”
One of those skill players Bord was referring to was senior quarterback Logan Beltner.
The senior signal-caller completed 4/5 pass attempts for 103 yards and 2 TD’s of his own. One of those TD’s was a spectacular 87-yard bomb to senior Hunter Simmons with 3:46 left in the third quarter to give the Bearcats a 20-9 lead after a GHS failed extra point attempt.
“Logan was able to find Hunter on the backside and he was wide open,” Bord explained. “He just outran the kid.”
Also seeing time at QB during various series of the game was sophomore Tanner Moats. The young QB also held his own, and Bord was complimentary of both of his players who saw time behind center.
“Logan was hot so we left him in there,” Bord went on to say. “But even after Moats threw that early interception, I thought he did fine. Both of our quarterbacks threw the ball well.”
But more concerning to Bord were the various flags thrown on the Bearcats throughout the game, including multiple block-in-the back penalties and various other infractions which occurred on crucial plays throughout the contest.
“Those were very frustrating,” said a displeased Bord. “They kept us down in a hole in the first half. It limited what we could do offensively.”
However, the Bearcats were also the beneficiaries of four Philip-Barbour turnovers to help them regain the momentum. Two recovered fumbles, one in the first half and one in the second half, and two interceptions by senior Braeden Nose, kept the Bearcats in control throughout the game.
Philip-Barbour, on the other hand, struggled to get going offensively for most of the game.
They were limited to 75 yards of total offense, all on the ground. Also working against them was the fact that the Colts only suited up 24 players for the contest. Bord was complimentary of the challenge that the Colts still brought to his Bearcat squad.
“I was very impressed with the way Philip-Barbour played with the few kids they had. They came out, got after us, and whipped us up front.”
Leading to the attack for Philip-Barbour was senior Thomas Knight. The 6’0, 155-pound athlete rushed for 52 yards on 19 carries, returned an interception for a touchdown, and also punted the ball five times, including a 59-yarder on the second series in the second quarter.
“We have nothing to hang our heads over,” said Philip-Barbour head coach Russ Collett. “We played with a lot of effort and I’m proud of them for that.”
The Bearcats will return to action on Thursday, September 5, as they head to East/West Stadium in Fairmont to challenge the East Fairmont Bees. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:00 p.m.