GRAFTON— For the first time since being under the direction of head coach Bobby Beltner, who took over four years ago, the Taylor County Middle School (TCMS) football program is sitting at a perfect 5-0 record, with just three games remaining in their regular season of play.
This accomplishment comes after the teams most recent win on Wednesday night, at home against the Elkins Middle School Hornets.
The contest opened in favor of the Knights, as Troy Weber received the opening kickoff and rushed down field and into the endzone. However, because of a penalty called against TCMS, the touchdown was called back, and the Knights were brought back to their own 38-yard line to start the drive.
Penalties continued for the Knights, as a delay of game moved them back an additional five yards. Luckily, Taylor County was able to shake off the penalty calls, recomposing themselves and claiming a 60-rushing touchdown from Weber.
With a successful 2-point conversion attempt by Jaxson Hall, the Knights were quick to take the 8-0 lead, with 5:28 remaining in the first quarter.
Elkins went unsuccessful on their drive thanks to a tough TCMS defense, and the Hornets were forced to punt the ball away, where the Knights took over at their own 36.
The Knights once again wasted no time in making their way down the field and into the endzone. This time, it would be Kaden Keener claiming the TD for Taylor County, running it in from 62 yards out. Another successful 2-point by Weber advanced the Knights’ lead to 16-0.
The Hornets continued to have trouble holding off the defensive efforts of the Knights and lost possession of the ball with a fumble recovered by TCMS sixth grader Chace Kinsey.
This possession, however, would be the first empty one for the Knights, as they would turn the ball over on downs, putting Elkins back in control for a chance to close the gap.
With another empty possession from the Hornets, the Knights began another long drive, finally claiming the first down on a fourth and 19. Set in the position to score again, TCMS would fumble the ball, handing it back over to their opponent and would record their first turnover of the season.
Throughout the final minutes of the first half, neither team was able to create much ball movement and headed into the locker rooms with the score still sitting at 16-0.
The opening of the second half saw more penalties and little action as both teams failed to make it to the endzone during the eight minutes of action.
The Knights were finally able to end the scoring drought with 5:18 remaining in the fourth quarter, with a Hall TD following a long drive by TCMS.
TCMS failed to convert on the 2-point, but still had the comfortable 22-0 lead.
Although Elkins made a good effort and neared the red zone, the formidable Knights defensive refused to allow their runners to penetrate the endzone.
With just 1:59 remaining on the clock, and a long field ahead, Keener rushed for a 95-yard carry, securing the 28-0 victory over the Hornets, moving the Knights to 5-0.
“I am disappointed with the mental mistakes we made,” commented Beltner. “We had ten penalties in the game and turned the ball over for the first time all season. We’re glad to be 5-0, but we still need to clean some things up.”
He went on to give props to his defensive group saying, “Our defense was pretty darn good, so that is a bright spot.”
Next week, the Knights will be on the road, facing off with Buckhannon Middle School on Thursday, October 7.
“We have a tough game next week, so we will need to get the little things fixed,” said Beltner.
Individual player stats:
Kaden Keener: 13 carries, 210 yards, 2 TDs, 5 tackles, Troy Weber: 9 carries, 120 yards, 1 TD, 9 tackles, Jaxson Hall: 6 carries, 44 yards, 1 TD, 5 tackles, Chace Kinsey: 1 carry, 0 yards, Cole Runner: 3 tackles, Riley Humphries: 3 tackles.