The Bottom Line
By Bill Nestor
This is the time of year when football teams either play their way into or out of post season contention. It is make or break time and even though games this time of year count the same in the record books as previous ones, they carry much more pressure with them. Players, coaches, and fans all know that it is the win or go home scenario from this point on. Three county teams earned wins this past week that helped to either solidify a spot in the playoffs or put them in the driver’s seat for an extra game.
Bridgeport has been hovering around the top of the Class AA ranking all season. The Tribe took to the road and downed a talented Keyser team 24-13. The old saying that great teams find a way to win definitely applies in this contest. The Indians were on the short end of the stick in first downs (Keyser 14 – Bridgeport 11) and total yards (Keyser 249 – Bridgeport 201). Also, for the first time this year they found themselves trailing heading into the fourth quarter of play (13-3). What did the visitors do? They turned to signal caller, Gordon Swiger and he scored three touchdowns while the defense blanked the Golden Tornado in the final frame to earn the come from behind win. The victory kept Bridgeport undefeated and sets up a huge matchup with Fairmont Senior this Friday. The Polar Bears have just one loss on the season and the winner will more than likely own home field advantage throughout the playoffs. It is the regular season finale for the Tribe and it will be played at East-West Stadium.
Lincoln took to the road for the last time in the regular season and defeated Grafton 33-6. The Cougars jumped out to a 20-6 halftime lead and didn’t look back. Lincoln scored all four of their offensive touchdowns on the ground. Quarterback, Kobie Carpenter, found paydirt on runs of 13 and 15 yards while running back, Hunter Moore found the end zone on scampers of three and one yard respectively. The defensive unit got into the act when Dustin Marks intercepted a pass and went 72 yards for the game’s final score.
The victory was the third in a row for Head Coach, Rob Hawkins and company. They close out with Robert C. Byrd this week and North Marion the following; both outings will be played in Shinnston.
Liberty upended Richie County 42-14 to stay in the top 16. The Mountaineers rushed for five scored (three for Broderick Lantz and two for Dalton Westfall) and threw for another (Seth McKinney to Robert Gibson) to claim their fifth win in the last six games. Liberty has this week off before hosting Grafton in the season finals. If they can defeat the Bearcats, they would make the playoff scene.
Speaking of big wins, West Virginia continued to garner national attention with their 34-10 trouncing of TCU this past Saturday. It was the worst Big 12 loss for the Horned Frogs since they joined the conference.
All four Mountaineer touchdowns came in the air as signal caller, Skylar Howard tossed a personal best hat trick plus one in the win. Howard continued his standout play in the biggest leadership role on this squad. Howard did all of his damage without a single misfire (zero interceptions on the nite).
The defensive unit was impressive as well holding TCU scoreless in the second half and ten points below their previous low point production of the season.
All of this came on national television which has at least three major positives for Head Coach Dana Holgorsen. First, it propels his group up the rankings. Second, it opens doors down the road of potential recruits that viewed the events. Third, it takes a little pressure off of his back and puts it on Oklahoma and Baylor, both of which have to come here to play.
That will do it for now. Until next week…take care and God Bless!