The Bottom Line
By Bill Nestor
Bridgeport edged Fairmont Senior 28-20 last Friday evening at Wayne Jamison Field to advance to the “Super Six” in Wheeling.
The Indians will be looking for a third consecutive Class AA Championship, a feat that has only been done once prior, by Poca in the early 2000’s.
After a scoreless first period of play, Bridgeport took a 7-0 lead on a 51 yard pass play. Signal caller Zack Spurlock made his lone completion count by hitting Dylan Tonkery to provide the halftime spread. Kicker, Koby Kiefer tacked on the first of four extra points in the affair.
The Tribe would strike first in the third quarter when Luke Southern would collect his third interception in the last two outings. Southern went 47 yards for the score to extend the hosts spread to 14-0.
The Polar Bears stayed with the passing game and it paid huge dividends. Quarterback Dominic Smith tossed a pair of scoring strikes to even up the score heading into the final frame.
Tonkery provided his second score of the game on a five yard run to help the Indians back into the lead. The defense added to the separation when Elijah Drummond picked off a pass and returned it 18 yards for a score.
Fairmont Senior would find the end zone on Smith’s third scoring toss of the evening, with just under three minutes remaining in the match-up. However, an onside attempt was controlled by Bridgeport and they proceeded to out the game on ice.
The rushing attack was, as usual, the bread and butter for the offense and it was spearheaded by Tonkery. The senior (and future West Virginia Mountaineer), garnered a game high 107 yards on 17 carries. Spurlock picked up 79 yards on 16 attempts. Dante Bonamico chipped in with 56 yards on 14 rushes.
Numbers always tell the story and during this play off push here are some interesting tidbits concerning the Tribe.
The biggest thorn in their side this season has been Fairmont Senior. The Polar Bears held Bridgeport to their two lowest point totals this year (35 in the ninth game of the campaign and 28 this week).
The Indians are a complete team that has utilized all three facets of the game (offense, defense, and special teams) to get the job done. In both of the last two playoff games, Bridgeport has been second in total yards (306-251 vs. Robert C. Byrd and 336-312 vs. Fairmont Senior) and in first downs (9-8 vs. the Flying Eagles and 7-16 vs. the Polar Bears).
Against Robert C. Byrd, the Tribe leaned on their special teams to get the job done. J.T. Harris provided several huge returns in the win. Harris scored his team’s first touchdown on a 91 yard kickoff return and provided multiple short field scenarios for his squad.
This past week it was the stoppers that rose to the occasion. Bridgeport’s defense scored 50% (14 of 28) of their points.
Excluding the 41-7 blowout of opening round opponent Independence, where the Indians fumbled seven times (losing five of those), the Tribe has been on top of the giveaway/take away stat. Bridgeport was a plus 1 versus the Flying Eagles (forcing three turnovers while committing two in the match-up). Even more impressive was their plus 3 effort against Fairmont Senior where they forced three turnovers and didn’t commit a single one.
The last team standing in the way is Tolsia. The Rebels blanked Mingo Central 22-0. Tolsia has not allowed a point in eight straight quarters. The Rebels are unbeaten in the state of West Virginia as their lone loss was a two point (34-32) setback to Boyd County, Kentucky.
That will do it for now. Until next week…take care and God Bless!