TENNERTON — The Buckhannon-Upshur High School Buccaneers football team welcomed the Preston County Knights to Freal “Red” Crites Memorial Field on Friday evening for Senior Night.
An emotional Coach Davis pulled his senior leaders in for a quick word before the game, thanking them for their efforts this season. Senior Night is always a highly emotional game, one in which each and every high school team in America circles on their schedule at the beginning of the year. It is tradition to try your best to send your senior class out as winners in the last home game of their high school careers. A proper send-off for their seniors was what the Bucs were fighting for Friday night against Preston.
The Bucs won the coin toss and opted to receive the ball to kick the game off. The Bucs got off to a slow start, going three-and-out on their first two drives, while the Knights came out of the gates hot, scoring a TD and field goal on their first two drives of the game, respectively.
The Bucs started their third drive of the night looking for answers on both sides of the ball. Offensively, the Bucs found their answer in the form of a 60-yard touchdown run by Elijah Bryant with 7:08 in the first quarter. That explosive TD run seemed to act as a spark for the Buccaneer defense, as they held strong on the next couple of possessions, not allowing the Knights to get anything going offensively for the rest of the first quarter. At the end of the first, the Bucs found themselves facing a manageable deficit, 9-7.
With the Bucs’ defense shutting down their running game, the Knights decided to test their luck passing the ball. Catching the Bucs’ defense off guard, the Knights got on the board again with a 30-yard TD pass with 10:58 in the second quarter.
Following the big play, the Bucs couldn’t seem to reestablish their running game, striking out on the rest of their possessions in the first half. At halftime, the Bucs found themselves trailing, 16-7.
The third quarter proved to be a defensive struggle between the two teams. Preston started the second half with possession, but after a penalty and a sack by both Gavin Brown and Dalton Crites, their drive stalled out, forcing them to punt.
The Bucs took possession following the punt, but after a loss of one on a run by Savion Farmer and back-to-back incomplete passes from Ian Donnen, the Bucs had to quickly punt the ball back to Preston. With both teams’ defenses playing sharp, there was no scoring by either team in the third quarter. At the end of the third, the Bucs were still hanging around, 16-7.
Preston started the fourth quarter by finishing a drive they had started in the last moments of the third, scoring on a 2-yard rush. That touchdown brought Preston’s lead to 23-7 early in the fourth.
The Bucs’ offense couldn’t respond, going three-and-out on several key drives in the fourth. After the Knights punched in another TD with 2:50 left in the game, it was all but over for the Bucs.
To their credit, the Bucs fought until the bitter end, putting together their best drive of the game on their final possession. This drive was capped off when Donnen found Sterlin Thropp streaking towards the end zone for an 18-yard touchdown pass.
The game ended with the Knights assuming the victory formation and taking a knee. The final score was 30-14, in favor of Preston County. The loss dropped the Bucs to 2-7 on the season, while the Knights scored their first victory on the season, improving their mark to 1-6.
While they didn’t secure a victory in their last game at Freal “Red” Crites Memorial Field, this senior class has nothing to hang their heads in disappointment about. They have had successful high school football careers and have formed relationships with teammates and coaches that will last a lifetime. This season might not have been the one they had dreamed of, but every senior on this team has contributed to building a solid foundation for the future of the Buckhannon-Upshur football program. Their leadership will allow others to follow in their footsteps and become leaders for this team in the years to come. This team is so close to putting it all together, which wouldn’t be the case without the tremendous leadership shown by the veterans on this young team.
The Bucs’ last game of the season will kick off this Friday night at 7:00 p.m. in Elkins. If the Bucs can beat Elkins, they can claim bragging rights over Route 33, having already beat Lewis County and Philip Barbour earlier this year.
PCHS – 9 7 0 14 – 30
B-UHS – 7 0 0 7 – 14
Buckhannon-Upshur – 60-yard TD run by Elijah Bryant
Buckhannon-Upshur – 18-yard TD pass from Ian Donnen to Sterlin Thropp
First Downs – 7 (4 rushing, 3 penalty)
Rushing Yards – 35-162
Passing Yards – 22
Passes – 3-10-1
Penalties – 5-35
Punts – 6-176
All-Return Yards – 8-120
Rushing – Savion Farmer 17-38; Elijah Bryant 7-73 (TD); Ian Donnen 6(-10); Zackery Mayle 2-3; Liam Garcia 2-25; Sterlin Thropp 1-33
Passing – Ian Donnen 3 for 10 for 22 yards (TD); Savion Farmer 0-1
Receiving – Sterlin Thropp 3-22