TENNERTON – A tough start to the game left the Buckhannon-Upshur Buccaneers in an early hole and it was one they were never able to dig out of as they dropped a 30-14 contest to the Preston Knights Friday night at Freal “Red” Crites Memorial Stadium.
The Bucs lost 21 yards on their first possession of the game then fumbled the ball away which set up Preston’s first touchdown of the contest. Then, B-U fumbled away the ensuing kickoff which led to a Preston field goal putting the Bucs down by a 9-0 score with just 3:20 elapsed off the first-quarter clock.
“We make mistakes and Preston made some spectacular plays,” remarked a dejected Buckhannon-Upshur head coach Zach Davis after the game. “We had guys open and couldn’t hit them, we struggled with our passing game and our running game was okay at times, but we struggled there, too.”
The Bucs managed just 147 yards off offense getting 126 on the ground and 21 through the air.
Preston was able to control both the offensive and defensive lines of scrimmages as the Knights sacked B-U quarterback Ian Donnen seven times as he finished the game with negative 43 yards on eight carries.
“They were physically better than us up front,” stated Davis. “We have a ton of freshman and sophomores on the line and they don’t.”
Preston started two seniors, two juniors and one sophomore on their offensive line.
After the Bucs fumbled the ball away on their first possession handing it over to the Knights at the B-U 14-yard line, Preston scored in just three plays as Sheldon Miller took it over on a sweep from 13 yards out.
The fumble on the ensuing kickoff by the Bucs gave Preston the ball at the B-U 26-yard line.
The Knights had to settle for a 30-yard field goal by Cole Turner that gave them a 9-0 advantage with 8:28 left on the first-quarter clock.
The Bucs answered with a three-play, 65-yard scoring drive when Elijah Bryant broke free up the middle of the field and romped 55 yards for the touchdown.
Cameron Zuliani was good on her extra point as the Bucs were down just 9-7 with 7:08 remaining in the first quarter.
The game shifted all the way over to the Knights early in the second quarter.
Preston was facing a third down and 26 from the B-U 35-yard line when Preston quarterback Trevor Thomas found Miller in one-on-one coverage and threw the ball up to him in the end zone and he came down with it, giving the Knights the score with 10:58 left in the second quarter.
Turner was good with his extra-point kick making it a 16-7 game.
The game stayed that way until the first play of the fourth quarter when Ethan Harper scored from a yard out for the Preston touchdown.
Turner’s kick was good as the Knights took a 23-7 lead.
Preston scored again in the fourth quarter when Jacob Jennings ran it from two yards out with 2:20 left in the game.
Turner’s kick made it 30-7 in favor of Preston.
The Bucs scored on their final drive of the game, marching the ball 54 yards in six plays when Donnen hit Sterlin Thropp in the back of the end zone for a 17-yard pass for the touchdown with 37 seconds remaining.
Zuliani nailed the extra point making it a 30-14 contest.
Preston entered the game 0-6, but Davis said their record was a bit misleading.
“You look at their schedule and it’s been brutal with teams like University, Bridgeport, John Marshall, Washington and North Marion,” said Davis. “No disrespect to Lewis County or Philip Barbour, but if they have those two teams on their schedule they probably have two wins coming into this game like we did.”
The loss dropped the Bucs to 2-7 on the season heading into their season finale next Friday at Elkins.
“We still have work to do,” concluded Davis. “Now we have to go to prepare for Elkins.”
Preston 9 7 0 14 – 30
Buckhannon-Upshur 7 0 0 – 7 – 14
Preston – Sheldon Miller, 13-yard run (run failed).
Preston – Cole Turner, 30-yard field goal
Buckhannon-Upshur – Elijah Bryant, 55-yard run (Cameron Zuliani kick).
Preston – Miller, 35-yard pass from Trevor Thomas (Turner kick).
Preston – Ethan Harper, 1-yard run (Turner kick)
Preston – Jacob Jennings, 2-yard run (Turner kick)
Buckhannon-Upshur – Sterlin Thropp, 17-yard pass from Ian Donnen (Zuliani kick)
First downs – Preston: 10 (7 rushing, 3 passing, 0 penalty); Buckhannon-Upshur: 9 (6 rushing, 1 passing, 2 penalty).
Rushing yards – Preston: 35-153; Buckhannon-Upshur: 32-126.
Passing yards – Preston: 86; Buckhannon-Upshur: 21.
Total yards – Preston: 239; Buckhannon-Upshur: 147.
Passes – Preston: 5-16-0; Buckhannon-Upshur: 3-13-0.
Penalties – Preston: 11-92; Buckhannon-Upshur: 4-30.
Punts – Preston: 4-29.8; Buckhannon-Upshur: 4-32.0.
Fumbles – Preston: 2; Buckhannon-Upshur: 3.
Fumbles lost – Preston: 0; Buckhannon-Upshur: 3.
All-return yards – Preston: 6; Buckhannon-Upshur: 81.
Preston – Ethan Harper 18-99 (1 touchdown), Sheldon Miller 8-57 (1 touchdown), Dillon Taylor 1-8; Jacob Jennings 1-2 (1 touchdown); Ethan Likens 2-1; team 1-(-1); Trevor Thomas 5-(-11). Totals 35-153 (3 touchdowns).
Buckhannon-Upshur – Elijah Bryant 5-68 (1 touchdown); Liam Garcia 3-37; Sterlin Thropp 1-34; Savion Farmer 14-28; Zack Mayle 1-2; Ian Donnen 8-(-43). Totals 32-126 (1 touchdown).
Preston – Thomas 5-for-18 for 86 yards, 1 touchdown, 0 interceptions.
Buckhannon-Upshur – Donnen 3-for-12 for 21 yards, 1 touchdown, 0 interceptions; Farmer 0-for-1 for 0 yards, 0 touchdowns, 0 interceptions. Totals 3-for-13 for 21 yards, 1 touchdown, 0 interceptions.
Preston – Miller 3-53 (1 touchdown); Taylor 2-33. Totals 5-86 (1 touchdown).
Buckhannon-Upshur – Thropp 3-21 (1 touchdown).