TENNERTON – One game. Sixty minutes. Two entirely different halves of football.
For one half, the Buckhannon-Upshur dominated the Lewis County Minutemen taking a 17-0 lead into the halftime intermission.
In the second half, Lewis County flipped the switch and shutout the Bucs rallying for a 20-17 win, scoring the go-ahead touchdown with less than 30 seconds remaining in the Big 10 Conference battle Friday night at Freal “Red” Crites Memorial Stadium.
The Bucs moved the ball at will in the first half, racking up 169 yards of offense, but managed just 79 in the second half.
A key reason for the second-half drop-off was a pair of season-ending injuries to two two-way B-U starters.
“Injuries really got us in that second half,” noted Buckhannon-Upshur head coach Zach Davis. “It looks like we lost two more starters being out for the season. We were already without our starting quarterback, and now two more go down with injuries.”
After holding the Minutemen on downs at the B-U 36-yard line, the Bucs scored on their opening drive, marching 64 yards in nine plays, with the series ending on an 11-yard touchdown run by Bryson Johnston. Wyatt Mason was good on his point-after kick, staking the Bucs to a 7-0 lead with 3:00 left in the opening quarter.
B-U forced Lewis County to punt on their next possession and took over the ball at the own 27-yard line.
Nine plays later, they were in the endzone again on a four-yard scoring run by Daniel Hedrick. Mason was again good for his kick as the Bucs went up 14-0 with 7:08 remaining in the half.
Mason added to the Buckhannon-Upshur lead, sending home a 40-yard field goal as time expired in the first half, treating B-U to a 17-0 advantage.
Lewis County got on the scoreboard on their first drive of the second half after forcing B-U to a three-and-out.
Their first score was a 22-yard pass from Bryant Zielinski to Grant Acord with 8:04 showing in the third quarter.
The snap on the conversion kick was bobbled as B-U held a 17-6 lead.
After another Buckhannon-Upshur punt, Lewis County marched 66 yards in eight plays for their next score, a one-yard run up the middle by Brayden Carder.
B-U stopped the two-point conversion run, maintaining their lead at 17-12 with 2:06 left in the third quarter.
Buckhannon-Upshur moved the ball down to the Lewis County 16-yard line on their next drive but turned the ball over on downs with 8:31 left to play in the game.
“If we kick a field goal, it is still just a one-possession game,” noted Davis. “We were trying to win the game there. We get a first down and a potential touchdown, and the game is probably over. We had a good night running the ball, but they just beat us on that fourth and two play.”
Lewis County chewed up almost the rest of the clock with just shy of an eight-minute drive that resulted in the go-ahead score.
With 25 seconds left and facing a fourth down and three from the B-U four-yard line, Carder pushed his way into the end zone over the right side with 25 seconds remaining.
Drew Cayton’s two-point conversion run was good, making it a 20-17 contest.
With just 17 seconds remaining in the game, the Bucs managed just four net yards on their next possession as time ran out.
Lewis County piled up 329 yards of offense, with Carder leading the way with 150 yards on 30 carries and two scores.
Wyatt Morris led the B-U offense with 122 yards on 18 totes, while Johnson finished the game with 78 yards on 14 carries.
Lewis County improved to 4-2 on the year, while the Bucs dropped to 2-5.
Buckhannon-Upshur will be back on the road next Friday, visiting Oak Hill for a 7:30 p.m. start.
Oak Hill will enter the game with a 5-1 record after beating Greenbrier East 40-6 Friday night.
“We simply have to execute better in key situations,” concluded Davis. “We will put this one behind us and prepare for Oak Hill.”
Lewis County 0 0 12 8 – 20
Buckhannon-Upshur 7 10 0 0 – 17
Buckhannon-Upshur – Bryson Johnston, 11-yard run (Wyatt Mason kick).
Buckhannon-Upshur – Daniel Hedrick, 4-yard run (Mason kick).
Buckhannon-Upshur – Mason, 40-yard field goal.
Lewis County – Grant Acord, 22-yard pass from Bryant Zielinski (kick failed).
Lewis County – Brayden Carder, 1-yard run (run failed).
Lewis County – Carder, 4-yard run (Drew Cayton run).
First downs – Lewis County: 20 (17 rushing, 2 passing, 1 penalty); Buckhannon-Upshur: 16 (15 rushing, 1 passing, 0 penalty).
Rushing yards – Lewis County: 55-267; Buckhannon-Upshur: 41-233.
Passing yards – Lewis County: 62; Buckhannon-Upshur: 15.
Total yards – Lewis County: 329; Buckhannon-Upshur: 248.
Passes – Lewis County: 5-7-0; Buckhannon-Upshur: 2-8-0.
Penalties – Lewis County: 3-35; Buckhannon-Upshur: 5-35.
Punts – Lewis County: 2-25.0; Buckhannon-Upshur: 3-30.3.
Fumbles – Lewis County: 2; Buckhannon-Upshur: 1.
Fumbles lost – Lewis County: 1; Buckhannon-Upshur: 0.
All-Return yards – Lewis County: 22; Buckhannon-Upshur: 41.
Lewis County – Brayden Carder 30-150 (2 touchdowns); Owen Acord 10-61; Drew Cayton 11-47; Bryant Zielinski 4-9. Totals 55-267 (2 touchdowns).
Buckhannon-Upshur – Wyatt Morris 18-122 Bryson Johnston 14-78 (1 touchdown); Daniel Hedrick 8-33 (1 touchdown); Brody McDaniels 1-0. Totals 41-233 (2 touchdowns).
Lewis County – Zielinski 5-for-7 for 62 yards, 1 touchdown, 0 interceptions.
Buckhannon-Upshur – McDaniels 2-for-8 for 15 yards, 0 touchdown, 0 interceptions.
Lewis County – Grant Acord 2-52 (1 touchdown); Cayton 3-10. Totals 5-62 (1 touchdown).
Buckhannon-Upshur – Ian Strader 1-8; Carter Zuliani 1-7. Totals 2-15.