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Johnston’s 100-yard INT return seals win for Bucs

PHILIPPI – Last week, sophomore Bryson Johnston scored his first varsity touchdown on a quarterback keeper filling in for starting quarterback Ian Donnen in a loss to Ripley.

His second varsity touchdown might just be a little bit more memorable.

With the Bucs nursing a 21-16 lead and Philip Barbour moving the ball to the Buckhannon-Upshur 14-yard line with just nine seconds remaining, Johnston hauled in an overthrown ball by Philip Barbour quarterback Jesiah Matlick and returned it 100 yards as time expired to secure a 27-16 win for the Bucs.

“I have always dreamed of having a pick six,” remarked an exhausted Johnston after the game. “I love this moment right now. Playing on Friday night under the lights is so special to me.”

Johnston said knowing his interception helped the Bucs get the win made it even more special.

“It feels amazing to help this team get the win,” Johnston said. “We worked so hard all off-season for this and to be a part of it is amazing.”

The Bucs were sitting in a coverage two defense on the interception.

“Bryson was in the right place at the right time,” noted Buckhannon-Upshur head coach Zach Davis. “Corner back Liam Garcia knew that their wide receiver had run the slant pattern several times and he had the pass defended underneath. Bryson was overtop and got it and had the big touchdown return.”

The play also secured Davis’s his first win as head coach of the Buccaneers.

“For me, this is awesome,” an emotional Davis said after the game. “A moment like this is why you coach. You don’t get a feeling like this anywhere else in the world but on a football field.”

The game started as a back-and-forth affair. After the Bucs went three-and-out on their first possession, the Colts drove down the field and scored first on a 35-yard field goal by Grant Dadisman with 4:15 left in the first quarter.

The Bucs marched 57 yards in 10 plays and took their first lead on their next possession when Donnen called his own number and plowed ahead on a four-yard quarterback keeper. Cameron Zuliani’s kick was true as the Bucs took a 7-3 lead.

Philip Barbour scored on their next drive with Jesiah Matlick ending it on a 13-yard run. Layna Grass was good on the extra-point kick and the Colts took the lead back at 10-7 with 5:49 remaining in the second quarter.

After the Bucs took over at their own 21-yard line, it took them just two plays to find paydirt as Savion Farmer ripped off a 77-yard touchdown run with 4:42 showing on the second-quarter clock. It was the third 60-plus run for Farmer in just two games this season.

Zuliani was again good with her kick as the Bucs took a 14-10 lead, which was the advantage they owned going into the half.

The B-U defense forced a Colt fumble on their first drive of the third quarter and took over at the Philip Barbour 32-yard line. Six plays later, Farmer was into the end zone a second time on a nine-yard scamper giving the Bucs a 20-10 lead. Zuliani was perfect on her extra-point attempt and the Bucs owned a 21-10 lead with 7:59 left in the third quarter.

The Colts were back on the board with their first drive of the fourth quarter. Starting at their own 32-yard line, they went 68 yards in 11 plays with the drive capped off by a DeShawn Webster seven-yard run.

The Colts went for a two-point conversion which was good, but an unsportsmanlike penalty against Philip Barbour negated the two points and they decided to go for the extra point after the penalty, but the kick was wide left, leaving the Bucs up 21-16 with 7:19 left.

The Bucs then chewed up over six minutes of the clock giving the Colts the ball back at their own 20-yard line after a punt with 1:13 remaining. They moved all the way to the B-U 14-yard line before Johnston’s interception sealed the deal.

“Philip Barbour is doing an amazing job,” Davis said. “Watching them on film from last year to how they played tonight, they might be the most improved team in the state. My hats are off to them. That said, what a great job our guys did. I wish we could have punched it on that last drive, but we were good enough to milk the clock for six minutes. We have a tough group of kids. They just fight, scratch and claw and never give up.”

The Bucs were slightly edged by the Colts in total yards as the Bucs gained 245 yards while the Colts amassed 276 yards.

The Bucs gained 216 yards on the ground and 29 through the air. Farmer led all rushers with 159 yards on 21 carries. Elijah Bryant had 29 yards on eight carries for the Bucs.

Donnen completed two of his three passes for 29 yards. Sterlin Thropp caught one ball for 24 yards while Bryant had the other reception for five yards.

Webster led the Philip Barbour offense with 113 yards on the ground on 20 carries.

The Bucs, now 1-1 on the season, will make the long trip to Greenbrier East next Friday for a non-conference game. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.

The boxscore:

Buckhannon-Upshur 0 14 7 6 – 27

Philip Barbour 3  7  0  6 – 16

Philip Barbour – Grant Dadisman, 35-yard field goal.

Buckhannon-Upshur – Ian Donnen, 4-yard run (Cameron Zuliani kick).

Philip Barbour – Jesiah Matlick, 13-yard run (Layna Grass kick).

Buckhannon-Upshur – Savion Farmer, 77-yard run (Zuliani kick).

Buckhannon-Upshur – Farmer, 9-yard run (Zuliani kick).

Philip Barbour – DeShawn Webster, 7-yard run (kick failed).

Buckhannon-Upshur – Bryson Johnson, 100-yard interception return (no extra point attempted).


First Downs – Buckhannon-Upshur: 12 (8 rushing, 1 passing, 3 penalty); Philip Barbour: 16 (14 rushing, 2 passing, 0 penalty).

Rushing yards – Buckhannon-Upshur: 40-216; Philip Barbour: 34-192.

Passing yards – Buckhannon-Upshur: 29; Philip Barbour: 84.

Total yards – Buckhannon-Upshur: 245; Philip Barbour: 276.

Passes – Buckhannon-Upshur: 2-3-0; Philip Barbour: 7-17-1.

Fumbles – Buckhannon-Upshur: 3; Philip Barbour: 8.

Fumbles lost – Buckhannon-Upshur: 0; Philip Barbour: 1.

Punts – Buckhannon-Upshur: 1-37.0; Philip Barbour: 2-33.5.

Penalties – Buckhannon-Upshur: 2-15; Philip Barbour: 7-55.

All-Return yards – Buckhannon-Upshur: 143; Philip Barbour: 5.



Buckhannon-Upshur – Savion Farmer 21-159 (2 touchdowns); Elijah Bryant 8-29; Camden Snyder 2-11; Zach Mayle 5-9; Ian Donnen 2-4 (1 touchdown); Sterlin Thropp 2-4. Totals 40-216 (3 touchdowns).

Philip Barbour – DeShawn Webster 20-113 (2 touchdowns); Michael Salisbury 3-34; Jesiah Matlick 6-33; Ethan Floyd 5-12. Totals 34-192 (2 touchdowns)


Buckhannon-Upshur – Donnen 2-for-3 for 29 yards, 0 touchdowns, 0 interceptions.

Philip Barbour – Matlick 7-for-17 for 84 yards, 0 touchdowns, 1 interception.


Buckhannon-Upshur – Thropp 1-24; Bryant 1-5. Totals 2-29.

Philip Barbour – Floyd 3-24; Kaden Humphrey 2-55; Webster 1-7; Dylon Stewart 1-6. Totals 7-84.

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