Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

College Sports

August 26, 2012

'W' would have been 'nice' for Rams

Firsts noted in BC's 'modern era'

BLUEFIELD — The historical milestone would have felt better with a “W” in the won-loss column.

That was the consensus Saturday afternoon of several Bluefield College football players after the school’s first football game since 1941.

Quarterback Greg Hampton said, “If we could win the first game, that would have been nice. Since 1941? It’d have been nice.”

There was no escaping the history. The year of the last BC football team was on a sticker attached to each of the Rams’ helmets.

Freshman running back-returner Marion Harris said, “I saw 1941 on our helmets and I thought, ‘Wow, that’s a long time before football came back. That was a long time ago.’ ”

Among the firsts for “the modern era” of Bluefield College football:

• First kickoff return — Harris, for 14 yards to start the game.

• First carry — Harris, for 1 yard up the middle moments later.

• First touchdown pass — Hampton, 11 yards to tight end Matt Hollandsworth, with 3:03 left in the first quarter.

• First extra point — Mikel Hawks, a 2012 graduate of George Wythe High School, whose boot gave the Rams a 7-0 lead.

• First fumble recovery — defensive lineman Jonathan Toe, a transfer from Georgia Southern University, in the first quarter.

• First interception — safety Morris Mitchell, early in the second half.

Harris said about the start of the game, “I was kind of nervous, ’cause I’m a freshman. I just didn’t want to mess up. I wanted to do [well] for my team and my coaches.”

He had an up-and-down game. Early in the second quarter, he chose to catch a kickoff at the edge of the field but after doing so, his momentum carried him across the sideline at his own 4 yard-line.

His next return was about 45 yards, crossing midfield and setting Bluefield up in good field position for its second score, tying the game 14-14.

The initial touchdown almost didn’t happen because of hits at both ends of the play.

Hampton rolled to his left after the snap and came face to face with an unblocked defensive end. The quarterback back-tracked and let the ball go an instant before he was slammed to the ground.

Hollandsworth was also leveled, moments after he caught the ball in the air above the end zone, but he held on and BC got its first touchdown since Richard “Dick” Bogdan scored on Nov. 20, 1941, in a 30-7 win over Rio Grande College.

Hollandsworth said he was on the back side of the play, and was not the prime receiver. He said, “I didn’t really think anything would turn up, but it opened up, and Greg hit me really good.”

“It was a big boost. We were all waiting for the first guy to score, and things just panned out, and I was that guy.”

Hampton said, “It was a relief, finally got the first one out of the way.”

Harris said the touchdown “got me even more pumped up to play, to run the ball more, to show that we could score.”

Harris said about Hampton, “[He’s] just got to get the rust off. But for his first game, I think he did, overall, pretty good.”

He said he and the quarterback work “every day” in practice to get the timing down for the passing game. “I knew he could do it, because he did it every day in practice,” Harris said. “I believe in him. I believe he can do it.”

Hampton said, “We’ve just got to get everything together. Once we get everything together, we’re going to win.”

“The interceptions and stuff, that’s going to go away. We’ll capitalize, change the mistakes.”

Hollandsworth said about Hampton. “He always makes good reads in practice; that’s why Coach always puts him first. Taking nothing away from the other quarterbacks, they’re all great as well.”

“But Greg’s the guy to start, to get it done.”

Hollandsworth was a receiver, quarterback and baseball player at Floyd County High School until this summer. He said, “I’ve never played tight end before. So this is all new to me. It was a great atmosphere, [with the] fans coming out. It was great.”

“We’ve scrimmaged each other twice already,” Hollandsworth said. “We’ve been beating up on each other for going on three weeks now, and to hit somebody else feels real good.”

After the touchdown, the Rams got the ball back when Toe forced a fumble and recovered the ball on the synthetic turf.

Toe said, “I saw the running back come straight through the ‘A’ gap and I just threw my fist at [the football], and it popped right out. I saw it, I just dropped on the ground and picked it up.”

“That’s what my coaches teach me.”

He said he didn’t have any second thoughts about transferring to Bluefield College from Georgia Southern.

“I knew what I was getting myself into,” he said. “This is college football, and I love it. The coaches have prepared us well for this. I was ready.”

With the score tied 21-21, Mitchell ended Pikeville’s first drive of the second half by leaping high for a pass in the middle of the field.

He said, “It was just a big moment for our team. It just uplifted our defense, and lifted us up for the second half, and we were just trying to build off of that.”

“It was a great honor to be able to get that first interception in almost ... 71 years.”

“We were in man-to-man, and I was in the deep middle at free safety. And the quarterback just threw it up, and I just wanted it more, and I went to go get it.”

Mitchell said about the Rams’ secondary, “As a group, you know, we could do better with tackling, but coverage-wise, I feel like we did what we had to do, against the odds that we had.”

“As a team, we can pick it up, we can do a lot better, as a team on defense, but in the secondary we’ve got to pick it up as well.”

Toe said, “The first half went pretty good. We’ve just got to work on the little things. It was the little things that beat us. I feel like we just went out there and beat ourselves, so we’ve got to go back and start working on those little things and get better at it.”

He said that he “felt conditioned” for the four quarters of work, but that late in the game, “We just had too many missed tackles. Too many missed tackles and you lose the game.”

Asked about the defensive front, he said, “We did a great job. They worked hard. They wanted to win. It was just little plays, little mistakes. Lining up wrong. Wrong alignments. Little stuff like that. ... But I know they were hungry out there, they wanted to win this game.”

Hampton said he felt the “excitement” from the crowd on hand.

“I didn’t expect it to be like that,” he said. “I don’t know how many people were out there, but it was a nice crowd.”

 Mitchell said he was honored by the size of the crowd in the stadium. Mitchell said, “I’m glad everybody came out to support us. I didn’t know what to expect. This was my first college game. ... I’m just glad that we were able to get a fan base, and hopefully they’ll be back next week.”

Hampton said, “We’re disappointed and everything, but we’ve got 10 more games left. We’ll focus on that now [with the] first game out of the way.”

Toe said, “Nineteen forty-one was the last time they had football here, so I wanted to come out here and give a good game, and I wanted my team to win. But it didn’t happen.”

— Contact Tom Bone at

tbone@bdtonline.com

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