By BOB REDD
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
“I don’t know if words can explain it. You had t see the look on their faces. They’ve been working hard for this,” commented PikeView head coach Bobby Wyatt after the Panthers defeated Independence 9-6, ending PikeView’s 19-game losing skid and giving Wyatt his first victory at PVHS.
“These kids went through it last year, believing in what I was doing, believing in me. Fortunately tonight we were able to make a play late that benefited us.”
It appeared that PikeView was going to take the early lead when Joseph Jennings returned the opening kickoff 80 yards for an apparent score. A block in the back, however, on the Patriots’ 10 yard line nullified the touchdown and gave the Panthers a first down at the Indy 20. After four plays PikeView turned the ball over on downs, failing to convert on fourth and seven from the 17.
The Patriots used nine plays to drive from their 17 to the Panthers’ 14. On their first play from scrimmage Dustin Justice rambled 40 yards into PikeView territory, but the remaining plays were short gainers. The drive ended when Ethan Donley pounced on a fumble by Chance Rhodes at the 14.
After punting the ball to the Patriots, the PikeView defense forced a three-and-out. With the ball back, Chris McBride connected with Takota Bailey on a 40-yard pass play that took the ball down to the Independence 12. A motion penalty moved the ball back to the 17 and Alex Testerman’s 30-yard field goal attempt sailed wide left and the game was scoreless early in the second quarter.
The Panthers’ defense forced three-and-outs in each of Independence’s next two possessions before getting the ball back midway through the second quarter at their own 37 and embarking on another drive. PikeView used seven plays and marched to the Patriots’ 29 before turning the ball over on downs at the 30.
It took Independence one play to take the lead as Justice took the handoff over right guard, cut it outside and raced 70 yards for the game’s first score. Robert Cuthbert’s extra point kick failed.
PikeView’s offense sputtered and Independence got the ball back at its own 35 with just over a minute left before halftime. Colton Ward broke off an 18 yard run to move the ball into Panther territory and a flea flicker completion of 29 yards from Brian Sexton to Rhodes carried the ball to the 15 as the first half clock expired.
The teams exchanged punts in the third quarter but did not put any digits on the scoreboard.
Momentum swung PikeView’s way early in the fourth when Greg Butler pounced on an Indy fumble at the Patriots’ 41. Failing to get a first down, PikeView’s Testerman punted to the two yard line. Again the defense rose to the fore, forcing a three-and-out. The snap to the punter in the end zone was high and he stepped on the end line, giving PikeView a safety with 6:33 left in the game.
On the ensuing free kick Danny Brown returned the ball from his 40 to the Independence 20. PikeView drove and had a fourth and goal from the eight, but the pass from McBride to Bailey was ruled out of bounds and the Patriots got the ball at the eight.
Another three-and-out by the PikeView defense and a short punt gave the Panthers the ball at the Patriots 25 with 1:52 to play. McBride passed to Roberts at the one for a first down and then Brown ran around right end for the score with 1:13 left in the contest. Testerman’s extra point was good to make it 9-7.
PikeView sealed the victory when Jonathan Jennings intercepted a Sexton pass at the 42 with 40 seconds left in the game.
“These kids are so resilient,” Wyatt said. “We found out that it’s just not getting down there, you’ve got to dig deeper to get in. We were resilient enough to stay with it, come up with the plays when we needed it and come away with a nicely deserved victory.”
Independence coach Chris Vicars said, “ Our kids played their butts off, they played hard. I’m going to take the blame for that one. We weren’t prepared to the point we needed to be. Our defense played outstanding. I thought they played really well. I can’t fault their efforts.”
Hunter Moses led PikeView in rushing as he carried the ball 20 times for 92 yards and McBride completed 4-of-18 passes for 74 yards.
Justice led Independence with 99 yards on 12 carries and Sexton was 4-of-9 for 75 yards. Each quarterback threw an interception.
PikeView travels to Liberty Raleigh next week, while Independence takes on Greenbrier West.
At PikeView High School
Independence (1-1)................0 6 0 0 — 6
PikeView (1-1).........................0 0 0 9 — 9
IHS - Dustin Justice 70 yard run (kick failed), 2:35
PVHS - Safety, punter stepped out of the back of end zone, 6:33
PVHS - Daniel Brown 1 yard run (Alex Testerman kick), 1:13