BLUEFIELD — For much of the second half on Saturday, the Bluefield College offense was able to move the football and put points on the board.
The problem: The Rams were down 41-7 when the rally began.
“Not the start we were expecting or wanting, but I felt like we responded,” Bluefield College head coach Ordell Walker said. “Certainly we didn’t finish the game the way we wanted, but we showed some fight in the second half.”
It was the first half that doomed the Rams to their 16th straight home loss, a 50-27 decision to Point on Saturday at Mitchell Stadium.
“We all talked about it because it is the first if we had won it in history so everybody’s mindset was let’s get the first one for history,” said Bluefield junior running back Adrian Pope, whose Rams last won a home game before the program was disbanded in 1941. “We will be all right, we are going to keep working.
“We have got another one next week. We are going to try to get it and make history next week. If we don’t, we are just going to keep working.”
Point (1-1), which allowed 73 points in a loss to Reinhardt last week, took advantage of three turnovers and a blocked punt, scoring four times on “explosive” plays of 75, 26, 84 and 90 yards.
“It is certainly very sweet to come up here and get a victory, obviously it was our first win of the year so we were real excited about that,” said Point head coach Mike McCarty, whose Skyhawks traveled nine hours from Georgia. “This was a very talented Bluefield team, we knew going in it was going to be really tough. We knew how well they run the football, we know how well they defended.
“We were just really excited to have that opportunity to play such a talented team. I think a lot of this Bluefield team and how I think they are going to go a long way.”
Point accumulated 444 of its 517 total yards in the opening half to build a 34-7 lead going into the break. An interception and fumble recovery helped the Skyhawks build a 20-7 lead after one period, including a 7-yard pass from Charlie Fortis to Isiah Long, and a 75-yard run to paydirt by Brandon Robertson.
Sam Bennett was able to put Bluefield on the board with a 41-yard run to narrow the margin to 13-7, but the Skyhawks would score the next three touchdowns on a 26-yard run by Christian Williams, a 1-yard plunge by Fortis and a screen pass by Fortis to Brandon Duckworth, who dashed 84 yards for another score.
“They had some huge, huge plays, we have to tackle better and get more hats to the ball,” Walker said. “We did a good job of keeping them from getting over the top, but they were able to take a couple of screens.
“I know a third and 7 down deep in their territory to score off that, that is kind of disappointing, things to fix.”
Bluefield (0-2) went into the break by 27 points, and trailed in total yardage 444 to 169. It got worst when Point picked up a loose fumble on the second play from scrimmage after the break, and pushed the lead to 41-7 on a 5-yard pass from Fortis to Williams.
The Rams finally got on the board again at the end of the third quarter when Denzel Cudjoe blocked a punt by Point’s David Strickland and Cory Mabry recovered in the end zone for the touchdown to narrow the margin to 41-14.
McCarty got a little uncomfortable after replacing Fortis with his backup after the Rams scored on two consecutive drives under the leadership of freshman quarterback Damen Daniel. Pope scored from 4 yards out, while Bennett added a second score from the 1 to cut the margin to 20 with 6:02 left in the game.
“A lot of growth, I am pleased,” said Walker, of Daniel, who replaced Terrell Hackney in the first quarter and remained at quarterback the rest of the game. “I felt like in the second half we could run our offense so I am really encouraged. It is tough to run our offense as a freshman quarterback, it is difficult, but he is definitely getting better.”
Any hopes of a miracle comeback for Bluefield was ended when Drake Presley’s extra point attempt after the Bennett touchdown was blocked, and returned by Kalen Newsome for a safety.
“That was a momentum switch, we really had it going. We feel like we are a good offense, we just can’t put the ball on the ground,” Walker said. “We make some mistakes that stops drives, but when we execute we are pretty good on offense.
“We showed some momentum, some things to build off of and we have just got to finish the drive on that (extra point), that was a big momentum changer.”
Point completed the scoring on the ensuing kick when Robertson returned it 90 yards for the touchdown. Robertson led the Skyhawks with 102 (unofficial) yards on the ground, while Danyale Wicker had 91. Fortis threw for 209 yards and two scores, with Duckworth had three receptions for 87 yards.
“We had a plan coming into it, we were just going to try to get it to our playmakers in a hurry and see if they could do something,” McCarty said. “The coaches don’t really do nothing but figure out ways to get them the ball and they have got to play it.
“Our guys did a great job, it was a very competitive game. I don’t know if the score indicates it, I know Bluefield had some turnovers, and it would have been a lot closer game if they hadn’t. That is a talented team, we are very fortunate to come up here and get a victory.”
Bennett led Bluefield with 111 yards on the ground, while Pope added 86 and Rodrell Smith finished with 77. The Rams completed just two passes for 38 yards. Gabe Spencer had an interception for the Rams.
“When we get a connection with each other we can’t be stopped, but we have got to keep working at it every day in practice and we have got to work it on the field,” Pope said. “When we get rolling, we can’t be stopped, but it is all good.”
Bluefield, which will play seven of its 11 games at home this season, will return to Mitchell Stadium on Saturday to host Faulkner, which was ranked 10th in the nation in the NAIA national poll heading into this weekend.
“It is hard, but I just feel like we have to sustain some things,” Pope said. “We have got to work on our mistakes, but other than that, I feel like we fight hard in the second (half), but before then we have got to work as a unit and stay as a team.
“We will going to be all right. We are going to fix it. We will be good.”
at Mitchell Stadium
Point.................................20 14 7 9 — 50
Bluefield............................7 0 7 13 — 27
PT-Isiah Long 7 pass from Charles Fortis (David Strickland kick) 9:28
PT—Brandon Robertson 75 run (kick failed) 8:38
BC—Sam Bennett 41 run (Drake Presley kick) 7:34
PT—Christian Williams 26 run (Strickland kick) 2:34
PT—Fortis 1 run (Strickland kick) 12:32
PT—Charles Duckworth 84 pass from Fortis (Strickland kick) 5:48
PT—Williams 5 pass from Fortis (Strickland kick) 13:01
BC—Cory Mabry blocked punt recovery in end zone (Presley kick) 2:13
BC—Adrian Pope 4 run (Presley kick) 12:21
BC—Bennett 1 run (kick blocked) 6:02
PT—Kalen Newsome returns blocked extra point for safety 6:02
PT—Robertson 90 kick return (kick blocked) 5:47
First Downs: PT 16, BC 21; Rush-Yards: 44-302. BC 78-349; Passing Yards: PT 215, BC 38. Comp-Att-Int: 14-28-1, BC 2-7-0. Total Yards: 517, BC 387. Fumbles-Lost: PT 1-0, BC 3-2. Punts-Avg: 7-40.6, BC 4-37.5. Penalty-Yards: PT 14-105, BC 3-20.
Rushing: Brandon Robertson 6-102, Danyale Wicker 10-91, Charles Fortis 11-50, Christian Williams 5-38, Ladarrius Mathis 3-18, Isiah Long 2-5, Dominique Moore 1-5, Anthony Mitchell 2-3; BC Sam Bennett 16-111, Adrian Pope 18-86, Rodrell Smith 8-77, Shane Milhorne 8-37, Quincy Mock 6-27 Marion Harris 3-14, Cory Mabry 1-10, Alex Martin 5-3, Damen Daniel 9-(-6), Terrell Hackney 3-(-14).,
Passing: Fortis 11-18-0-209-2; Damen Daniel 4-2-0-31-0, Terrell Hackney 1-2-0-7-1 int.
Receiving: Charles Duckworth 3-87, Connor Reed 1-37, Dominique Moore 2-31, Brandon Robertson 1-16, Rodel Shorter 3-5, Ricardo Sloan 1-15, Isiah Long 1-7; BC Cory Mabry 1-30, Corbin Cash 1-7.