By Carl Holcomb
The Yellowjackets nearly pulled off an upset in a chilly first round state football playoff contest, but No. 1 East Hardy thawed out its paws enough to survive and advance with a 14-10 victory last Friday.
There were six combined fumbles in the game as the ball was difficult to grasp in the frigid Baker temperature.[private]
“Those Spaulding balls are slick in the cold,” East Hardy Coach Chad Williams remarked.
Early in the first quarter there was a Williamstown fumble recovered by East Hardy’s Brett Tharp, however, the Cougars failed to take advantage of the miscue.
The Yellowjackets swarmed to a fumble by East Hardy’s Clay Skovron deep in the red zone which led to a 37-yard field goal with a minute left in the first quarter (1:01).
The Cougars converted a 3rd and 32-yard third down with a connection from Skovron to Tharp.
Skovron punched the ball into the end zone from one yard out with 17 seconds to go in the frame and Nick Miller added the extra point to give East Hardy a 7-3 lead.
Early in the second quarter, the Cougars struggled snapping the ball as it was fumbled twice in one drive and moments later the Yellowjackets’ Donathan Taylor intercepted the ball.
In the third quarter, Williamstown’s Carter Haynes intercepted Skovron leaping in front of Tharp.
The Yellowjackets created a score off the turnover as Donathan Taylor made a four yard touchdown run with 38 ticks on the clock to regain the lead, 10-7.
East Hardy’s hands were still frozen as Phillip Mullin fumbled the ball away in the fourth quarter, but the Cougars defense stood strong.
Tharp forced a fumble knocking the ball loose from Mullenix and Mullin recovered the ball leading to the game-winning touchdown.
Skovron found Tharp for a 34-yard touchdown strike with 5:53 remaining and Miller’s kick provided the 14-10 final score.
The last possession for the Yellowjackets ended with a fumble by Haynes which was recovered by East Hardy’s Casey Connelly and the Cougars burned the clock off taking a knee to finish the game.
East Hardy’s Brett Tharp surpassed the 1,000 yard receiving milestone in the victory, finishing the game with four catches for 117 yards with the game-winning touchdown for a total of 56 catches for 1,085 yards on the year.
Skovron made nine out of 18 pass attempts for 193 yards with one touchdown and one interception for a total of 142 of 258 passes for 2,453 yards.
Skovron was met in the backfield on a number of plays as Williamstown limited the running attack to 22 carries for 27 yards with one touchdown and allowed Mullin only eight carries for 23 yards.
Skovron was sacked several times which contributed to low yardage numbers,” Coach Williams noted.
East Hardy hosts Sherman in the state quarterfinals this Saturday at 1:30 pm. This will be the first time in program history these teams have faced each other and the Tide will test the run defense as two Sherman players have over 1,000 yards this season.[/private]