PHS Upset Bid Falls Short as Highlanders Win 20-13
Game Pictures | Game Statistics
HUNTINGTON – Parkersburg won the statistical battle but lost the scoreboard war here Friday night as undefeated Huntington came away with a 20-13 victory thanks to big plays from a former Big Red and the Highlanders’ two first team all-staters.
The Big Reds out-gained the home team 320-248 in total yards, thanks mainly to 257 passing yards, and had a 19-11 edge in first downs while running 14 more offensive plays. But five turnovers killed the chances of a PHS upset victory over the now 3-0 Highlanders.
Terrance Tate, who played for the Big Reds last year before moving back to Huntington this year, scored on a 50-yard run in the first quarter and also had an interception on defense while all-state kicker Cason Kessinger booted two long field goals and first-team all-state teammate Ryan Gatrell not only led his team in tackles but came up with a drive-ending fumble recovery to thwart the Big Reds’ final chance to pull out the victory.
Junior Bradley Craig, thrust into the role of PHS starting quarterback when Ethan Airhart went down with a season-ending knee injury in the Big Reds’ opener two weeks ago, completed 17 of 33 passes for 257 yards and a touchdown but suffered two interceptions, one of which was returned for a 65 yard touchdown by Huntington’s Dionne Jackson with 4:33 left in the game. The yardage total was the eighth highest all-time at PHS for a single game.
PHS spread the receptions around with Easton Martin catching five for 90 yards while Karson Snyder caught five for 81 and freshman Brenton Strange caught four for 32 yards. Snyder had a touchdown from 14 yards out with 2:58 remaining in the game.
A 54 yard kickoff return enabled Huntington to get on the board just 91 seconds into the game when Kessinger kicked a 42 yard field goal and just seven plays later the home team had more points as Tate went 50 yards untouched around right end with 7:27 on the first quarter clock. Kessinger’s PAT made it 10-0 before the fans had a chance to get their programs open.
Following that touchdown, PHS put together a 10-play drive that reached the Huntington 10 yard line thanks to completions of 28 and 33 yards to Snyder and Brannon Turner respectively. But a sack by Gatrell and an incomplete pass forced the Big Reds to try a 33 yard field goal by Chase Minnite which was blocked.
The Big Reds got the ball back five plays later on a Noah Weaver fumble recovery at the Huntington 39 yard line and the visitors drove to the four yard line only to suffer two incomplete pass attempts and turn the ball over on downs.
The second half started with PHS driving 76 yards on 14 plays to score on a one yard run by Weaver behind the blocking of Issiah Gossett and Tyler White. That drive ate nearly eight minutes off the clock but the extra point kick was no good and PHS trailed 10-6.
Huntington put together its only drive of the second half, going from the 27 to the PHS 30 before settling for a 47 yard field goal by Kessinger to make it 13-6. The Highlanders did move to the PHS 24 with just over five minutes left in the contest thanks to a roughing the kicker penalty and a face mask infraction but this time Kessinger missed from 42 yards away.
A 29 yard completion to Martin put PHS near midfield right away following the missed field goal but Craig tried to go deep and was picked off by Jackson, who weaved his way around and through the would-be tacklers to score on a 65 yard play with 4:33 left to make it 20-6.
But it took PHS just over a minute and a half to score as Craig went to the air six straight times to move the ball to the Huntington 24. The big play was a 27 yard completion to Strange.
A defensive holding penalty put the ball on the 14 and Craig immediately found Snyder over the middle for the touchdown with 2:58 left to play. Minnite’s kick made it 20-13.
Forcing a three-and-out punt, PHS started from its own 22 and picked 11 on a run by Craig before the junior signal caller hit Martin with a 31 yard gain to the Huntington 36. Craig went back to pass again, only to have the ball stripped by a Highlander defender with Gatrell recovering to end the comeback attempt.
Parkersburg (0-2) 0 0 6 7 - 13
Huntington (3-0) 10 0 0 10 - 20
H – Kessinger 42 field goal, 10:29 1st
H – Tate 50 run (Kessinger kick) 7:27 1st
P – Weaver 1 run (kick failed) 4:09 3rd
H – Kessinger 47 field goal, 11:46 4th
H – Jackson 65 interception return (Kessinger kick) 4:33 4th
P – Snyder 14 pass from Craig (Minnite kick) 2:58 4th