Big Reds Open Season With 57-14 Drubbing of Host Red Dragons
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ST. ALBANS - As impressive as the Parkersburg Big Reds were on offense in their season opener they may have been even more impressive on defense against a St. Albans team led by a coach who is famous for his offensive prowess.
The result was a 57-14 victory for the Big Reds.
While PHS was putting 57 points on the scoreboard, the most in a single game since the 2010 season, the defense was holding St. Albans to under 100 yards in total offense and the first defensive unit of the Big Reds gave up only one touchdown.
Offensively the visiting Red and White rolled to 395 yards in total offense, getting 239 on the ground and 156 through the air as senior Ethan Airhart completed 11 of 14 passes with three of them going for touchdowns. PHS ran 52 plays to just 35 for the home team.
With Davey McNemar leading the way the defensive unit allowed the Red Dragons just 52 yards rushing and 43 passing for 95 total yards.
The offensive wealth was spread around with Airhart throwing two TD passes to Brenton Strange and one to Karson Snyder, who also scored on a 17 yard run. Rylan Hamilton had two touchdown runs for the Big Reds.
The Big Reds on their first possession of the game when Snyder made a spectacular catch on his knees in the end zone on a ball which was deflected twice by St. Albans defenders. Christian Axman then kicked the first of six straight extra points.
An interception by Bradley Craig gave the Big Reds the ball back just 10 seconds later and it took seven plays for PHS to cover 51 yards with Hamilton going over right guard for the TD with 2:59 left in the first quarter.
The second quarter produced little excitement although Hamilton did have a 21 yard touchdown called back and the Big Reds had to settle for a 27 yard field goal by Axman.
St. Albans got on the board with just over a minute left in the half thanks to a 40 yard kickoff return, a 19 yard pass completion and a 10 yard Big Red penalty. Jayson Barrett ran it in from the 11.
But a 22-yard kickoff return by Hamilton was followed by big gains of 14 and 11 yards by Martin and Airhart to help set up a 25 yard touchdown reception by Strange as time expired in the half. Strange caught the ball over the middle, cut back to his left and reached the end zone to make it a 24-7 contest.
Touchdowns came quickly in the third quarter for PHS as the Big Reds took the second half kickoff and scored in six plays as a 32 yard run by Airhart set up a one yard plunge by Craig.
Two plays later Airhart had an interception at the St. Albans 24 and two plays later Snyder scored from 17 yards away.
Down 38-7, a holding penalty put St. Albans in the hole and the Big Reds again made the home team pay as they took over at the Red Dragon 43 after a punt an da 22 yard run by Hamilton set up a 19 yard pass play to Strange, who broke away from a tackle to score his team's sixth touchdown.
In the fourth quarter against PHS reserves, St. Albans got on the board on a nine-play, 65 yard drive capped by a pass to Blake Thompson with just 3:47 showing on what had now become a running clock thanks to the 35-point mercy rule.
But on the ensuing kickoff, Cole Hanshaw grabbed a short kick and after running into his own man, he sprinted up the right sidelines for touchdown with 3:22 remaining for the game's final score on a night where the temperatures hovered in the mid-90's at kickoff with high humidity to match.