HUNTINGTON - Winfield didn't come close to knocking Huntington off its hilltop perch Friday night, but coach Craig Snyder's team could claim some consolation.Snyder wasn't doing cartwheels of joy over the Generals' 21-3 loss, but his disposition was sunnier than his counterpart."We have come a ways in the program," said Highlander coach Billy Seals. "But I tell you what: We just didn't play very good. And give credit to Winfield, I thought they played well tonight, and I'll take full blame for our performance."It wasn't good enough, and that all starts with me. We had a bad week at practice; I warned the kids that the way you practice is the way you're going to perform on Friday night, and you know what? That starts with me."
Seals wasn't pleased with his team's first half, even though the Highlanders romped to a 21-3 lead. After Aaron Sadler's 32-yard field goal gave the Generals (1-2) a 3-0 lead, Huntington (3-0) answered with three rapid-fire drives to set the halftime score.The first scoring drive went 74 yards on six plays, with Donte Hendricks scoring on an 18-yard run. The second went 58 yards in five plays, bolstered by Mark Shaver's 24-yard pass to Jarod Martin. Brandon Morrison covered the final 7 yards.Clark Wilson set up the final drive with his interception of Winfield passer Toby Show, with a 29-yard return to the Generals' 18-yard line. Four plays later, Shaver scored on a quarterback sneak with 6:16 left in the first half.The game shaped up to be a blowout, but a funny thing happened: The score remained frozen the final 30 minutes. And before you knew it, the game was over - so economically, it ended at 9:35 p.m.Winfield adjusted to the Highlanders' speed and moved the ball well in the second half. The Generals just couldn't score, fumbling one good chance inside the Huntington 10."I knew it would probably take awhile to adjust to their athleticism," Snyder said. "They're also physical - their fullback's good, and the timing of their offense just makes it difficult. Defensively, it's the same thing."We moved the ball well, Seth [Lewis] ran the ball well, Toby threw the ball well. We had some protection issues but we overcame those. I felt we couldn't finish; we shot ourselves in the foot a few times."But Huntington shot first after halftime, driving from its 20 only to fumble at the Winfield 2. Lewis jumped on Christian's fumble, giving the Generals the ball on their 9 after consecutive personal fouls on both teams.Winfield, held to four first downs in the first half, picked up six on the ensuing drive. Show hit 7-of-9 passes on the march, leading the Generals to the Highlanders' 9.After Lewis was thrown for a 2-yard loss, Show kept it on second and goal. As he was approaching the 5-yard line, he left the ball too far from his body, and it hit the ground. Matt Shaver fell on it for Huntington."I felt like, golly, we get that one in and maybe get a stop and get some momentum," Snyder said. "We felt like we were moving the ball well. ... Yeah, too many mistakes."
A suddenly inspired Generals defense forced a three-and-out and Jarod Martin was forced to punt out of his own end zone. Undaunted, he blasted the ball over the returner and it traveled 61 yards.Suddenly starting from its 33, Winfield drove to the Huntington 17, but a first-down holding penalty derailed the drive. It ended on fourth-and-21 when Show threw his second interception."Jarod Martin was first-team All-MSAC last year as a punter," Seals said. "He got us out of the hole."Show had a solid day, though, completing 24 of 39 passes for 156 yards. Chris Turner caught nine of those for 73 yards and Lewis had eight receptions for 27. Lewis added 76 yards on 19 carries.Mark Shaver led the Highlanders' 253-yard rushing attack with 91 on 11 carries. Christian added 68 on 14 carries, while Hendricks had 57 on six attempts. Martin caught two of Mark Shaver's completions for 47 yards.Huntington was without two top backs - Charles Crawford did not dress, and Nick Tubbs went out on the first play from scrimmage. Sophomores Hendricks and Morrison had to pick up the slack, as much as they could.
"We've got to quit committing silly turnovers in the red zone," Seals said. "That's just lack of focus, and we've got to quit doing that. If we don't do that, one of these weeks - or next week, going up to Parkersburg - it's going to bite us on the butt."Reach Doug Smock at 304-348-5130, firstname.lastname@example.org
or follow him at twitter.com/dougsmock.