Tradition hung in the air Friday as thick as the autumn fog hovering over Joe Eddie Cowley Field at Herbert Hoover.Before the game, the public address announcer ticked off several awards that the Huskies marching band had won at the recent majorette festival, and a homecoming queen was crowned at halftime.Then it was up to Hoover's football team to come through to complete the night, and it didn't disappoint, holding off Poca for its first victory of the season in a 19-16 decision. A sparse crowd attended the Class AA Cardinal Conference matchup at Falling Rock after rain moved through the Kanawha Valley most of the evening. Senior Cody Farmer returned the opening kickoff 77 yards for a touchdown to spark the Huskies (1-5) and the defense, which forced four turnovers, stood strong.
Hoover sophomore linebacker Colton Thomas dragged down Poca junior tailback T.T. Loudin for a 3-yard loss on fourth-and-goal from the 5-yard line with 10.1 seconds left in the game to seal the victory."I felt it just gave everyone a boost of confidence,'' smiled Farmer when talking about his kickoff return. "It got us fired up right away."That's what we wanted, get ahead and get going. We had a great practice week. We got our heads straight. Practices have changed. The fundamentals are getting better and we're working as a team now. We're starting to click.''The Dots (2-4), who have lost three straight, fumbled the ball away on their first two possessions but then took an 8-7 lead on Loudin's 11-yard scoring run at the end of the opening quarter. Poca extended it to 16-9 on junior quarterback Jake Payne's 24-yard TD scamper later in the second period.The Huskies were resilient, though, and closed to 16-13 at halftime when sophomore quarterback Tyler Americo found sophomore wideout Tim Hopkins drifting alone in the end zone for a 13-yard score with 17.3 seconds to go.Hoover freshman defensive back Tristan Hager intercepted Payne at the Huskies' 7-yard line on the Dots first possession of the third quarter.Huskies sophomore tailback Shaun Dotson, who finished with 130 yards, scored six plays later on the ensuing possession, ripping off a 68-yard TD burst as he shed two tacklers along the way to give Hoover the lead for good at 19-16 with 3:46 remaining in the third. Poca forced Hoover to punt on the possession, but the Huskies were given new life on a 15-yard penalty on the Dots for roughing the kicker.After that the Hoover defense took over, forcing Poca to turn the ball over on downs its final three possessions. Huskies senior Joey Forbes turned in five catches for 63 yards."Our kids played their butts off,'' said Hoover coach Tim Meyer. "They just went out there and had fun. It's great to see those kids enjoying themselves and working hard."They played four quarters and I'm proud of them. The coaching staff did a heck of a job. Defensive coordinator Steve Canterbury put together a great game plan and our kids executed. They just played a great ballgame.''Loudin finished with 120 yards while Payne turned in 114 yards, but the Dots couldn't overcome the mistakes. Poca committed seven penalties in the second half after having none in the first half.
"We didn't play with any spirit and enthusiasm,'' said Poca veteran coach Bob Lemley. "When it boiled down to it, Hoover wanted it worse than we did. I was disappointed in our execution. We were healthy enough tonight we just didn't play well.''Reach Tommy R. Atkinson at email@example.com
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