POCA - In last week's blowout win over Sherman, Sissonville running back Trent Stowers racked up 144 yards on seven carries but was relegated to the bench at halftime along with most of the other starters.It left many Sissonville fans to wonder what Stowers could have ended up with had he played a whole game.That question was answered on Friday to the detriment of host Poca.Stowers rumbled for 259 yards and five touchdowns on 14 carries and added a 35-yard touchdown reception from quarterback Austin Crawford as the Indians (5-4) kept their Class AA playoff hopes alive with a 53-24 win over Poca on homecoming night at O.O. White Stadium.
"Trent stepped up and was a leader tonight," Sissonville coach Eddie Smolder said. "He gave great effort, but it wouldn't be possible without his offensive line that blocked for him hard and his fullback, Jarrett Mowrer. Trent's a great athlete and a great player, but it wouldn't have happened without those guys."Indeed, the line and Mowrer combined to open huge holes that led to long scoring runs of 56, 50, 59 and 45 yards for Stowers to go along with his 1-yard plunge in the second quarter.That same line also protected Crawford as the senior efficiently went 6 for 9 for 101 passing yards. He also engineered a key last-minute drive before halftime, connecting with Nathan Miller from 5 yards out with just 17.2 seconds left to put the Indians up 24-12 at the break.Sissonville ended the game with 445 yards of total offense on just 41 plays."I'm proud of the whole team, the whole team effort," Smolder said. "The guys have bought into what we're trying to do and we're getting better every week."Early, Stowers was just trying to keep up with Poca's T.T. Loudin after the Dots junior running back cashed in carries from 54 and 5 yards out on Poca's first two possessions and rolled up 95 yards on 12 carries in the first quarter.But Loudin was forced to exit after being injured and didn't return. While the Dots battled and were in the game until the fourth quarter, they just weren't as explosive on offense after the first frame."The doctors tested him for a concussion," Poca coach Bob Lemley said of Loudin. "He was carrying the ball and got hit and hurt his ribs, so he had a couple of things going there, so we took him out as a precaution."It makes it tougher offensively because we're limited on what we've got. We don't have a whole lot of numbers, and when the tailback comes out, it affects us a little bit."Still, trailing 37-24, Poca (2-7) had the ball deep in Sissonville territory with a chance to cut the deficit to a single score early in the fourth quarter. But Dots quarterback Tyler Payne was picked off in the end zone by Michael Hicks, leading to Stowers' final touchdown.A Tyler Shaffer interception and 56-yard return for a TD on the ensuing Poca drive ended the scoring.
Sissonville will host Braxton County (5-4) next week in what could turn out to be a playoff play-in game. Either way, it's likely that the Indians must win to get in, a fact not lost on Smolder or Stowers."We know if we beat Braxton County, we have a good chance to get to the playoffs and that's our goal," Smolder said. "Our goal is right in front of us, we've just got to go take it.""Even though this was a great win, we've got to forget about it and move on and start focusing on Braxton County on Monday because they're a pretty good team," Stowers said. Payne threw for 102 yards and two touchdowns and added 44 yards on the ground for Poca. Hayden Bailey ran 20 times for 57 yards after Loudin exited.Tyler Gibson caught a game-high six passes for 62 yards and a 9-yard touchdown while Bailey added a 40-yard scoring reception.Reach Ryan Pritt at 304-348-7948, firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow him at twitter.com/RPritt.