PAINTSVILLE, Ky. — Hurricane played just enough offense in the first half to grab the lead, and just enough defense in the second half to protect it.
Dakota Williams caught a pair of long first-half touchdown passes from Nathan Roy on Thursday night and the Hurricane defense made it stand up for a 17-13 victory over Paintsville in the Bluegrass State.
The game was moved up a day because of expected heavy rains and thunderstorms on Friday.
Hurricane (2-0) won despite gaining just 51 yards in the second half and nearly hamstringing itself with a series of bad plays. However, the Redskins defense more often than not held its ground, stopping the Tigers four times inside the Hurricane 40-yard line in the game.
“How about our defense? What a great job,” said Hurricane coach Jeremy Taylor. “That [Paintsville] team right there is one hell of a team. If they’re single-A in Kentucky, I don’t want to play another of those other [Kentucky 1A powers]. They’re a great team. A field goal and two long passes made the difference.”
Hurricane seemed to have the game in control after the Tigers (2-1) took the opening kickoff and drove 67 yards for a touchdown and a quick 7-0 edge.
The Redskins bounced back to lead 17-7 at the break, scoring on three of four possessions in one stretch — touchdown passes of 29 and 70 yards from Roy to Williams and Timothy McCutchen’s 36-yard field goal.
Roy hit on 8 of 10 passes for 136 yards in the first half, with three strikes to Williams for 103 yards.
However, Hurricane seemed intent on giving it all back in the second half.
Taylor elected to go for a first down on fourth-and-inches at his own 30 to start the second half, and didn’t make it. The Skins were also whistled for six second-half penalties, got off a pair of 16-yard punts and nearly lost a crucial fumble as they tried to work time off the clock.
Tyrese Allen, Paintsville’s senior defensive lineman and WVU commit, put a hard hit on Redskins running back Christian Hill with the ball on the Tigers’ 30 with 3:43 left in the game. The ball popped out and bounced around for a while before Hurricane fell on it.
That was the last bit of calamity, as Hurricane was able to erase the final 4:55 off the clock with three first downs. The Skins only had five first downs in the second half, and four of them came in the final 9:15.
“What a great way to end the game,” Taylor said. “We run a four-minute drill once a week in practice and all during the summer. You get three first downs and you win the game. Line up and pound the ball, and that’s what we did.
“But we tried to give it to them, too, me going for it on our own 30 like an idiot. We should have had that yard. That kills me. That’s my fault. Dumb play-calling there on that one.”
Paintsville was able to get within one score at 17-13 on a 4-yard touchdown run by Dalton Daniels with 1:06 left in the third quarter. That came a series after the Skins made a goal-line stand at their own 1, with J.T. Cooper swallowing up quarterback Jake Hyden on fourth-and-goal from the 3.
“They’re a good team,” said Paintsville coach Joe Chirico, “and you’ve got to give them credit. They played hard and we just didn’t make a play when we needed to. We weren’t good enough. We’ve got to get better.”
The Tigers, who have gone 46-10 since 2013 and rarely lose at home, had their offense humming in the first quarter, racking up 10 first downs and ripping off chunks of yards on the ground.
But they only picked up five first downs the rest of the way and were held to a net of 206 total yards. Daniels led the ground game with 105 yards on 24 carries, and fellow running back Tanner Smith threw a 23-yard option pass TD to James Allen.
“They’re well-coached,” Chirico said of the Redskins. “They’re going to make adjustments to stop the things we’re doing, and I just give them all the credit.
“We played hard, and I’m proud of my team. I’m proud of this small school. We’ve got 200 kids, 100 boys in our school and we’re playing the No. 9 team in the state of West Virginia. We battled. We just weren’t good enough in the end.”
Hurricane also found its stride on offense for a short while, moving 38, 78 and 41 yards on its three scoring drives. In hindsight, Taylor said he should have let Roy air it out more to receivers Williams and Curon Cordon.
“We thought they’d try to come out and man up on us,” Taylor said of Paintsville’s defensive backs, “and we should have went deep more, tried to throw it out there. I got conservative in the second half — I really did. We just tried to do stupid stuff.”
Roy ended up 10 of 14 passing for 143 yards. Hill, who carried almost exclusively during the four-minute drill that iced the game for Hurricane, finished with 24 carries for 84 yards.