Chapmanville senior quarterback Chase Berry and running back Josh Bumgarner both admitted that starting the season 0-3 was a bit surprising and frustrating, but giving up wasn’t an option.
Unfortunately for Nitro (1-3), Berry and Bumgarner took their frustration out on the Wildcats on Friday night.
On the first play from scrimmage, Berry connected with Waylon Hensley on a quick pass, Hensley outran multiple Nitro defenders for a 57-yard touchdown and Chapmanville never trailed as it routed host Nitro 48-25 at Underwood Field.
“We trusted the play that our coaches called,” Berry said. “I trusted my line up front and I was able to make the right read. Waylon [Hensley] got some good blocks downfield and it seemed like it all came together from that point.”
Berry did the majority of his damage in the first half, connecting on 10 of 12 passes for 146 yards and two touchdowns and rushing for another touchdown on a 21-yard scamper unscathed. For the game, Berry finished the game 13 of 15 for 191 yards and three touchdowns, while rushing for 99 yards on 11 carries and two touchdowns for the Tigers (1-3).
“It’s been a tough start to the season,” Berry said. “But this team just keeps fighting and every week we continue to get better.”
“Our motto is ‘Family,’’’ Bumgarner added. “We didn’t let the 0-3 start break us. We were able to stay together as a family.”
Bumgarner, who ran with a Mike Alstott-like punishing style, played the role similar to that of a closer in baseball, as he finished with the game with 132 yards rushing and a touchdown, with 82 of those yards coming in the second half on just 10 carries.
“My motto is to keep your head down and keep running and get what you can get,” Bumgarner said. “I had one fumble but I didn’t let it affect me. I just kept running hard and lunged forward no matter what.”
Bumgarner atoned for his fumble when he recovered a Nitro fumble in the third quarter.
While the end result may have surprised some in the stadium, Chapmanville coach Rob Dial wasn’t surprised.
“First and foremost, I think our first three opponents were pretty good,” Dial said. “I really want to praise our players and coaches. We come to work every day. We practice hard and get better every day in practice.
“In the past two or three years, we have been slow out of the gate, but we start to get better each game. Hopefully we are at the part of the season where we have more wins than losses.”
In the previous three games, the Tigers accounted for just 28 points.
The Wildcats had back-to-back opportunities on their opening drive to tie the score but they had consecutive drops on would-be touchdowns.
“We dropped three touchdowns tonight,” said Wildcats coach Zach Davis. “It’s unfortunate, but we have to keep coaching and get better. We have a sign in the locker room that says ‘Through this door walks the finest men in West Virginia.’ I told them I loved them and we will get this fixed.”
After trailing 14-0 on a 21-yard run by Berry, the Wildcats struck paydirt on a 71-yard bomb from Trevor Lowe to Anthony Jackson, who sprinted past a Tigers defender and made an over-the-shoulder catch. The Wildcats also scored on a Dallas Hazelett 31-yard pass from Lowe sandwiched in between Tiger scores on a Jaxson Turner 2-yard run and a 31-yard touchdown pass from Berry to wide open Brody Dalton, which was set up by a facemask penalty with 48 seconds left in the half to give the Tigers the ball on the Wildcats 21.
At the half, the Tigers led 28-13.
Lowe led the Wildcats with 139 yards passing and two touchdowns, while rushing for 108 yards and a touchdown, that coming as time expired.