POCA — Poca running back Ethan Payne turned in another highlight-reel performance to power the Dots to a 68-8 victory against Logan Friday night at O.O. White Stadium.
Payne, a junior, carried 16 times for 274 yards with five rushing touchdowns, and he added a 50-yard touchdown reception to his accolades. Logan’s defense slowed Payne to 89 first-half rushing yards, but Payne scored on each of his first three second-half touches to put the contest out of reach.
“I thought the third quarter was the best quarter we’ve played all year long,” Dots coach Seth Ramsey said. “The second half, the offensive line and the backs, Ethan, they all picked it up, and I thought we got it going there in the third quarter.”
Poca led 27-8 at halftime and cemented the victory with 41 third-quarter points. In the third quarter, Payne scored on three consecutive touches with touchdowns of 43, 56 and 35 yards.
“I was a little slow the first half,” Payne said, “but we made some adjustments at halftime and came back out and I was able to get some blocks up there in the second half.”
In the first half, Logan (0-4) gave Poca (4-0) more fight than it might have expected.
The Dots scored twice before taking their second offensive snap, but Logan’s defense proved tough in the first half before Poca’s powerful running game overcame the Wildcats.
Payne scored on the team’s first offensive play, a 30-yard touchdown, and Ethan Miller returned an interception 40 yards for another score. At that point, it looked like the rout was on, but Logan’s defense stiffened in the first half.
“They were just whipping us off the ball,” Ramsey said of the Logan defense. “They were getting off the ball quicker than we were, they were more aggressive than we were. They were fitting their gaps well and they had a great game plan.”
The Wildcats responded with a 15-play, 72-yard drive, which was capped by quarterback Jordan Hayes’ 10-yard touchdown on fourth-and-8. With the successful 2-point conversion, Logan trailed 14-8 to start the second quarter.
On Poca’s next two offensive series, Logan forced an interception and turnover on downs, but the Wildcats could not manufacture any further offense to take advantage of their opportunities.
Payne and Poca began to turn the tide late in the second quarter. Payne scored twice in the final three minutes with a 13-yard run and 50-yard pass from quarterback Jay Cook.
“I think we come in with a good game plan every week and we hold to it in the first quarter,” Wildcats coach Jimmy Sheppard said. “We slowed [Payne] down a little bit, but he’s a great player. They primarily run to the strong side of their offense and we tried to overload it. We did pretty good when they ran that way, but when they would turn around weak side, we would give up a play. We just tried to take away what we could.”
The Dots defense continued to hold in the second half and did not allow any further points while Poca’s offense exploded behind Payne. In total, the Poca defense held Logan to 93 offensive yards.
“We flipped some things that we were doing up front,” Ramsey said. “We made some adjustments. I thought the biggest difference was their intensity and their effort.”
Poca next plays at Mingo Central at 7 p.m. Friday, while Logan hosts Winfield at 7:30 p.m. Friday.