MADISON — Poca’s football team used multiple weapons to surge past Scott Friday night and notch its eighth win of the season with a convincing 45-6 rout in a Cardinal Conference game at Skyhawk Field.
The Dots, ranked No. 2 in Class AA, were without standout sophomore running back Ethan Payne, who suffered a hip injury two weeks ago and is lost for the season. Poca (8-0) came into the contest with the leading rushing offense in the Cardinal, mainly due to the efforts of Payne’s 1,083 yards and 17 touchdowns through seven games.
“We feel like we’ve got a good roster and we have guys that can make plays on the outside and in the slot,” said Poca coach Seth Ramsey. “We’re not a one-man show or a one-trick pony.”
The Skyhawk defense of coach Shann Elkins bent but didn’t break on the Dots’ first possession. On a fourth-and-10 from the 23-yard line, Poca turned the ball over on downs when a pass to the end zone fell incomplete. Senior Bronson Skeens returned a Scott punt for a touchdown from near midfield and the Dots went up 7-0 after a successful extra point try from Joseph Starcher.
Scott (1-7) had trouble stopping the run early, giving up large chunks of yardage to the Poca backfield. Poca struck again as the opening frame was coming to a close when 7- and 9-yard jaunts by running back Owen McClanahan set up a 3-yard dive into the end zone by quarterback Jay Cook and a 14-0 Dots lead.
On Scott’s next possession, a low snap and fumble on a punt attempt gave Poca the ball on the Scott 1 and Cook punched it in again at the 11:04 mark with an off-tackle dive play that he kicked outside for the score, making it 21-0.
After a three-and-out by the Skyhawks, McClanahan made a nifty move on a Scott linebacker that sprung him for a 37-yard scamper. Two plays later, Scott’s Caleb Dingess picked off a Poca pass on the 2 and returned it to Dot territory with 7:41 to go in the half.
Scott’s offensive line had trouble managing the blitz packages from the Dot defense, leaving quarterback Connor White to rely on his legs as he was flushed from the pocket repeatedly. Scott moved the ball four yards and punted after the turnover. The Dots blocked the punt and Dingess scooped up the ball for the Skyhawks and advanced it near the Poca 30-yard line but after a dead-ball personal foul on Poca and a holding call on Scott, the Skyhawks took the ball at the 35.
Dingess scored on a 7-yard dive play with 4:28 to go in the half and after Scott failed to convert on a 2-point conversion attempt, the Skyhawks were down, 21-6.
Poca didn’t take its foot off of the gas and Skeens scored just before the half ended on a 56-yard bomb from Cook on a seam route. Skeens kicked it out to the sideline to walk the tightrope to paydirt. Poca led 28-6 at halftime.
The Dots aren’t the only squad in the conference fighting through injuries, as the Skyhawks lost starting quarterback Michael Clay on Sept. 21 versus Chapmanville and have turned to White to step under center and also run the Skyhawks’ shotgun sets. Clay suffered a broken collarbone and is out for the season.
Dingess reeled off runs of 5,7 and 9 yards for Scott in the third period for what appeared to be a promising drive. A personal foul penalty killed the effort and Scott punted on a fourth-and-7.
McClanahan had a dazzling 77-yard run called back for Poca for a block in the back with 6:28 to go in the third frame. Three plays later, Luke Spradling caught a laser from Cook and scored on a 65-yard pass making the score 35-6.
Poca added another score when McClanahan dove into the end zone on a first-and-goal. Starcher hit a 43-yard field goal in the fourth to cap the scoring for the night.
“We have to do a better job of distributing the football but tonight we did a fairly decent job of spreading the ball around,” said Ramsey.
“We have some things to clean up but the standard never changes. We’re trying to express to these kids that we want to be a dominant team and dominant teams don’t care about the scoreboard. They meet the standard on every play.”
Poca hosts Herbert Hoover on Oct 26 as Scott travels to Winfield.