POCA — In a high-power offensive showing, Poca displayed to rival Nitro that The Barrel belongs with the Dots.
Poca running back Ethan Payne rushed for two touchdowns, caught one and threw for another as the Dots amassed 434 total offensive yards. The offense proved more than enough as Poca defeated Nitro in the annual Battle for the Barrel on Friday night at O.O. White Stadium, winning 46-8.
“We’ve been building up for this,” Poca coach Seth Ramsey said. “We came out and executed the game plan, had a little rough going at the beginning, but once we settled down, we started playing a little bit and taking advantage of some mismatches we had.
“We played with a lot of energy, a lot of intensity and we’re really proud of the effort.”
After the program suffered through a 39-game losing streak — which was snapped with back-to-back wins last season — Payne said it was important Poca (1-0) begin the schedule with a victory.
“It’s a good way to start the season, get the first one, get the jitters out and come out here next week and do the same thing,” Payne said.
This year’s squad differs from the past thanks to its attitude, Payne said.
“Our intensity and work ethic,” he said. “We worked hard all throughout offseason and came out here with intensity and there’s a confidence level in our team this year.”
The Dots look different in physical abilities, too, Nitro coach Zach Davis said.
“Poca’s good,” Davis said. “You stand down on the field and they’re some big suckers. They’ve spent a lot of time in the weight room. They pushed us around and they were definitely the better team.”
Poca’s offense sputtered on its first drive, a three-and-out, but quickly found its stride by scoring on five of its next six possessions in the first half.
Three different Dots –- Payne, Owen McClanahan and quarterback Jay Cook — scored rushing touchdowns in the first half. Payne and Cook each added a passing score. Facing third and 12, with less than a minute before halftime, Cook pitched to Payne, who dropped back and found a wide-open Bronson Skeens for a 62-yard touchdown. With the kick, the Dots led 33-6 and Poca held that advantage into the break.
Payne added a receiving and rushing touchdown in the second half. Nitro (0-1) tallied two second-half points via safety when a mishandled snap went through the end zone.
Payne rushed 10 times for 192 yards and caught five passes for 113 yards.
As the Dots offense took center stage, the Poca defense also shined, limiting the quick-tempo Nitro squad to 204 total offensive yards.
The win marked the first for Poca against Nitro since a 48-34 victory Aug. 24, 2012.
Poca next plays at Chapmanville at 7:30 p.m. Friday, while Nitro plays host to St. Albans at 7 p.m. Friday in the annual Battle for the Bridge.