WINFIELD — Poca’s defense finally had an opportunity to prove its mettle.
In the end, it was just another test the Dots passed with flying colors.
Despite a couple of interceptions, some costly penalties and just 269 total yards, Poca limited host Winfield for the most part and the Class AA No. 4 Dots cashed in on enough Generals mistakes to pick up a 33-14 win, ruining Winfield’s homecoming and running their perfect record to 7-0.
The Dots were operating on a bit of a short week after defeating Sissonville 40-20 last Saturday at University of Charleston Stadium, a day later than schedule after the Indians’ field was deemed unplayable.
That lost day of rest seemed to dog Poca at times, but the Dots faced and overcame adversity, something coach Seth Ramsey was pleased with no matter how pretty or ugly the win may have been.
“It’s a big win, I’m really proud for these kids,” Ramsey said. “We faced some adversity tonight and they hung in there, they battled and they did what they needed to do to win the game.
“We’ve got a lot of things to work on, we’ve just got to keep going in the right direction.”
Though Poca celebrated another big win over a Cardinal Conference rival, there were concerns in the aftermath as well.
Sophomore running back Ethan Payne carried 20 times for 91 yards and a trio of scores, but was injured midway through the fourth quarter with an apparent hip injury. Ramsey said he should be OK moving forward, but next week’s off week couldn’t come at a better time.
“It’s hard to prepare for these guys on a short week,” Ramsey said. “Physically we’re a little sluggish, we’re a little banged up but we found a way to win.
“Defensively, the guys played great. We got stops when we had to get stops.”
The Generals (2-4) were forced into seven punts and three interceptions, with all of the turnovers coming in the second half.
Poca punted five times and was picked off twice and held to its lowest scoring output of the season, but after taking a 21-7 lead early in the third on Payne’s third touchdown run, this one from 2 yards out, the Dots never looked back.
The Generals took over on their own 21-yard line on the ensuing drive and quarterback Nick Vance was picked off on the second play, setting up a 9-yard touchdown run for Owen McClanahan three plays later. McClanahan would add a 63-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter to complete the scoring and led the Dots with 101 yards on seven carries and 26 receiving yards on three catches.
The biggest play of the first half may have come in the form of an official’s flag.
Facing fourth and 10 from the Winfield 47-yard line, Ramsey decided to go for it with Cook throwing a pass down the right hash intended for Payne. There was minor contact as the ball sailed over Payne’s head, but it was enough to warrant a penalty in the official’s estimation.
Nevertheless, the sudden fresh slate of downs energized the Dots’ offense, and three plays later, Payne burst through the line again and scored from 11 yards out to give Poca a 14-0 lead early in the second quarter. It was the second touchdown of the game for Payne, who capped a three-play, 38-yard drive with a 22-yard scoring jaunt midway through the first quarter.
Winfield, which hadn’t mustered a first down in five offensive possessions to that point, finally got going, marching 71 yards in 11 plays to register a much-needed response, culminating in a 6-yard pass from Vance to Cameron Brooks to cut Poca’s lead to 14-7.
The Generals attempted an onside kick and failed, but on the first play of the ensuing drive, Payne took a handoff and threw a pass, only to be picked off by Eric Boggess to give Winfield the ball right back at the 28-yard line.
John Covert immediately ripped off an 18-yard run, but the Generals showed no signs of urgency and, eventually, the half ended with Winfield on the Poca 21-yard line. Though Winfield went three-and-out in each of its first five possessions, the Generals ran 37 offensive plays compared to just 19 for the Dots thanks to the late flurry and two interceptions by the Gens defense.
Winfield scored its lone second-half touchdown on a 1-yard dive from Covert late in the third quarter to cut Poca’s lead to 27-14. The Generals forced a punt on Poca’s next possession, but after driving to the Poca 34, Vance was picked off, setting up McClanahan’s long scoring run four plays later.
Vance threw the ball 40 times, completing 16 of them for 147 yards. Covert finished with 83 yards rushing on 19 carries.