The Wildcats thwarted East Hardy in the red zone four times and kept grinding to big rewards resulting in a 21-14 victory during the regular season finale and crashing senior night in Baker last Friday.
Pendleton County needed to get this win to seal a playoff spot and the Cougars were trying to strengthen the seeding placement, so this game was an important bookend to the season.
“Our backs were against the wall and we needed to win to get in. I got some dedicated football players who didn’t want their season to end, especially a group of hard working seniors that I can’t be more proud of tonight. We knew we needed to run the football, that’s our bread and butter and we found some other things we needed to take advantage of and we did that. We worked hard defensively covering things scheme-wise. They know we like to power and sweep it, so we had some counter moves for that and came up big in the second half. Our defensive line got after it tonight and that is a credit to our defensive coaching staff. We made the stops when we needed them,” Pendleton County coach Zac Smith remarked.
“When you go up two scores, everybody gets a little more pumped. I think got complacent for just a second and they got that big return. We couldn’t tackle [Christian] Dove in the backfield, he was running around like a rabbit. We had to make a play there. Credit to them, they are a great program and great football team. We came ready to play and we knew our backs were against the wall.”
Pendleton County had the defensive answer for the potent aerial attack the Cougars pose with a ferocious line creating havoc.
East Hardy began the opening series on its own 35-yard line with quarterback Christian Dove picking up seven yards and was tackled by Pendleton County’s Isaiah Alexander.
Dove was chased out of the pocket before being forced to the sidelines for no gain by Wildcats defenders Dillon Smith and Braden McClanahan.
Facing third down, the Cougars went airborne as Dove launched a pass to Andrew Tharp making a diving reception gaining 37 yards and a first down at the edge of the red zone at the 21-yard line.
The No. 8 Wildcats (5-2) will host No. 9 Moorefield (4-2) in the first round of the state playoffs this Friday night, while No. 14 East Hardy (5-2) visits No. 3 Doddridge County (6-1) on Saturday afternoon at 1:30 p.m.