Leaving everything on the field in the final regular season game with a win guaranteeing a berth in the state playoffs was at stake for the Yellow Jackets greeting undefeated and top ranked Pendleton County during senior night.
The Yellow Jackets swarmed quickly into the lead setting the tone on a 64-yard touchdown run by Matthew Jenkins and Vincent Cyrus led the defensive stronghold with a dozen tackles thwarting and stifling the Wildcats in a 35-0 shutout on Friday night.
“Coming into the game, we challenged them to be physical. We wanted them to play hard from the start of the game to the end of the game. They took the challenge in their prep throughout the week and took the challenge into the weight room every single day. I am proud of them and that challenge of being more physical showed out. Pendleton County is a great ball club and they have a long road ahead of them. I am proud of our guys in how they came out and responded to them,” Moorefield coach Matt Altobello remarked.
“We had a foundation laid last year by the seniors and now this year they are stacking on top of it. They understand their jobs and do whatever we ask them to do. This is the hardest working group that we’ve ever had and I have only been here two years, so that is something for us to continue to build on. They understand program-wise we have to be physical and play the game. We wanted to come out and run the football. The guys made some adjustments at halftime and came out in the second half with the same mentality as we did on the first play. They felt pretty good going into halftime. At halftime, I had two or three guys come up to me saying we need to tell everybody it is zero-zero. That’s how they focus in the game. I watched the interception when it happens, but I am thinking what do we need to do next. What do we need to do to put our guys in position to be successful. We moved around and brought pressure when we needed to It was picking and choosing the best time when we need to move.”
This was reminiscent of the state championship run for Moorefield in 2003 when the Wildcats came in with an 8-0 record and was dominated by the Yellow Jackets.
All of the seniors came out together holding hands as honorary captains entering Yellow Jacket Field showing the solidarity and unity of the squad.
Moorefield (6-4) scored a touchdown in less than one minute entering the game and added another end zone score seven minutes later plus another touchdown in the second quarter.
Pendleton County’s six possessions in the first half resulted in no points as the Yellow Jackets forced three punts, two turnovers on downs and time expired in the last series at halftime.
Moorefield began the game at
its own 39 yard line after the kickoff return by Jackson Weese, then a false start was assessed.
Jenkins made a two yard pickup, then pierced around the outside down the numbers for a 64-yard touchdown run at the 11:03 mark and Atiklit Tamiru added the extra point to put the Yellow Jackets ahead 7-nil over No. 1 Pendleton County.
The Wildcats were forced to burn a timeout in its first series which was a three and out punting possession starting at the 35-yard line.
Former Moorefield player and current Pendleton County running back Javen Fawley took the opening handoff and was dropped for a two yard loss by Yellow Jackets defenders Vincent Cyrus, Coleman Mongold and Matthew Jenkins.
After the timeout, Pendleton County’s Dalton Dunkle gained the two yards back and was tackled at the original line of scrimmage by Cyrus and Kooper Riggleman.
Moorefield’s Blake Funk sacked Wildcats quarterback Isaiah Gardiner for a four yard loss leading to the punt.
Moorefield quarterback Branson See notched one yard and was tackled by Fawley and Evan Kile.
The Wildcats were flagged for being offsides and a fumble was collected by the Yellow Jackets to keep the possession going prior to an incomplete pass creating a punt.
Pendleton County managed only nine yards on the ensuing possession yielding another punt as Moorefield’s Cyrus, Jenkins and Funk made tackles on Dunkle.
The Yellow Jackets started at their own 34-yard line after the punt sailed out of bounds, then Jenkins broke away from Pendleton County’s grasp dashing 61 yard before being chased down by Kenyan Lockard at the five yard line.
Moorefield’s Dequavious Kornegay carried the load the remaining distance of five yards for a touchdown and Tamiru added the extra point for a 14-nil advantage at the 4:06 mark of the first quarter.
Dunkle rushed for four yards on the first play of the next Wildcats series and was brought down by Moorefield’s Kooper Riggleman at the 31-yard line.
Jenkins and Funk stopped Dunkle again on a two yard gain, then Pendleton County garnered its initial first down of the contest on a throw under pressure from Gardiner to Javin Kuykendall with Jenkins chasing for the tackle at the Moorefield 49-yard line after the 18-yard catch.
Moorefield’s Malachi Hinger and Matthew Weatherholt tackled Dunkle on a two yard carry.
Fawley collected a fumble in the backfield for the Wildcats before Gardiner was forced out of bounds on a loss and Pendleton County elected to punt on fourth down with the snap sailing high and fielded by punter Josh Alt with Moorefield’s Gavin Wolfe making the tackle at the 20-yard line.
A timeout was called with under a minute left by Pendleton County after the punt fiasco.
The Yellow Jackets couldn’t take advantage of the great field position as three penalties and a bad snap backed them up near midfield to close the first quarter facing second down and 38 to begin the second quarter.
Moorefield fumbled the ball to commence the second quarter with Fawley making the recovery for the Wildcats at the Moorefield 45-yard line.
Fawley was stopped for no gain by Jenkins, then Pendleton County gained six yards on a catch by Colt Smith with Jenkins making the tackle again.
Gardiner was shoved out of bounds resulting in a personal foul call which moved the Wildcats into the red zone at the Moorefield 19-yard line with a fresh set of downs.
Gardiner was tackled by Hinger and Riggleman on a three yard pickup, then Gardiner threw two incomplete passes.
The Wildcats went for it on fourth down as Gardiner dodged a few tackles before being denied a first down at the 10-yard line by Hinger and Riley Hedrick.
Moorefield took over at the 10-yard line with 9:13 remaining in the second quarter.
Jenkins made runs of three, five and four yards to garner a first down for Moorefield at the 22-yard line.
Jenkins added another seven yards before there was an illegal shift called.
A first down was obtained for the Yellow Jackets on a catch by Roger Myers for 12 yards to the 36-yard line on a pass from See.
After a holding call, Kornegay gained two yards and Trevor Shoemaker made a catch for four yards.
Pendleton County’s Colt Smith nearly made an interception knocking the ball down to force the Yellow Jackets to punt.
Pendleton County started the next possession at its own 37-yard line and Gardiner escaped down the sidelines for a 47 yard gain being forced out of bounds by Jenkins inside the red zone at the 16-yard line.
Cyrus came up with two big tackles for the Yellow Jackets making a stop on a one yard gain by Smith before sacking Gardiner, who slipped losing five yards.
The Wildcats failed to score in the red zone once again on two errant pass attempts for a turnover on downs at the 20-yard line.
See was tackled near the sidelines for a loss, then connected with Shoemaker to move the chains at the 40-yard line on a 26-yard reception for the Yellow Jackets.
Jenkins caught the next pass from See and dashed down to the Wildcats four yard line with Ryan Mitchell making the touchdown saving tackle on the 56-yard play.
Jenkins punched the ball into the end zone for Moorefield from four yards out with just over a minute remaining in the first half and Tamiru’s kick increased the lead to 21-nil over top ranked Pendleton County.
Jenkins surpassed the 1,000-yard rushing milestone for the season gaining 178 yards against the Wildcats for a total of 1,175 for the year.
The Wildcats final possession of the first half began at the 37-yard line and a defensive pass interference call moved the chains at the Moorefield 48-yard line.
After the free play, Gardiner picked up another first down at the 38-yard line and was forced out of bounds by Ethan Sines with a timeout called as there was just 45 seconds to go.
Pendleton County’s Cole Day rushed for six yard and was stopped by Cyrus and Rodney Wratchford.
Gardiner dodged a couple tacklers before being brought down by Cyrus at the 17-yard line with time expiring for halftime, 21-0.
Pendleton County started the second half at the 28-yard line and Moorefield’s Malachi Hinger made a sack for a five yard loss, then jumped up running toward the sideline pumping up the crowd with a few big strides and kicks.
The Yellow Jackets fans were still buzzing loudly from the first half and the momentum continued to keep the Hive rocking.
Dunkle gained about 11 yards, then Smith was stopped on a three yard run by Moorefield’s Seth Wilson.
The Wildcats elected to go for it and Gardiner fumbled the ball when slammed by Cyrus and Wilson recovered the loose ball at the 32-yard line.
The Yellow Jackets had short field position once more, but wasn’t able to add to the lead.
Jenkins made several carries spanning nine yards with stops by Day and Tony Nesselrodt,
Tamiru attempted a 40-yard field goal and missed it with 7:44 left in the third quarter, but Moorefield was still in the driver’s seat up 21-nil.
After a touchback, Gardiner rushed for nine yards with Riggleman making the stop and added a first down run of eight yards with Sine garnering the tackle at the 37-yard line.
Moorefield’s Cyrus and Hinger stopped Smith on a three yard gain, then Gardiner notched a first down on a 15-yard keeper before being brought down by Weese.
Cyrus led the Yellow Jackets with 97 tackles on the season.
Gardiner eluded the Yellow Jackets for 36 yards and was forced out of bounds deep in the red zone at the nine yard line.
The Wildcats gained five more yards on two carries by Gardiner with stops by Wilson and Funk.
Pendleton County’s best chance to score was erased in the end zone as an overthrown pass due to pressure from Cyrus was intercepted by Moorefield’s Coleman Mongold and taken out to the 18-yard line.
On third down and nine, the Yellow Jackets gained a first down on a pass from See to Brent Moran reaching the 29-yard line.
Moran caught the next pass for 27 yards into Pendleton County territory at the 44-yard line.
Jenkins made two carries for another five yards prior to a holding penalty during his catch.
Roger Myers erased the negative yards for Moorefield on a 13-yard catch reaching the 33-yard line to end the third quarter.
The Yellow Jackets burned time off the clock starting the fourth quarter as Kornegay rushed seven times before capping off the drive with a seven yard touchdown run with 7:46 remaining and Tamiru’s kick extended the lead damage to 28-0.
Pendleton County’s Javin Kuykendall made a 30-yard catch to midfield where Jenkins made the tackle.
Gardiner added seven yards with a stop coming from Cyrus.
After an incomplete pass, Gardiner was sacked by Moorefield’s Matthew Weatherholt and Seth Wilson to back the Wildcats to their own 48-yard line on the nine yard loss.
Pendleton County attempted a fake punt and the pass was intercepted by Mongold for the second time in the game returning the ball to the Wildcats 16-yard line before being called back to the 38-yard line on a block in the back.
Jenkins carried a group of Wildcats on a 25-yard run into Pendleton County territory at the 37-yard line.
Kornegay plowed over Mitchell for four more yards, then garnered a 26-yard run deep into the red zone for a Yellow Jackets first down at the seven yard line.
Kornegay carried the ball into the end zone from seven yards out and Tamiru’s extra point created a 35-nil advantage with 3:32 remaining in the game.
Pendleton County was forced into a three and out punt with the Yellow Jackets kneeling down to seal the shutout victory upsetting top ranked Pendleton County.
“Let me sew it up for you here real quick: in the first half, big plays you can’t give up plays of 55, 65 and whatever the other screen play was and expect to win any ball game. Defensively, we have to tackle better. We’re making contact, but we have to wrap up and finish the tackles. You can’t give up big plays and beat anyone. This is the first night we gave up those big plays. Kudos to Moorefield, they did a nice job. Coach Altobello had them well prepared. They played hard and wanted it a little more than we did and it showed from the get-go,” Pendleton County coach Zac Smith commented.
“We had a slow start and things didn’t get better from there. We had a couple drives offensively and didn’t find a way to finish. Moorefield sent the pressure at the right times. Moorefield’s early tone had an impact mentally on our players. Our kids aren’t happy and I told them to let this one simmer. I am super proud of their season, but not much of tonight. We didn’t perform tonight and didn’t prepare the past two weeks very well. Our want-to in practice has an impact on Friday nights. I expected Moorefield’s intensity, but we didn’t match it.”
Moorefield Football honored all of the seniors in a pre-game ceremony: Brent Moran, Aidan Richardson, Jackson Weese, Trace Tanner, Paxton Coby, Jason Kenyon, Seth Wilson, Riley Hedrick, Rodney Wratchford, Matthew Weatherholt, Mason Ours, Grant Keplinger and Addison Barb in addition to the band members.
The Yellow Jackets have a bye week and await the seeding position for the state playoffs eager to see who the opponent will be with a potential of a rematch against the Wildcats.