By Christopher Wade
From the Saturday Gazette-Mail
For the Williamson Daily News
POCA - Mingo Central and Poca squared off for the first time in football in both school’s program history on Friday night, albeit a short one for the Miners in just their third year.
The Miners enjoyed their first visit to Poca and O.O. White Stadium, jumping on the Dots early and often in earning a decisive 68-14 victory in front of a sparse crowd of about 400.
Mingo Central rolled up 487 yards of total offense on the game, including 374 on the ground. Seven different Miners scored touchdowns and the offense only punted once on 11 possessions.
“It was a good trip down here,” Mingo Central coach Yogi Kinder said. “We haven’t ever scored 60 points. Everybody comes to practice, and everybody needs to play. I’m just happy for our guys. That is what it is all about.”
With the victory, the Miners improve to 4-2 on the season, with their only two losses coming against Class AA powers No. 1 Wayne and No. 8 Wyoming East. Meanwhile, the shorthanded Dots fall to 1-6.
Mingo Central scored on their first five offensive possessions of the game and were balanced both running and throwing the ball. The Miners rushed for 115 yards on the ground and had 113 yards through the air in leading 35-0 at halftime.
“I’m old school,” joked Kinder, the longtime coach at Matewan, before consolidating into Mingo Central three years ago. “I like to run it. My other coaches like to pass it. They watch too much television. Balance is what we kind of look for.”
Miners quarterback Stephen Hammond opened the scoring with a 24-yard touchdown run in the first quarter and running back Chance Lester tallied a 15-yard TD scamper later in the quarter to give Mingo Central a 14-0 lead with 3:05 remaining.
Mingo Central wasn’t finished in the first quarter, tacking on another score, this time through the air. Hammond connected on a screen pass to Dakweon Willis, who took it 38 yards for another touchdown and 22-0 lead.
The second quarter wasn’t much better for the Dots, as the Miners added two more touchdowns to take a 35-0 lead into the half. Willis and Deonte Joplin each scored on one-yard TD runs for Mingo Central.
Poca aided the Miners cause, struggling on offense in the first half while turning the ball over three times, twice on interceptions, and another on a fumble. Three different Dots players attempted passes.
The second half was much the same for Mingo Central as the first as the Miners continued to do what they wanted to the Poca defense, scoring on all five offensive possessions as well.
Chase Justice scored on the first play of the second half on a 47-yard touchdown scamper, Lester added a six-yard TD run, and Joplin scored from three yards out to give Mingo Central a 53-7 lead after three quarters.
The Miners were able to score two more times in the fourth quarter with all their reserves in the game. Joe Hunt scored on a two-yard TD plunge and Nathaniel Abbott added a 40-yard touchdown scamper.
It’s been a rough couple weeks for Poca. Four upperclassmen have quit the team recently and the Dots have been dealing with injuries, and the loss to Mingo Central didn’t help matters either.
“It’s been a tough couple weeks,” Poca coach Bob Lemley said. “We had five guys hurt tonight. That’s not good. At least we get a week off next week. Maybe we can take care of things there. We just have to regroup.”
Levi Clendenin got the Dots on the scoreboard with a three-yard touchdown run with 6:49 left in the third quarter. Andrew Gibson added a 27-yard TD run in the fourth quarter. Clendenin and Hayden Webb had 44 yards rushing each to lead Poca.
Willis led Mingo Central with 120 yards on 11 carries, and Joplin added 51 yards on seven attempts. 11 different players carried the ball for the Miners.
Score by quarters:
Mingo (4-2) … 22 13 18 15 - 68
Poca (1-6) … 0 0 7 7 - 14