POCA — Poca junior Ethan Payne set the tone early by scoring on the game’s opening kickoff, one of five first-quarter touchdowns he amassed against visiting Scott at O.O. White Stadium on Friday night.
Payne scored on each of the first five touches he had in the game, with rushing touchdowns of 21, 29, 56 and 81 yards to complement his 79-yard kickoff return, with the Class AA second-ranked Dots eventually winning 47-0.
“He’s a special player,” Poca coach Seth Ramsey said of Payne. “He’s by the far the best football player I’ve ever coached, best athlete I’ve ever coached. He’s a special kid. We’re lucky to have him.”
To start the contest, Payne ran untouched on the opening kickoff. Poca (8-0) recovered the ensuing fumbled kickoff at the Scott 21-yard line, and Payne took the first play to the end zone for a touchdown. In 23 seconds, Payne scored two touchdowns.
“I was surprised they kicked it to me, honestly,” Payne said. “It feels good. We’re just working on getting better and getting ready for the playoffs.”
Following Payne’s first rushing touchdown, the Dots defense forced Scott (1-7) into three consecutive three-and-outs.
On the ensuing three Poca possessions, Payne twice scored with the series’ first play, while Payne’s younger brother Toby Payne reached the end zone on an 11-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Jay Cook.
Ethan Payne added his fourth rushing touchdown, a 56-yard run with 1:23 left in the first quarter. With the successful point-after kick, the Dots led 41-0.
With Poca well in control, the teams played an eight-minute second quarter.
On Ethan Payne’s fifth carry of the night, Scott held him scoreless for the first time with a meager 5-yard gain. He finished with five carries for 192 yards.
“He’s a good player,” Skyhawks coach Shane Griffith said of Ethan Payne. “His skill set is rare to find in that type of frame.”
Dots fullback Dillon Taylor scored on a 1-yard run to cap the first-half scoring. At halftime, Poca led 47-0, as Ethan Payne totaled 271 all-purpose yards, while Scott posted 9 offensive yards.
In the second half, Poca employed its reserves and Ethan Payne did not play, as the teams again played eight-minute quarters. The teams played to a scoreless second half.
Ethan Payne dominated the spotlight with his offensive prowess, but the Dots defense played exceptional, too, limiting Scott to 20 total yards on offense.
“We’ve got a lot of blue-collar guys on the defensive side of the ball,” Ramsey said after the game. “They work so hard during the week, and we spend so much time on the little things up front and the little things in the secondary. Those guys, they work so hard. They never complain. Every day, they come to work, they come to get better.”
Poca next plays at Herbert Hoover at 7 p.m. Friday, while Scott plays host to Winfield at 7:30 p.m. Friday.