KINGWOOD — The University High School football team defeated the Preston Knights on Friday night behind some stout defense and a solid mix of ground and passing game on offense to earn an important victory.
With the win the Hawks are back to 4-4 and may control their own destiny going into the final two weeks of the season.
“Well it was a little frustrating in the first half with all the penalties,” UHS head coach John Kelley said. “Preston had a real good call to make it a close ball game in the first quarter but our defense responded well and were dominant and stopped their tough running backs. Our running game got going tonight and making a switch with the faster back and it made a difference.”
The opening quarter saw scoring early and often as the Hawks broke the ice less than 90 seconds into the game when senior quarterback Luke Hudson connected with junior Ethan Jackson for a 64 yard strike down the middle of the field on their first play from scrimmage.
The Knights’ opening drive went three-and-out but after giving up the opening touchdown, the offense responded with a quick scoring drive of their own needing just two plays to find the endzone. Junior tailback Sheldon Miller scampered 72 yards on the first play of the drive before punching in from two yards out on the very next play, evening the score at seven-all with 10:22 still left in the first frame.
UHS was stopped on its next drive by the stubborn defensive front of PHS and forced into a punt and the hosts would take advantage of the momentum swing. Miller broke through the line and combined with a bobbled snap, had time to block the kick and scoop it off of the ground as well before returning the ball to the UHS 10 yard line.
Cole Turner found the endzone from three yards out after just three plays, giving the Knights their first lead of the game at 13-7 after a failed extra point.
UHS made a change in the backfield bringing junior Josh Jorge into the mix and his impact was felt immediately as he took nthe ball 18 yards for a touchdown on his fourth carry of the drive, giving his team the lead after a John Coleman extra point. Jorge gained 54 yards on the ground in the opening quarter.
The Knights opened the second quarter with the ball on offense, but were forced to punt the ball after just 58 seconds had come off the clock. The Hawks fielded the punt but fumbled the ball during the return, that was recovered by PHS with 11:08 until halftime.
PHS was unable to take advantage of the field position and surrendered the ball back to the Hawks. Once again, Jorge made his presence felt on offense with another slew of strong runs, capping off the drive with a 4-yard run to extend the UHS lead to 21-13 with 6:17 remaining until the break.
The Hawks added a field goal from Coleman before the half and entered the locker room leading 24-13.
The Hawks came out of the halftime break dominant in the third quarter, scoring 20 unanswered points and not allowing the Knights any space with the ball. Jorge added his third rushing touchdown of the game and Ethan Jackson recovered a fumble that he returned nearly 50 yards for a touchdown.
“Josh was huge running the football tonight,” Kelley said. “His second level speed and ability to hit the hole quickly made a huge impact and he ran it well. We needed him to step up for us tonight.”
Unable to make the neccesary adjustments in response to UHS, the Knights saw the lead extend beyond their reach and other than a last-minute touchdown late in the game for Preston, the second half was all UHS.
“I think UHS made some good adjustments in the second quarter with the change in the backfield,” PHS head coach Mark Deep said. “They ran some power on the ground and we were trying to figure it out on the move and weren’t really able to get over the hump. We had them in the same position last year after the first quarter with a close game but they are well coached and play hard.”
PHS will hit the road next week to visit Buckhannon-Upshur.
UHS will get ready for the Mohawk Bowl matchup next week as Morgantown visits Baker’s Ridge in a cross town rivalry game.
UHS 14 11 20 6 – 50
PHS 13 0 0 6 – 19
UHS – Jackson 64 pass from Hudson (kick good)
PHS – Miller run 2 (Taylor kick)
PHS – Turner run 3 (kick no good)
UHS – Jorge run 18 (kick good)
UHS – Jorge run 4 (kick good)
UHS – Coleman FG
UHS – Jorge run 5 (kick good)
UHS – Lewis pass 29 Hudson (kick no good)
UHS – Jackson fumble return (kick good)
UHS – L Byrer pass 3 from J Byrer (kick no good)
RUSHING – University: Lewis 3-5; Jorge 13-117-3td; Jackson 1-9; Coleman 1-5; Katchur 4-47. Preston: Miller 12-121-td; Likens 7-47-td; Turner 6-25; Land 1-1
PASSING – Hudson 14-23-366 2td; Byrer 1-1-3 td. Preston: Turner 4-11-9 INT
RECEVING – University: Jackson 5-168-td; Lewis 2-62-td; Kehler 1-16; Coleman 5-86; Fortney-Garbart 1-24; Byrer 1-3-td. Preston: Miller 1-2; Manko 2-4; Likens 1-3