It was a close one but the Man High School football team was able to come out on top, 30-25 at Fayetteville on Friday night.
Man, ranked No. 5 in the state this week in the Class A football ratings, improved to 4-1 on the season. Fayetteville dropped to 2-4.
It was the first Class A opponent this season for the Hillbillies, which had beaten three 2A teams and lost to 3A Logan to open the season.
The victory sets up next Friday night’s homecoming showdown at Man as the Billies host county rival Chapmanville (4-2), rated No. 13 in the state in Class AA.
Fayetteville took advantage of a Man fumble and grabbed an early 7-0 lead on the Billies in Friday’s game as Tasheem Saunders ran in from 12 yards out at the 2:57 mark of the first quarter. Dalton Dempsey kicked the extra point.
Then at the 2:41 mark on the ensuing kickoff, the Billies’ Cayce Mullins returned the ball 86 yards for a touchdown. Mikle Scott Rowe ran in the two-point conversion and Man led 8-7.
Man struck gold again on the defensive side of the ball with one second left in the period as Rowe intercepted a Fayetteville pass and raced 80 yards for a touchdown. John Thomas Keffer passed to Mullins on the conversion play as the Billies led 16-7 after one.
Both offenses sputtered in the second quarter until Fayetteville came back with Will Dooley’s 30-yard TD pass from William Fenton with 3:42 left until the half. The kick was no good as Man led 16-13 at the half.
Man fumbled the ball away to the Pirates to start the second half of play as Fayetteville got the ball at midfield. However, the Man defense would stop the Pirates on downs, forcing a punt. The Billies took over at their own 36-yard line and moved the pigskin down the field.
Man made it 22-13 at the 3:40 mark of the third quarter as Tracy Jones caught a 20-yard touchdown pass from Keffer. The two-point conversion run failed.
The Pirates didn’t quit as FHS got excellent field position at the 50 after the kickoff. Two costly Man penalties, including a 15-yard personal foul flag, moved the ball deep into Big Blue territory. Just two plays later, Fayetteville closed the gap to 22-19 with 2:26 left as Saunders ran in for a 24-yard touchdown. The PAT was no good.
Both teams then struggled offensively to open the fourth quarter. Fayetteville fumbled the ball on first down of one drive but got it back. Saunders was then thrown for a 2-yard loss by Jones and Jeremiah Beavers stuffed a third down play, forcing a Pirates’ punt at the 5:27 mark.
Man took over on its own 47.
A 33-yard pass from Keffer to Jones then put the Billies in business.
Then on the very next play, Man expanded its lead to 30-19 with 4:12 left in the game on Braden Griffin’s 14-yard touchdown run.
Fayetteville tacked on one more touchdown with 2:07 to go on a 2-yard run by Saunders but could not get any closer. The conversion play failed.
Man recovered the on-sides kick to take over at midfield.
Griffin was stopped for no gain on first down and Fayetteville, trailing 30-25, called timeout.
Jones then had a key 20-yard reverse run to the Fayetteville 30 for a first down, forcing the Pirates to burn another timeout with 1:17 left. Man was then able to run out the rest of the clock to come away with the victory.
Keffer finished 8-for-12 passing for 96 yards and one TD. Jones had three catches for 52 yards and a score. Mullins had five grabs for 44 yards.
The Billies were sluggish on offense, rushing 41 times for only 158 yards — an average of 3.8 yards per attempt.
Griffin had 16 carries for 55 yards and a score to lead the Billies. Rowe had 12 attempts for 39 yards. Jones had one carry for 26 yards. Keffer carried the ball six times for 13 yards. Mullins ran twice for 10 yards. Neil Mullins had two totes for eight yards. Noah Maynard had two carries for seven yards.
Neil Mullins led the Man defense with nine tackles. Jones had eight and Gage Harvey seven. Christian McCoy had six. Beavers and Noah Maynard had five each. Robert Caudill had four, while Rowe had three. Tanner Bailey, Cayce Mullins and Thomas Holt had two each. Ritchie Nelson, Ross Osborne, Patrick Wiley and Jace Duba had one each.
Cayce Mullins and Rowe had one pick each.
2013 Man High School
Football Schedule (4-1):
Aug. 30: Logan, L 20-40
Sept. 6: at Mount View, W 44-0
Sept. 13: at Westside, W 22-14
Sept. 20: River View (Hall of Fame Game), W 46-8
Sept. 27: OPEN DATE
Oct. 4: at Fayetteville, W 30-25
Oct. 11: Chapmanville (Homecoming), 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 18: at Sherman, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 25: Pocahontas County, 7:30 p.m.
Nov. 1: at Tug Valley, 7:30 p.m.
Nov. 8: Van, 7:30 p.m.