By Paul Adkins
MAN — In the end, the “Battle of the Unbeatens” between Chapmanville Regional and Man High School, lived up to all the hype.
But for nearly three quarters it looked like it would be a blowout by the Tigers.
Class AA No. 4-ranked Chapmanville (7-0) were able to stave off a furious late rally by the Class A No. 1 Man Hillbillies (5-1) as CRHS came away with a 35-28 victory at Man’s George A. Queen Memorial Field.
Man trailed 28-6 late in the third quarter and looked to be done.
A few Man fans even started to head for the exits.
The Hillbillies battled back, though, and drew even 28-28 with 2:52 left in the game when Gabby Brown snared a tipped pass in the end zone from quarterback John Thomas Keffer which first went off the hands of Trey Whitt.
That only got Man to within two points. Keffer than ran in the two-point conversion to tie it up.
Chapmanville later scored the go-ahead and eventual game-winning score in dramatic fashion.
Facing a third-and-six at the Man 28-yard line the Tigers were in a fix. Because of scoreboard problems the correct time was not showing on the clock. There was about 30 seconds left in the game according to the officials.
Tigers’ quarterback Alex Berry went back to pass, scrambled around and was nearly sacked, which would have taken Chapmanville out of field goal range. Berry, however, somehow broke out of the pack and fired a deep pass to the end zone.
Noah Dingess was wide open and standing in the end zone.
Dingess was there all alone and caught the ball for a touchdown with 17 seconds left as the CRHS crowd went wild. Tanner Dillon added the extra point kick and the Tigers led 35-28.
It was the game winner.
Chapmanville was looking to get as close to the sticks as possible to get a few extra yards closer for the Tigers’ strong-legged kicker Dillon, who already has a 35-yard game-winning field goal under his belt in Chapmanville’s 38-35 last-second victory on the road at Herbert Hoover earlier in the season.
That was the plan.
The Man defense, however, nearly blew up those plans.
With a sack of Berry, that might have taken Dillon out of field goal range.
Chapmanville coach George Barker said Dillon is comfortable from about 45 yards out but might have tried one as deep as 50.
With a possible sack and a missed field goal the game could have went to overtime for the second straight year. Chapmanville won last year’s classic — a 26-20 double OT victory at home.
Berry, though, found Noah Dingess for the winning touchdown.
Man got the ball back on its own 38 with only 13 seconds left.
After two incomplete passes it was all over.
The Tigers celebrate the win over Man. (Video by Paul Adkins)
Coach Barker and the Tigers were extatic with the win and were happy his team was able to hold on against the fired-up Billies, which had all of the momentum late in the game.
“That was worth the $5 price of admission for the fans wasn’t it?” Barker said after the game.
Berry was 14-for-23 passing for 214 yards and three touchdown passes for the night. Jacob Dingess had nine receptions for 144 yards and two TDs.
Dillon had 21 carries for 73 yards and one TD to lead the CRHS ground game.
The Tigers drew first blood on the opening drive of the game with backup quarterback Adam Vance’s 62-yard swing pass and touchdown to Jacob Dingess. Dillon kicked the PAT and Chapmanville led 7-0.
Chapmanville Regional High School’s Jacob Dingess races down the sideline for a 62-yard TD pass from backup QB Adam Vance in Friday night’s 35-28 win by the Tigers at county rival Man in the “Battle of the Unbeatens.” (Video by Paul Adkins)
Berry sat out the play after getting sacked and shaken up a bit on the previous snap.
Then with 1:46 to go until halftime, Berry tossed a 58-yard bomb to Dylan Smith for a touchdown as the Tigers led 14-0. The PAT by Dillon was good.
Chapmanville QB Alex Berry fires a 58-yard touchdown bomb to Dylan Smith to put the Tigers ahead 14-0. (Video by Paul Adkins)
Man struck back only four plays later as Keffer got the Billies on the scoreboard with a 47-yard touchdown strike to Ross Osborne. The two-point conversion pass by Keffer was intercepted by Jacob Dingess as the score stayed 14-6 with 45.1 ticks to go until halftime.
Man QB John Thomas Keffer fires a 47-yard touchdown pass to Ross Osborne in Friday night’s game to make it 14-6. (Video by Paul Adkins)
Chapmanville widened its lead to 21-6 with Dillon’s 2-yard TD run and point after kick with 6:15 left in the third quarter.
Tanner Dillon’s 2-yard TD run put Chapmanville ahead 21-6 over the Billies. (Video by Paul Adkins)
Brown then fumbled on the ensuing kickoff and five plays later the Tigers went in the end zone again with Berry’s 3-yard TD pass to Jacob Dingess with 3:42 left in the third. After the Dillon PAT the Tigers were comfortably ahead and were firmly in control of the game with a 28-6 lead.
Man soon got back into it.
After two Keffer incomplete passes, he hooked up with Matt Sanders on a 56-yard pass to the Chapmanville 1-yard line.
It was the beginning of the momentum switch.
Keffer then plunged into the end zone on the next play. Keffer also ran in the two-point conversion as the Billies cut it to 28-14 with 2:17 remaining in the third.
Then in the fourth, Man’s Richie Nelson fell on a Chapmanville fumble by Dillon at the CRHS 41-yard line.
Five snaps later, Man’s Jace Duba scored on a 4-yard touchdown run, trimming the Tigers’ lead to 28-20 with 8:41 left in the game. Man, however, failed on the two-point conversion play but were only down one score and one two-point conversion.
The Man defense tightened up and held the Tigers to a three-and-out in the next series. After the punt and return Man got it back on the Chapmanville 45-yard line with 6:30 left in the game.
Keffer then almost singlehandedly drove the Hillbillies down the field, running with the ball six times in seven plays but Man was stalled on the 13-yard line and facing a fourth-and-three.
Keffer went back to pass and fired one to the end zone. The pass went off Whitt’s hands and was caught on the tip by Brown for a 13-yard TD with 2:52 left in the game. That put Man to within 28-26. Still needing a two-point conversion to tie it and possibly send the game to overtime, Keffer took the keeper and scored, tying it up at 28.
Gabby Brown catches a tipped pass off the hands of Trey Whitt for a touchdown to tie the game up with the Tigers. (Video by Paul Adkins)
Chapmanville, though, was able to win it in the closing seconds.
The game was one of the three Northside Automotive MetroNews High School Games of the Week.
Both Keffer and Berry were radio guests on the MetroNews High School Sportsline on Thursday.
Man’s defense went into the game only allowing 130.4 yards per game and just 46 yards rushing per contest. Prior to Friday’s game, Man’s opponents had converted only 7 of 50 third downs.
Ashli Kirkland was crowned at halftime as the Man High School homecoming queen.
Ashli Kirkland was crowned at halftime as the Man High School homecoming queen. (Video by Paul Adkins)
Chapmanville hosts Mingo Central this coming Friday night. Man travels to Sherman. Both games have 7:30 p.m. starting times.
— Look for a recap of the Chapmanville-Man game, including coaches comments, game statistics and photos in Sunday’s Logan Banner print edition. Look for additional game video highlights at: www.loganbanner.com.
Man’s Trey Whitt falls on a first-quarter fumble. (Video by Paul Adkins)