MAN, W.Va. — The Man High School football team let one get away on Friday night as the Hillbillies lost a 24-21 homecoming heartbreaker to Bluefield at Man’s George A. Queen Memorial Field.
The Beavers (3-5) won the game in the closing seconds with an 85-yard punt return for a touchdown by Latrell “Mookie” Collier with just 41 seconds left in the game.
Man dropped to 4-3 on the season with the loss.
Bluefield improved to 7-1 in its all-time series with the Hillbillies. The two teams hadn’t meet since 2002.
“We played well but let one get away from us at the end,” Man coach Harvey Arms said. “We played well but we gave up that punt return at the end and that killed us. The ball rolled to him and we should of covered it.”
The Billies took an early 7-0 lead on their first offensive possession, marching 61 yards on just eight plays capped off by freshman Dylan Morris’ 16-yard scamper to pay dirt. Zack Cook booted the extra point to give Man a 7-0 lead with 8:08 left in the first period.
Man pushed its lead to 13-0 at the 9:56 mark of the second period on a 1-yard QB sneak by senior Cameron Simpson. Cook’s kick failed. Man marched 80 yards on 17 plays.
Bluefield then put up its first points of the game, driving 63 yards on eight plays, capped off by a 5-yard run by Collier with 5:38 to go until halftime. Kaulin Parris booted the PAT to make it 13-7.
Man then got the ball back on its own 33-yard line and moved the football down to the Beavers’ 43-yard line but a costly fumble gave the ball back to Bluefield at the Beavers’ 35-yard line.
Just three plays later Bluefield cashed in on the Man mistake and took the lead at 14-13 on a 36-yard TD strike from quarterback Cody Fuller to Donta Hopkins. The Parris kick was good with 1:24 in the second stanza. That would be the halftime score as both teams headed to the locker room.
The Man defense then held Bluefield on downs forcing a punt to start the third quarter.
The Billies then got the lead back on their first possession of the second half, driving 65 yards in eight plays as Simpson got his second TD of the game on a 1-yard sneak. Dylan Morris ran in the 2-point conversion as Man took a 21-14 lead with 5:59 to go in the third quarter. The drive was kept alive on a 33-yard pass from Simpson to Nick Collins.
Once agin the Man defense, led by Matt Sanders, Tyler Blair and Brock Muncy held the Beavers as Man would take a 21-14 lead heading into the final period of play.
Bluefield started on its own 41-yard line to start the fourth quarter and drove the pigskin the Billies’ 11-yard line but the Man defense bent but did not break as they forced the Beavers to kick a 28-yard field goal by Parris at the 7:48 mark to make it 21-17.
Bluefield then forced Man to punt on its next possession and Sanders’ punt pinned the Beavers back to their own 4-yard line.
BHS drove the ball to the Man 43-yard line and on fourth-and-six the Billies’ defense held and took over on downs at the 3:02 mark.
Man needed just one first down to ice the game as the Beavers were out of timeouts but Bluefield held Man, forcing a punt by Sanders.
Collier then scooped the ball up and raced 85 yards to pay dirt, giving the Beavers what proved to be the game winning score and a heartbreaking 24-21 loss for the Billies.
“I knew the team needed a big play and I was praying to God and Mike Price gave me a big block and God took me to the end zone. It was a great feeling. I am blessed,” Collier said after the game.
Man was led in rushing by Morris with 103 yards rushing on 22 carries and one TD.
Simpson had 48 yards on seven attempts and two touchdowns while Charles Rosser had 48 yards on 10 carries.
Simpson was 4 of 9 passing for 54 yards.
Man was led on defense by Sanders with 11 tackles, followed by Blair and Muncy with eight each. Seth Chapman had six tackles, while Trey Whitt had five and Austin Bragg, Collins and D.J. Browning had three each.
Bluefield was led by Collier, who had 61 yards on 11 carries and the game winning punt return of 85 yards. Fuller was 14 of 31 passing for 167 yards and one TD.
Man hosts undefeated and No. 3-ranked Point Pleasant next Friday night. The Big Blacks (7-0) were idle on Friday night.
Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.
Jessica Davis was crowned at halftime as the Man Homecoming Queen.
2016 Man High School
Football Schedule (4-3):
Aug. 25: at Logan (Coalfield Kickoff Classic), L 13-48
Sept. 2: Mount View (Hall of Fame Game), W 45-44 (3OT)
Sept. 9: Westside, W 27-14
Sept. 16: at River View, W 7-0 (OT)
Sept. 23: Open Date
Sept. 30: at Lincoln County, W 25-10
Oct. 7: at Chapmanville, L 21-40
Oct. 14: Bluefield, L 21-24
Oct. 21: Point Pleasant, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 28: Tug Valley, 7:30 p.m.
Nov. 4: at Van, 7:30 p.m.