PHILIPPI - It would be hard to find a more entertaining opener than Friday night's contest between Grafton and Philip Barbour at George Byrer Field.
Bearcat kicker Zachary Rowand calmly drilled a 23-yard field goal with four seconds remaining to give Grafton a thrilling 31-28 victory in what a rollercoaster contest.
Rowand culminated the frantic final drive, by delivering his game-winner after three Colt timeouts, a pair of penalties (five yards each way on both teams) and one made field goal that was nullified by one of the said penalties. In fact, his field goal that counted almost looked like an instant replay of the one that was negated.
The Inter-Mountain photo by Andrew Davis
Philip Barbour’s Dillon Newman looks to get outside as Grafton’s Drew Walters and Tyler Moore (10) give chase Friday night in the Colts’ 31-28 loss at George Byrer Field.
"He was totally zeroed in on it from the time we put the field goal team out there," Grafton head coach Mark Yoho. "We told him to just relax and do what he has been taught to do, and he and the entire unit did a nice job of staying focused and executing."
Early on, it appeared that Grafton would win a little easier. They were winning the stat battle and had accumulated a 14-0 lead. Alex Gabbard scored the first tally on the game's first drive hauling in a 22-yard toss from quarterback Ivy Bartlett. Zach Kimbrew extended the lead to two touchdowns at the 5:29 mark of the second quarter, scoring from two yards out.
Philip Barbour responded with a strong drive to end the half. Dillon Newman rambled in from the six, and Tyler Schiefelbein's extra point, his first of a perfect four-for-four night (matching Rowand's) made the score 14-7 at the half. It was a foreshadowing of the second half fireworks to come.
Newman tied the game midway through the third quarter, scoring on a weaving 52-yard punt return. But Grafton's Alex Aichele put the Bearcats back up 21-14 on a 12-yard score minutes later. Newman retaliated with a 33-yard scamper to t ie the contest 21-21 after three quarters, and a Harley Davis three-yard run early in the fourth quarter gave the Colts their first lead of the night, 28-21.
Grafton tied the game with 9:48 remaining as Bartlett connected with Joe Christopher from 23 yards to tie the contest. This set the stage for Rowand's end of the night heroics.
"Both teams hung in there and showed a lot of character," Yoho said. "I am very proud of our kids. They hung in there and made the plays that they had to make to get the win. We made a lot of mistakes, but we bounced back and didn't give up."
Grafton outgained Philip Barbour 488 to 173 in total yards, and collected 25 first downs to eight for the Colts.
Bartlett closed the night with a solid 11-of-15 through the air for 228 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. Christopher was the key target, catching six passes for 124 yards.
The Bearcat running game ended with 250 yards. led by Aichele's 164 yards on 29 totes.
Davis led the Philip Barbour rushing attack with 71 yards on 14 carries, while Newman closed the night 141 all-purpose yards.
The Colts will travel to Lincoln next Friday