Note: This recap appears in the Sunday, Sept. 15 newspaper on Page B1.
PARKERSBUG, W.Va. — Until Friday night, the Bulldogs were operating under the assumption that with just a couple more plays they easily could be 2-0 instead of 0-2.
But an avalanche of second quarter misfortune, and the dazzling feet of Brandon Penn, left Athens with no easy answers and saddled with an 0-3 record.
Penn, Parkersburg South’s blazing fast and jitterbug quick QB, rushed for 195 yards and three touchdowns as the Patriots ripped Athens, 42-20, at the Erickson All-Sports Facility on Friday. The Patriots (3-0) scored 42 straight points after the Bulldogs (0-3) opened the game with an impressive touchdown drive.
Athens added a couple of fourth-quarter scores once down 42-7, but there’s no doubt the Bulldogs hit the low point of the barely-begun Nathan White era. This wasn’t a rally that ran out of time, or a lead that evaporated. The Bulldogs were simply dispatched.
“I’m pretty short on words right now,” said White, Athens’ first-year head coach. “It was tough to talk to the kids. We got to do a little bit of soul searching.
“I just feel like garbage right now,” he continued. “They were a really good team, but they also out-coached us. Very bad taste in my mouth right now.”
Parkersburg South has blitzed through the early portion of its schedule — the 42 points were a season low so far — and with Penn it’s easy to see why. More than capable of stretching the field vertically with his passing arm, Penn was even more dangerous on the ground.
Penn had 60 yards and a touchdown in the first half as the Patriots built a 28-7 halftime lead. He then knocked out the Bulldogs for good with two long TD runs in the second.
On the fourth play of the second half, Penn kept the ball on a zone read and took off toward the left side. He smoothly juked an Athens safety, without breaking stride, and then out ran everyone else for the 74-yard score.
Early in the fourth, Penn did it again. This time he escaped the pocket on a passing play, whizzed by a linebacker and raced untouched for a 41-yard score. Penn finished the night 9 of 12 passing for 125 yards and touchdown, giving him more than 300 yards of offense and four total touchdowns.
“He’s an incredible athlete. We knew he was a good player on tape, but I didn’t realize he was that good either,” White said.
“He’s got a really strong arm, but with his feet — he’s special. He looked different than everybody else out there tonight.”
Burly running back Devin Gaines added 52 yards rushing and two more touchdowns for the Patriots and seven different players notched receptions.
Incredibly, Athens nearly matched Parkersburg South yard for yard. The Bulldogs had 398 yards of offense, the Patriots had 399, but missed opportunities and a dreadful second quarter proved to be deciding factors.
Athens QB Joey Moore threw for 241 yards and three touchdowns, and added a team-high 82 yards rushing. But Moore also lost two fumbles, both inside the Patriot 20.
Moore’s first TD pass, a simple four-yard out to a diving Nate Trainer, gave Athens a 7-0 lead after the first possession. But, Dylan Day’s 47-yard kick off return and Gaines’ three-yard touchdown run quickly tied it.
Athens’ next drive ended inside the Patriot 20 when Moore was sacked, and fumbled, on third down and goal.
Things only got worse from there on a haunted Friday the 13th for the Bulldogs. Penn found Jake Hogsett all alone in the end zone for a 30-yard touchdown pass — on third-and-21 — as the Patriots broke on top 14-7 early in the second quarter.
Parkersburg South then recovered a surprise onside kick, but didn’t get points when Ben Haught’s 36-yard field goal drifted wide right.
But on the subsequent possession, Moore’s punt from his own end zone was partially blocked. The Patriots took advantage and scored four plays later on Gaines’ 10-yard option pitch to the right side.
Penn finished off the next drive with a nine-yard touchdown keeper and the Patriots led 28-7.
Athens ended the half with Moore fumbling again, this time inside the 10, after scrambling to pick up a fourth-and-eight.
In the span of 11 minutes of game time, Athens gave up an onside kick, had a punt blocked, was called for five penalties and then lost a fumble in the red zone.
“It certainly had a snowball effect feel to it,” White said. “When stuff starts going like that, you’re trying to get to halftime and regroup.”
Athens found more offense late as Moore fired 35-yard and then 42-yard touchdown passes to the post, to Corbin Stalder and Reece Wallace respectively. But it was too little, and way too late.
The Bulldogs won’t have time to sulk. Undefeated county rival Alexander (3-0) visits The Plains next week for the Tri-Valley Conference Ohio Division opener for both teams.
It’s no time to wallow in self-pity, White said.
“The only thing we know how to do to fix bad stuff, or keep the good stuff rolling, is to wake up tomorrow and go hard again. So that’s what we’re going to do.
“Luckily this 0-3 stretch leads us into league play, which is easy to get ready for,” he added. “Our kids are going to be ready to go play Alexander.”
Parkersburg South 42, Athens 20
Athens 7 0 0 13 — 20
Park. South 7 21 7 7 — 42
Athens — Nate Trainer, 4-yard pass from Joey Moore (Drake George kick), 8:01, 1Q
Park. South — Devin Gaines, 3-yard run (Ben Haught kick), 6:57, 1Q
Park. South — Jake Hogsett, 3-yard pass from Brandon Penn (Haught kick), 11:42, 2Q
Park. South — Devin Gaines, 10-yard run (Haught kick), 7:13, 2Q
Park. South — Brandon Penn, 9-yard run (Haught kick), 2:53, 2Q
Park. South — Brandon Penn, 74-yard run (Haught kick), 10:30, 3Q
Park. South — Brandon Penn, 41-yard run (Haught kick), 11:04, 4Q
Athens — Corbin Stalder, 35-yard pass from Joey Moore (kick failed), 8:05, 4Q
Athens — Reece Wallace, 42-yard pass from Joey Moore (George kick), 0.24, 4Q
First downs 16 16
Total Plays 59 52
Rushing (plys-yds) 30-157 36-262
Passing yards 241 137
Total yards 398 399
Passes (cmp-att-int) 18-29-0 12-16-0
Fumbles (no-lost) 3-2 1-0
Penalties (no-yds) 8-80 6-35
Punts (no-avg) 3-19.7 2-40.0
Athens — Joey Moore 22-82, Nate Trainer 2-43, Peyton Gail 3-24, Corbin Stalder 3-8; Parkersburg South — Brandon Penn 15-195 3 TDs, Devin Gaines 16-52 2 TDs, Sam Schuler 2-10, Corey Beverage 1-8, Dylan Day 1-2, TEAM 1-(-5).
Athens — Joey Moore 18-29-0 241 3 TDs; Parkersburg South — Brandon Penn 9-12-0 125 TD, Sam Schuler 3-4-0 12.
Athens — Nate Trainer 7-56 TD, Corbin Stalder 5-76 TD, Brayden Markins 4-45, Reece Wallace 1-42 TD, Peyton Gail 1-22; Parkersburg South — Jake Hogsett 3-39 TD, Dylan Day 3-30, Devin Gaines 2-10, Levi Rice 1-37, Sam Schuler 1-14, Cyrus Traugh 1-7, Landon Francisco 1-0.