BRIDGEPORT, W.Va — When Robert C. Byrd and Bridgeport squared off back in September, the Flying Eagles racked up 369 rushing yards and only a furious fourth quarter rally kept the Indians from falling to their Harrison County rivals.
No rally was needed Friday night in the Class AA quarterfinals as the Indians rolled to a 42-7 victory. BHS has defeated RCB twelve consecutive times over the last eight seasons.
Jake Bowen rushed the ball 27 times for 253 yards and three touchdowns as part of a dominating ground attack that set the tone early in the contest. Trey Pancake added 68 yards on just eight carries. Bridgeport rushed the ball 48 times for 353 yards.
In two playoff games, Bowen has rushed for 510 yards on 50 carries with six touchdowns. “He’s not normal,” said Bridgeport offensive coordinator Tyler Phares. “We make holes for (Bowen) up front but the stuff that he does after he breaks through the first level is something that not every school gets.”
The Robert C. Byrd offense, which entered the game rushing for a program-best 3,305 yards in the first eleven games of the season, was held to just 118 rushing yards on 34 attempts. “Obviously the defense was the story,” said Bridgeport head coach John Cole. “Playing hard and playing well at this time of the year is all you can ask for.”
“We did make some major scheme adjustments with the 4-4 scheme this week,” said Bridgeport defensive coordinator Adam King. “Our kids were young at the time when we played them. But we have grown up a lot. We are eight weeks away from when we played them the last time. We had seven new starters and the kids had really improved throughout the year.”
Bridgeport scored touchdowns on each of their four possessions in the first half. Devin Vandergrift opened the scoring with an 8-yard run on a quarterback keeper. Late in the first quarter, Trey Pancake burst through a hole and toted the ball 42 yards to extend the BHS lead to 14-0 at the end of the opening stanza.
In the second quarter, Bowen scored on runs of 30 and 8 yards. The second touchdown came on 4th-and-2 to make the score 28-0 at the half.
Bowen added his third score of the night on a 42-yard run just 83 seconds into the second half. D’Andre Hollaway capped the Bridgeport scoring with a 1-yard run in the final minute of the third quarter.
Ghovan Davidson put the Flying Eagles on the board with a 1-yard score on 4th-and-goal late in the third quarter. With 74 yards rushing, Davidson became RCB’s single-season yardage leader. He also caps his career as the all-time leading rusher in program history with 4,184 yards.
RCB’s Xavier Lopez completed 7 of 10 passes for 76 yards. Andrew Sponaugle reeled in five of those throws for 45 yards.
Robert C. Byrd’s season ends at 9-3.
Bridgeport advances to the state semifinals for the eighth consecutive season. They will face the winner of Saturday’s game between Keyser and Bluefield. “We are playing pretty good right now,” Cole said. “We’ve got some weapons we didn’t have last year.”