POCA — Poca coach Bob Lemley had a few tricks up his sleeve and threw everything he had at Wayne Friday night.
While some of those plays worked for the outmanned Dots against the top-ranked Class AA Pioneers, the majority didn’t.
In the end, Wayne forced four turnovers and remained unbeaten with a 48-21 victory at Poca in front of a crowd of about 700.
Lemley tried several gadget plays from a five-wide-receiver look, two halfback passes and an onside kick, but four interceptions — three in the first half — killed any chance of a Poca upset.
“To line straight up against Wayne is tough to do so we had to try something and attempted a few halfback passes,” Lemley said. “Even though we got one to work, one didn’t and they capitalized on our mistakes.”
Trailing 13-0 and facing a second-and-21 on the Wayne 33-yard line on the first play of the second quarter, Poca quarterback Jamie Barnhart handed off to Derek McClure, who found a wide-open Josh Jenkins for a TD to cut the deficit to six.
The Dots (3-6) recovered a Pioneer fumble on the Poca 42-yard line and had momentum on their side with 9:41 left in the second quarter. But on the next play, Barnhart was intercepted by Wayne’s Bradley Abbett, who returned the ball to the Dot 45, and a personal-foul penalty on Poca gave the Pioneers great field position.
Four plays later, Wayne (8-0) scored to take a 13-point lead and regain control. On the next Poca possession, Barnhart was intercepted again and the Pioneers cashed in to take a 27-7 halftime lead.
“We got a turnover and tried to catch them asleep but it didn’t work, and they got some interceptions and turned the game around,” Lemley said. “They made the big plays when they had to.”
“The first turnover we got was real important because [Poca] was playing us tough and things were going their way,” said Wayne halfback Garry Roland, who ran for 122 yards on 13 carries and scored three touchdowns.
Poca attempted an onside kick to begin the third quarter but the ball only went about 3 yards and again gave Wayne excellent field position.
A 43-yard drive on eight plays capped off by a Dana Lycans 13-yard TD run gave the Pioneers a commanding 34-7 lead. Two more Wayne touchdowns in the third quarter all but sealed the victory.
Poca scored two late touchdowns in the fourth quarter on a 25-yard run by Heath Barrett and 13-yard run by Cody French against the Wayne second- and third-team defense.
To go along with Roland’s big night running the ball, Wayne quarterback Nicholas Newell also had a solid night, rushing for 86 yards on nine carries and throwing for 89 yards. As a team, Wayne rushed for 312 yards on 39 attempts.
“We were able to run the ball and pass it pretty effectively. A team needs to be able to do both,” Wayne coach Tom Harmon said. “We were able to establish the run early and it opened up some other things later.”
“Wayne is a heck of a team,” Lemley said. “They are solid in all areas and well balanced. It’s going to take a very good team for someone to beat them.”