CLEAR FORK – It just seems like it’s getting better and better for the Man High School football team.
The Hillbillies beat a Class AA opponent for the second straight week as Man went on the road on Friday night and downed the Westside Renegades 22-14 at Clear Fork.
Man improved to 2-1 on the season and matched its win total from last year.
The Billies, which have suffered three straight losing grid campaigns since reaching the Super Six in Wheeling four years ago, have positioned themselves into the early Class A playoff picture.
Man’s defense was the difference against the Renegades (1-2).
After giving up 14 first quarter points to the Renegades, Man’s “Blue Funk” defense held the home team scoreless through the final three periods of play as the Billies won back-to-back road games for the first time since 2009.
Braden Griffin returned to the Man backfield after banging up his shoulder in the season opening Logan game and sitting out last week at Mount View. He ended up having a huge game as he rushed for 135 yards on 18 carries and scored two touchdowns.
Man sophomore quarterback John Thomas Keffer was 12-for-21 passing for 120 yards and a touchdown.
“This was our best defensive performance since 2009,” Man coach Harvey Arms said. “It was a total team effort tonight. Our kids battled to the end and we came away with a big win.”
Leading Man’s defense was led by Neil Mullins with seven tackles. Robert Caudill and Christian McCoy had six tackles each. Cayce Mullins and McCoy had one QB sack each. Man’s defense also scored two safeties for four points in a football rarity.
Man didn’t waste any time in getting on the scoreboard as Griffin raced in for a 58-yard TD run down the Man sideline on the first play from scrimmage. The two-point conversion failed but the Billies led 6-0 at the 9:48 mark of the opening quarter.
Just two minutes later, the Renegades took the lead at 8-6, marching 67 yards on eight plays, capped off by a 28-yard TD run by Mike Mullins. Backup QB Larry Cook, playing for Westside’s top player Justin Cogar, who suffered a broken ankle in a scrimmage game, found Mullins in the end zone for the two-point conversion at the 7:02 mark.
The Billies’ offense was then stopped on their next possession by Westside. A 15-yard loss on a bad snap halted Man’s drive and gave the Renegades good field possession at midfield.
A facemask penalty on Man moved the ball to the Billies’ 35-yard line and then just two plays later Mullins struck pay dirt on an 18-yard run. The PAT pass attempt failed but Westside led 14-6 with 3:22 remaining in the first quarter. That proved to be all of the Renegades’ points of the game.
The Billies’ defense then put two points on the board with 6:31 left until halftime as Jeremiah Beavers and Gage Harvey sacked Mullins in the end zone for a safety to make it 14-8.
Man would then tie the game up with 2:14 left until the intermission as Keffer hooked up with his cousin Cayce Mullins for a 10-yard TD pass. The two-point conversion pass play failed but Man had tied up the game 14-14.
Westside appeared to have taken the lead in the third quarter as Corey Bowles broke loose on a 95-yard touchdown catch. The score, however, was nullified as the Renegades were called on an illegal man downfield penalty.
Later on third-and-33 Mullins was racing deep in the end zone trying to pass as he was harassed by Man’s Noah Maynard and Mikle Scott Rowe. The Westside QB then threw the ball away and was called for intentional grounding in the end zone, which resulted in a safety. The two points put Man ahead for good at 16-14 midway into the third quarter.
Man got the ball back on the kick from Westside and got good field position at the 50-yard line. The Billies drove deep into Westside territory, when on fourth down, Keffer’s pass was picked off at the 2-yard line.
Man’s defense then forced the Renegades to punt out of their own end zone. Bowles shanked the punt, giving Man the ball at the Renegades’ 26-yard line as the third quarter came to an end.
Three plays later, Griffin scored on a 6-yard TD run to put the Billies on top 22-14. The conversion failed but Man led by eight with 11:56 to go in the game. The scoreboard clock didn’t work all night long as the referees had to keep the time on the field.
Westside got the pigskin back but could not move the ball, turning it over on downs at its own 46-yard stripe.
Man was then able to take some time off the clock and got a big 15-yard run by Rowe for a first down to chew up some more time.
Westside, though, was able to stop the Billies on downs but Man was able to eat up some more clock as the Renegades didn’t get the football until the 4-minute mark of the game on their own 12-yard line.
Westside only took it to the 29 where the drive stalled and Man took over on downs. The Billies then ran out the clock to preserve the win.
Cayce Mullins had eight catches for 90 yards and a TD for Man. Tracy Jones had four grabs for 30 yards.
The Billies had 263 yards of total offense and held Westside to only 138 yards. Mike Mullins had 120 yards rushing and two TDs for WHS.
Man had 13 first downs to Westside’s 10 and led the time of possession battle 29:58 to 18:02. Man was flagged three times for 30 yards. Westside had five yellow hankies for 35 yards.
The Billies are scheduled to return to action with this coming Friday night’s home game against River View, another Class AA team. It will also be the Man Hall of Fame Game for the Billies as the school will induct its newest class.
This year’s Man High School Athletic Hall of Fame class includes: Richard Daniels (Class of 1957); Gretchen Adkins Donahue (Class of 1962); Tim McCoy (Class of 1974); Kenneth Ray Ramsey Sr. (Class of 1975); Alex Terry (Class of 1982); John Keffer (Class of 1988); Joey Robinson (Class of 1994); and Chris Harvey (Class of 1999).
This year’s hall of fame class will be honored on Thursday with a golf outing and banquet. The golf outing is set to begin at 11 a.m. and will take place at the Triadelphia Country Club in Man. Registration is 10 a.m.
Then on Thursday night there will be a “meet and greet” at 6 p.m. at the Man Memorial Fieldhouse. The hall of fame dinner will then follow at 7 p.m.
The hall of fame inductees will also be honored before Friday night’s River View game at Man’s George A. Queen Memorial Field.
There will be a hospitality tent for members and guests at the east end zone. There will be community recognition of the inductees at halftime.
Look for more on the hall of fame inductees in Tuesday’s sports section.
— Logan Banner Sports Editor Paul Adkins contributed to this report.
2013 Man High School
Football Schedule (2-1):
Aug. 30: Logan, L 20-40
Sept. 6: at Mount View, W 44-0
Sept. 13: at Westside, W 22-14
Sept. 20: River View, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 27: OPEN DATE
Oct. 4: at Fayetteville, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 11: Chapmanville, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 18: at Sherman, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 25: Pocahontas County, 7:30 p.m.
Nov. 1: at Tug Valley, 7:30 p.m.
Nov. 8: Van, 7:30 p.m.