NITRO -- Along with their new era of football under the guidance of first-year coach Joey Fields came an enthusiastic style of play as the visiting Herbert Hoover Huskies earned an exciting 49-13 victory over the eager Nitro Wildcats Tuesday night at Underwood Field.
Coming off a 28-21 loss to Sissonville last week, the Huskies are continuing to build their program from the ground up, relying on the pass-and-catch combination of senior quarterback Nick Grayam and Mingo Central transfer Devin Hatfield, accompanied by the inside running of bullish fullback Hunter Bartley.
“That’s a good football team in our locker room right now. We just gotta learn how to play with a lead,” said Fields. “We were coming off the ball and getting hats on hats. I’m pleased.”
The game began in a shootout as both teams rolled up and down the gridiron, scoring at will. The Huskies’ Bartley ran it in from 20 yards out for the initial score, followed by Nitro’s Bryce Myers taking it in on a 33-yard end-around to even the score at 7-7. Grayam countered with a 15-yard scamper to put Herbert Hoover up 14-7.
The Huskies then came up with a stop at their own 33-yard line, taking over on downs with 2:40 to go in the quarter. Two plays later, Grayam found a wide-open Hatfield down the sideline for a 59-yard touchdown toss to put Hoover up 21-7.
Penalties and shanked punts on both sides kept each team out of the end zone in the second quarter until Hoover managed a drive with three minutes left ending in a 6-yard touchdown pass to Hatfield with 11 seconds left until the break. Hatfield caught six passes for 115 yards in the first half alone.
“Our run game really opened up the pass game. We were just able to air it out and had some good play calling,” said Hatfield.
Having fallen short against St. Albans in the Battle For the Bridge the previous week, the Wildcats came into the game still building their program under third-year coach Zach Davis.
“Penalties just killed us. That was the story,” said Davis. “We are just so thin right now with only 28 players.”
The Huskies opened the second half driving downfield and scoring in three plays, ending with a 20-yard scamper by Grayam. He found Hatfield again on an 18-yard TD later in the quarter to put the game out of reach.
For the Huskies, Bartley finished the night with 13 carries for 127 yards. Grayam added 84 yards on 10 carries to complement his 14-of-21 passing for 275 yards. Hatfield ended the night with eight catches for 145 yards and three touchdowns.
The Wildcats’ Lowe ended the game connecting on 8 of 18 passes for 123 yards. Tailback Myers added 74 yards on five carries.