A tough early schedule paid dividends Friday as Williamsburg (3-3) opened district play with a dominating 54-6 victory at Berea (1-5), leaving little doubt the Jackets are a top contender for a district title this season.
“They came up to me at halftime and said ‘coach, thanks for that tough schedule,” Williamsburg Head Coach Jerry Herron said. His team had a 32-0 halftime lead.
“They weren’t thanking me last week when it was going bad, but I think they’ve realized that when you play teams like that, it gets you ready for district. We are trying to be where teams like Hazard are at. You’ve got to play the good teams to move up.”
The quarterback tandem of senior Chris Lowrie and Logan Hamblin shredded the Berea defense for over 250 yards of offense and four touchdowns in the first half alone.
While its air attack proved lethal later in the game, it was Williamsburg’s grinding ground game that proved effective early. As torrential rains began to fall right at kickoff, Herron said his team was essentially forced to keep it on the ground — something his players responded to well.
The Jackets engineered a masterful 15-play drive that included only two passes to cover 80 yards. Hamblin connected with junior receiver Kevin Hoffman for an eight-yard touchdown pass. A successful rush by Lowrie on the two-point conversion put gave Williamsburg an 8-0 lead.
The Pirates and Williamsburg traded interceptions later in the first quarter, but when a Jacket drive stalled on the Berea 16-yard line early in the second, it was defensive back Kevin Hoffman who made the pick that would set up Williamsburg’s next score — a 17-yard run by Lowrie to make it 16-0 with 9:00 to go in the half.
It was a combination of Pirate mistakes and the Jackets defense that sealed the game early.
Williamsburg sophomore Micah Purdie knocked away a fourth-down pass by Pirate junior quarterback Darius Walker with 5:01 to go in the half that could have extended the drive. A fumbled handoff by Berea with about three minutes to play snuffed out a fourth-and-two opportunity on the Jacket’s side of the field.
Both plays led to Williamsburg scores — a 23-yard scoring pass from Hamblin to senior wide receiver J.P. Payne with 4:21 to play in the half, and another 16-yard score by the same two players with 2:21 to play, followed by successful two-point conversions.
Berea’s tailspin continued in the second half. Payne scored again from 35 yards out on a pass from Hamblin with 9:19 to go in the third quarter. Lowrie caught a 33-yard strike from Hamblin less than a minute later, and Hoffman capped the Jackets’ scoring with a 39-yard scamper to score in the fourth quarter.
Almost mercifully, Berea got on the board with 3:05 to go in the game with a one-yard dive by sophomore running back Robert Reed, but a two-point conversion failed. Berea recovered an ensuing onside kick, but could not threaten despite their fortune.
Herron said he felt his team deflated Berea by going straight at the Pirate defense early and exposing weaknesses.
“I think we got their kids frustrated and they didn’t know what to do,” Herron said. “We knew we were just going to line up and run the football at them … go forward and hit them in the mouth. It opened up the passing game just like we wanted it to.”
A total of six Williamsburg players did not dress due to injuries or violation of team rules. Herron would not say which players were involved, but projected starting quarterback Ethan Powers, a senior, was among the group, still suffering the effects of a hip pointer.
Williamsburg will be in action again Friday at Clinton County, another district matchup. Berea defeated Clinton the first game of the season 8-6.
Williamsburg 54, Berea 6
Williamsburg 8 24 22 0- 54
Berea 0 0 0 6- 6
W – Kevin Hoffman 8 pass from Logan Hamblin (Chris Lowrie rush) 4:16
W – Chris Lowrie 17 run (Logan Hamblin rush) 9:00
W – J.P. Payne 23 pass from Logan Hamblin (Logan Hamblin rush) 4:21
W – J.P. Payne 16 pass from Logan Hamblin (Travis Thomas rush) 2:21
W – J.P. Payne 35 pass from Logan Hamblin (Kevin Hoffman rush) 9:19
W – Chris Lowrie 33 pass from Logan Hamblin (Logan Hamblin pass failed) 8:43
W – Kevin Hoffman 39 run (Logan Hamblin rush) 3:13
B – Robert Reed 1 run (Darius Whitaker pass failed) 3:05