Shadyside Rallied For Homecoming Milestone Victory Over Cougars

The Cougars pounced into Ohio attacking the end zone on the opening drive and maintained the lead until the start of the fourth quarter, then Shadyside commandeered a rally to save homecoming 21-7 and notched the 100th career victory for the head coach in the centennial year of the program on Saturday afternoon.

East Hardy looked poised and ready in the beginning against Shadyside which was a new opponent and about a four hour drive into the Buckeye state, but the Cougars let opportunities slip away as the Tigers became more rejuvenated in the end clawing back in this battle of the cats.

Shadyside head coach Mark Holenka credited his 100th career win to having great players and coaching staff throughout his 11 seasons at the helm.

“It is really special, especially since we have been struggling and lost some close games. Things finally began to gel and click for us in the second half against East Hardy. Things finally went our way. It is special, but it is a testament in the 11 1/2 years I have been a head coach means I have been surrounded by a lot of good athletes and awfully good coaching staff,” Shadyside coach Mark Holenka stated.

“Wyatt [Reiman] is our stallion, he is our stud. When he goes, he goes. He had a breakout game, but we had to wait until the second half. He is the one that has to line up for the field goals and at least he got the field goal and not the extra points. He made the big one there which gave us the comfort zone and the rest of the team did the blocking. It was a total team effort out there in the second half. Wyatt blew out the candles, but it was a team effort. The first drive they exploited us on the pass, but what really hurt us was early penalties and they threw the long bomb. That is what we have been struggling with leading to points. When we rushed the punter, I thought that would lead to points, but they didn’t score. Although, they ate up a bunch of clock. The defense toughened up and didn’t let them score when they got close to the red zone several times which was the difference in the game.”

East Hardy opened the game on its own 35-yard line after a kickoff return by Christian Dove and scored in under three minutes on seven plays.

Dove went to work quickly in his quarterback role connecting with Brayden Ritchie for a 14-yard first down pass, then Noah Lang added two yards on the ground.

Dove utilized a hard count to create two consecutive offsides penalties on the Tigers for another first down and went back to the air on the ensuing sequence.

East Hardy standout receiver Dawson Price towered above the defender leaping up to snatch a 36-yard pass placing the Cougars deep in the red zone at the three yard line.

After a loss on the next play, East Hardy’s Alex Miller hammered through the line for a touchdown and Noah Lang tacked on the extra point for a 7-nil edge at the 9:09 mark.

“They did a nice job scouting us and setting up their game plan. I felt they held us in check with their defense holding our offense. Hats off to them and we got what we expected coming up here, a great team in Shadyside. Our guys came out early and played really well and I was pleased with that, but our depth caught up with us finally. Not having very many subs and not being in shape due to the COVID-19 summer, so we need to clean up a lot if we are going to compete for a championship this year,” East Hardy coach Devon Orndorff commented.

“As much as I tip my hat to Shadyside, we certainly killed ourselves. You can’t have the ball on the 30 going in and not even pick up a first down. You can’t almost return three kicks for touchdowns, but equate no points out of that. We felt we won the special teams battle for the most part, but we weren’t able to capitalize on it. We have to go back to the drawing board and work even harder. They identified the young guys when we had them on the field and attacked those guys. They were more sound with their technique and capitalized on it.”

After the kickoff by Price went out of bounds, the Tigers were beginning their possession at the same location from the 35-yard line and the result was different with just one first down and a punt.

Shadyside’s first down came on a second down catch by Karl Tsoras on a throw by quarterback Rhys Francis being forced out at midfield on the 13-yard play.

The Tigers’ big playmaker Wyatt Reiman had a slow start before gaining traction in the fourth quarter but did add on two carries for nine yards on this drive with stops by East Hardy’s Dove, Ritchie, Andrew Tharp and Mason Miller.

Facing third down and one, Shadyside’s Jacob Visnic was slammed down for a loss by Cougars defensive tackle Erik Flynn which forced[private] the punt.

The astroturf was bit to get used to for East Hardy as Alex Miller tripped up in the backfield, but managed to return to the line of scrimmage at the 15-yard line being tackled there by Visnic.

Ritchie added five yards on a reception as the Cougars now faced third down and five.

Dove made a spinning move to avoid a couple tackles before being sandwiched by Shadyside’s Tsoras and Gage Joseph, but not before picking up a first down at the 30-yard line.

Shadyside’s Jordan Joseph read the next pass play and nearly had an interception, but the daylight in front of him caused him to have the ball ricochet off his hands and the following pass went too far.

The third down play was whistled dead in the backfield with Dove scrambling.

East Hardy punted with the Tigers being assessed a roughing the kicker penalty and the Cougars garnered a first down at the 35-yard line.

The new life for the drive looked to help the Cougars as Dove notched a first down on an 11-yard chase down the sidelines and Price caught a pass for another first down going an additional 11 yards with Shadyside’s Rhys Francis making a shoelace tackle at the Tigers 43-yard line.

Miller rushed for two yards, then Ritchie caught a first down pass for nine yards slamming over Shadyside’s Alec Shepherd clinging on for the tackle.

The Cougars kept on moving with a dozen yard keeper by Dove reaching the red zone and Miller notching two more yards to end the first quarter on the 18-yard line.

Unfortunately, this was one of those opportunities to score which slipped away from East Hardy.

Dove made an aerial attack to the end zone with Andrew Tharp leaping backwards trying to haul in the pass, but it was knocked away by Shadyside’s Francis.

Miller gained three yards on the ground and it was fourth down and five for the Cougars, but the conversion attempt went awry as a collision in the end zone between Price and Francis had the ball falling into obscurity without a flag thrown.

The Tigers took over possession on downs at the 15-yard line and Reiman grabbed a first down on a 14-yard run with Tharp making the stop along the sideline as Miller came to assist finishing the play.

East Hardy’s Riley Mongold made a tackle for no gain, then the Tigers had two passes sail incomplete leading to a punt.

The Cougars had good field possession at the 42-yard line, but failed to pounce on a first down despite drawing Shadyside offsides on a hard count again as Miller had lost yardage, one pass went too high for Ritchie and Dove’s scrambled with a toss to the sidelines where nobody was standing during a chase which had the punt crew assigned moments later.

Shadyside punt returner Jordan Joseph struggled to pick the ball up and was slammed to the gridiron by Price at the 13-yard line.

After a six yard run by Reiman, Alec Shepherd caught a five yard pass for the Tigers creating a first down at the 26-yard line.

Francis threw an incomplete screen pass prior to Reiman adding five more yards on the ground with East Hardy’s Mason Miller and Andrew Tharp flipping him down coincidently as Tharp swiped the ball during the flip only having Reiman ruled down by contact.

Shadyside couldn’t muster another first down as Dove made a jarring hit on a receiver leading to a punt.

Mason Miller notched two yards rushing on the first play for the Cougars to reach the 33-yard line, then Tharp made a catch and was pushed out with a Tigers face mask penalty called on the sequence resulting in a first down on the Shadyside 46-yard line.

Dove called his own number on the next two plays gaining four yards with a neck tackle by Visnic and a spinning evasive move creating a first down on seven yard keeper with Andrew Osman getting the stop at the 35-yard line.

East Hardy’s chance to score with this position on the field turned sour as an errant snap caused a six yard loss and there was offensive holding on the ensuing play backing up the Cougars deep.

A pass went too high for Lang to haul down, then Dove managed to gain some of the negative yards back dashing outside and it was still fourth down and long with the Cougars punting the ball.

Shadyside converted a third down as Francis picked up seven yards to reach the 35-yard line and was taken down at the ankles by East Hardy’s Alex Miller.

The next three pass plays were incomplete as the Cougars’ Lang and Tharp defended on the plays to force a punt with 36 seconds remaining in the second quarter.

East Hardy started near midfield and gained one yard, then Dove launched the ball and it was intercepted by Shadyside’s Mason VanNest and the Tigers took a knee to close the half with the Cougars holding a 7-0 advantage.

Shadyside started the third quarter on its own 31-yard line with Visnic rising for three yards and Tharp made the stop for the Cougars.

The Tigers offensive line fell down as Francis connected with Elijah Brooks on a five yard slant pass and Lang made the tackle.

East Hardy’s Tharp and Mason Miller made a stop for no gain leading to a Shadyside punt at 10:02.

Facing third down and long, Tharp made a 31-yard conversion catch putting the Cougars at midfield.

After the second penalty of the drive, Price made a catch and the ball was knocked loose with Osman making the fumble recovery for the Tigers at the East Hardy 39-yard line.

Shadyside assembled its first scoring drive of the game in six plays spanning three minutes and change.

Visnic garnered a first down on a ten yard run placing the Tigers at the 27-yard line, then Reiman dodged a few defenders cutting across the field for another first down in the red zone at the 10.

East Hardy’s Erik Flynn, Dayton Miller and Tharp made stops as the Tigers inched closer to the end zone.

Shadyside found an opening on third down as Reiman punched the ball in for a touchdown at the 3:55 mark, but the two-point conversion attempt was denied by a pride of Cougars led by Flynn and Mongold as East Hardy preserved a 7-6 lead.

East Hardy’s Gabe Henderson made a huge kickoff return deep into Tigers territory only to have the ball stripped out by Reiman for a fumble recovery by Andrew Brown.

The momentum was shifting in favor of Shadyside as Visnic rushed for 14 yards to the East Hardy 39-yard line, but on the ensuing play the ball carried by Francis was ripped free by Dove.

However, the fumble was smothered up by Jalob Honeywell for the Tigers and remarkably the distance gained was enough for a first down at the 26-yard line.

Flynn stopped Visnic momentarily wrapping him up before help arrived from Price and Dale Hockman on just a two-yard pickup.

A hard hit by Tharp on a receiver caused an incompletion and the Tigers faced third down.

East Hardy’s Alex Miller slammed into Francis in the backfield causing a fumble which was recovered again by the Tigers as opportunities for East Hardy to collect turnovers were slipping away.

Reiman covered the fourth down on a 17-yard catch into the red zone at the seven yard line.

Flynn and Mongold garnered a stop after just one yard by Visnic, then Francis threw an incomplete pass.

The Tigers were trying to score before the close of the third quarter, but was denied on third down as Reiman didn’t advance with Flynn and Tharp wrestling him down.

Shadyside elected for a field goal to begin the fourth quarter and the 23-yarder off the leg of Reiman was good which gave the Tigers a 9-7 lead at 11:56.

The kickoff was bobbled, but the Cougars managed to keep possession at their own 25-yard line.

Dove danced around and avoided a tackle stepping out of bounds on a three yard run, then passed to Lang for six more yards.

Alex Miller converted a third down and short on a six yard run for East Hardy.

After four yard run by Dove, there was a high snap causing a huge loss backing the Cougars to the 23-yard line.

Dove scrambled away from danger and connected with Price stretching near the sidelines for the catch and a first down conversion on the 30-yard strike.

Unfortunately, East Hardy only managed another two yards before having to punt the ball away as the Tigers pressure intensified.

Shadyside’s Reiman juked one defender on second down and was off to the races as he dashed 83 yards for a touchdown without being tracked down at the 6:52 mark and the extra point attempt went wide for a 15-7 Tigers advantage.

The Cougars breathed life back on the field with a huge special teams return as Dove whirled by Shadyside to the 31-yard line.

The first pass attempt went awry, then East Hardy’s Alex Miller rushed for three yards and was taken down by Osman.

Dove found Ritchie for a three yard pass play and the Tigers’ Reiman stepped up for the tackle forcing fourth down and four at the 25-yard line.

The Cougars were denied a first down marker gaining just two yards as Shadyside took over on downs with five minutes remaining.

East Hardy’s Erik Flynn forced a fumble, but it was recovered by Reiman on the play for the Tigers.

Two plays later, Reiman converted a third down to keep the Tigers possession going.

Visnic spun out of initial trouble before being chased down by Hockman and Tharp, but a first down was obtained on the nine yard run with 3:36 left.

The Tigers stayed with the ground game to eat more clock and East Hardy utilized timeouts, however, Shadyside managed to garner another first down as Reiman cut to the sidelines for a 15-yard run on third down reaching the East Hardy 32-yard line.

After an additional eight yard run by Reiman and stop by Flynn and Tharp, the Tigers found the end zone again on the ensuing play.

Reiman blew out the candles for the homecoming celebration cake on a 24-yard touchdown run with under one minute to go (0:58) and the extra point failed with Shadyside taking a 21-7 lead over the Cougars.

East Hardy’s last possession of the contest resulted in a punt after a sack and two incomplete passes, then the Tigers knelt down to finish the game and picked up the 100th career victory for Coach Holenka with the final score of 21-7.

The Cougars (2-1) will travel to Pocahontas County this Friday looking to rebound from the Shadyside trip.[/private]