Riders finish with loss to Potters

WEIRTON – The Weir High football team fell behind early Friday night, but fought back to within 16 points and wound up turning the ball over inside the East Liverpool five-yard line three times in the final 14 minutes of the game only to lose the season finale 49-33 at Jimmy Carey Stadium.

The Red Riders staked the Potters a 14-0 lead in the first quarter and were behind 35-25 in a wild scoring first half.

With the loss, the Riders finished the season at 3-7. The Potters evened their season record at 5-5..

“We battled all the way and never gave up,” said Red Rider coach, Tony Filberto, who is in the second year of his second stint at the head of the program. “We made some mistakes that probably cost us, but we made some darn good plays, too.”

The Red Riders came out passing the ball more than at any time in the season.

“We saw some things that we thought we could exploit,” Filberto said. “We had some good runs, too. We just couldn’t get the ball into the end zone there late in the game.”

There was plenty of offense in the game as East Liverpool rolled up a total of 528 yards and Weir High checked in with 389.

The Potters were led by senior Zach English, who ran for 271 yards and three touchdowns. His 271 yards is the third all time best in a game by an East Liverpool running back, according to Potter coach, Rick Prescott.

“That puts him over 1,100 yards for the season,” he said.

English had touchdown runs of 7, 53 and 60 yards and carried the ball a total of 33 times in the game.

Quarterback Kade Reynolds ran for 127 yards and a touchdown then completed 5 of 9 passes for 88 yards and another score.

Meanwhile, Weir High quarterback, William Larch had a busy night totaling 163 yards on the ground with 16 totes and completing 14 of 30 passes for 183 yards and a touchdown. He was intercepted twice.

Behind 42-25 late in the third quarter, Weir High put an East Liverpool punt in play at their own 33. And drove to the Potters 7 with a first down. Matt Hartman, who had bulled his way 13 yards on the previous play, got the call again and blasted to the one. As he reached the ball toward the goal line while being tackled, his arm hit the ground and he lost control of the pigskin and it went into the end zone where it was recovered by the potters and called a touchback by the officials.

That gave the Potters the ball at their own 20 and on the first play junior quarterback Kade Reynolds raced 80 yards for a touchdown. Justin Barr made his seventh extra point of the game giving the Potters a 49-25 lead.

The Red Riders drove from their own 35 to the East Liverpool 3-yard line with the ensuing possession from where Larch worked his way to the outside and darted into the end zone. A Jo Jo Rice run for the two-pointer made the score 49-33.

However, the Red Riders weren’t done as they made a couple more valiant efforts to win the game.

Sophomore C. J. Reed pounced on a Dillon Reynolds fumble on East Liverpool’s first play with the ensuing possession to put the Red Riders in business again at their own 30-yard line. It was Reed’s second fumble recovery of the game and he later intercepted a pass. Nine plays later, the Riders were knocking on the Potters door with a first down at the East Liverpool 5-yard line.

Hartman got the call again and was swarmed by the Potter defense and fumbled the ball again.

Then, on the next possession by the Potters, Reed stepped in front of a Raynolds pass giving the Riders possession at the East Liverpool 35-yard line.

They drove to the Potters five with time running out and were faced with a fourth and one, but Larch was stopped on his attempt to get the first down.

It was an emotional Prescott after the game.

“I’ve been with these seniors since their freshman year,” he said. “You hate to see it end. I couldn’t be more proud of them. We got out to the early lead and then got complacent, but we survived.

“That sends our seniors out on top and I’m proud of our kids over the adversity we’ve gone through over the past four years and this season alone.”

The Red Riders had several good kickoff returns in the game and Kam Davis lugged one back 90 yards for a first quarter touchdown.

“We worked hard for a kickoff return touchdown all season and we finally got it tonight,” Filberto said.

Weir High’s first score came when Larch rolled to his left, shook loose from a tackler, juggled the football and then tight roped down the sideline before cutting back to his right for a 53-yard touchdown run.

Davis’ kickoff return made the score 21-12 and after Rice’s fumble recovery gave the Riders the ball at their own 31, they struck again. Larch ran for 9 yards, Davis added 17 and Larch dashed 42 more yards before he was knocked out of bounds at the Potters one. Larch crashed into the end zone from there and when Alyssa Shingle booted the extra point, the Red Riders were within two points at 21-19.

English ran 52 yards for a second quarter touchdown and added a 60-yarder to give the Potters a 35-19 advantage. A Weir High fumble after Larch hit Clarence Bennett with a 17-yard pass set up English’s first score.

However, the Red Riders bounced back with a touchdown 1:57 before halftime. Larch found Rice racing down the middle of the field in a 43-yard pass a run connection. A pass for the two-pointer was incomplete leaving East Liverpool with the 35-25 margin at the half.

East Liverpool drew first blood in the second half when D. J. Austin intercepted Larch at the Weir High 29 and zig-zagged his way through the Riders for a touchdown.