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Braxton tops Sissonville, clinches playoff spot

By D.J. Williams

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- From the opening kickoff of Saturday's Braxton County-Sissonville Class AA showdown, it was evident neither team wanted to be sitting at home today wondering "What if?"

One team would knock on the other team's door in the first half, and the other would reply by putting up a "Not Welcome" sign, resulting in a scoreless first half.

But when the final minute ticked off the clock, it was Braxton that had made itself quite welcome in Sissonville's end zone.

Trailing 14-13 in the fourth quarter, the Eagles reeled off 24 straight points to defeat Sissonville 37-14 Saturday night at Laidley Field and secure a postseason spot in next weekend's Class AA playoffs.

"We could tell that we were wearing on them up front," said Braxton County coach Matt Rollyson. "We just continued to pound the ball and you could tell it was taking a toll on them. [Sissonville] went from a four-man front to a five-man front, but we were still able to continue to run the ball inside."

Most of that running damage was done by Jacob Yanero, who rushed for 236 yards on 30 carries and three touchdowns. Yanero also scored on a 2-point conversion and threw for two more scores.

"We knew coming into this game that it was going to be a physical game," Yanero said. "Our line has been under some scrutiny this year, but they did excellent tonight.

"I have always wanted to be [in the playoffs]. I always wanted to be the guy scoring the touchdowns to get there. This is just an indescribable feeling."

If his 30-carry performance was an indicator of what to expect in the playoffs, Rollyson will try to make sure Yanero keeps scoring touchdowns.

"Jake is a big part of what we do," Rollyson said. "I don't mean this as a discredit to anyone in the state, but he is one of the best running backs in the state. I'm gonna give credit where credit is due. He is just a great player. Humble kid. If he stays healthy, he will make a college program happy."

Saturday's win not only ensures a postseason spot for Braxton County (6-4) but also knocks Sissonville (5-5) out of the playoffs. The Indians held the No. 16 and final playoff spot coming into Saturday's game.

The scoreboard begin to get some action in the second half as Yanero scored on a 7-yard run to give the Eagles the early lead. But two plays later, Jarett Wilkinson tied the score on a 6-yard run, set up by a Trent Stowers 43-yard scamper. Yanero countered with a 3-yard touchdown to give the Eagles a 13-7 lead going into the fourth quarter.

The Indians stole the momentum when Austin Crawford connected with Nathan Miller for an 8-yard touchdown on third-and-goal, giving the Indians their first lead of the game at 14-13. But it was quickly gained back as Yanero took the next play from scrimmage 70 yards to the Indians 1-yard line.

Two plays later, Yanero dived into the end zone for a 1-yard score. Chase Oney added a 7-yard run and Thomas Pritt returned an interception 29 yards for a TD to secure the victory.

Stowers led the Indians with 103 rushing yards and 55 receiving yards, while Wilkinson rushed for 86 yards and a TD.

"Give them credit,'' said Sissonville coach Eddie Smolder. "They came out in the second half and took it up the middle on us - bottom line. We didn't make as many plays as they did. We had some missed tackles that hurt us. When you don't make plays on defense, every gap's important, and they took advantage of it."


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