By HARRISON HAMLET
(STUART, Va.) – Bassett’s football team had every intention of crashing the Homecoming Party in Stuart on Friday night, and a dominant second quarter allowed them to do just that in a 25-16 road win over Patrick County.
After a scoreless first quarter that saw both teams finding their footing, Kevon Smith ran the ball, Jaricous Hairston threw it, and Demetrius Gill caught it at a high level over 12 minutes, leaving the Cougars stunned and the Bengals full of swagger heading into halftime.
“We saw some things they were doing defensively and were able to take advantage of it,” Bassett head coach Brandon Johnson said. “I feel like if we don’t make mistakes, self-inflicted wounds, we are able to produce offensively. Those three drives in the second quarter were huge for us.”
Smith finished the night with 119 yards, a touchdown and a two-point conversion on the ground, while Hairston added 37 yards rushing and a touchdown rushing to his 121 yards passing and one passing touchdown to Gill.
The trio of Smith, Hairston and Gill were supported by Simeon Walker-Muse and Elijah Stokes on the ground to create an offensive attack that was just too much for the Cougars over the course of the second quarter, which saw Bassett outscore Patrick County 22-7.
The play of Hairston, a freshman, was particularly impressive in Stuart. Hairston scored on a 10-yard run and found Gill on a 69-yard pass for a score in the second quarter before engineering a crucial drive in the fourth quarter to seal the win.
“We have a young quarterback, a freshman, and we’re expecting him to make plays that freshmen usually don’t have to make at this point in their career. He’s doing it,” Johnson said. “We have confidence in our whole offense right now. What we’re doing, guys are starting to really get it and buy in. They’re starting to get confidence in themselves and that’s a huge thing for us. We’re confident in our O-line and our backs right now. Younger players are stepping in when they’re called on and everyone is buying into their role.”
The game wasn’t all gravy for the Bengals, as the Cougars were able to mount a substantial challenge after the halftime break.
Bassett surrendered a long run for a touchdown and a field goal, cutting their lead to one score at 22-16 with eight minutes remaining.
“When we gave up that big long drive we could’ve given up a touchdown and we didn’t,” Johnson said. “We were able to hold them to a field goal and that was huge for us late in the game.”
Keeping it on the ground over the next four minutes, Hairston marched the Bengals into field goal position, where Freddi Lopez all but sealed the win with a perfect kick with just four minutes remaining in the game.
“We haven’t attempted a field goal in my three years until that drive. We have a sophomore kicker, Freddi, who has a boot,” Johnson said. “He does it every day in practice, that’s what he works out for. If we got those three points, we felt like it was the game. It was a no-brainer and he put it right through the uprights. It was a gritty win for us.”
The physicality shown in the final drive for Bassett left an impression on Patrick County head coach David Morrison.
“They’ve got some big, tough kids and they are a physical bunch. That was a great game,” Morrison said. “I can’t take anything away from Bassett, that is a great team and they played a well-fought game.”
Now the Bengals (3-2), who sit above .500 for the first time under Johnson, must prepare for another run-heavy team in Halifax County (3-1) on Friday night.
“That is a hard-nosed, wing-T football team that is going to run the ball, run the ball, run the ball,” Johnson said of Halifax County. “We have to be ready to come play. They have athletes along the lines and touching the ball. It’s a really solid 4A football team and we’re excited to get the chance to play them.”
Bassett High School 25, Patrick County High School 16
BHS – 0 22 0 3 – 25
PCHS – 0 7 6 3 – 16
9:49 – BHS – Kevon Smith 20 rush (Kevon Smith 2 pt. rush)
6:49 – PCHS – Carson Merriman 1 rush (Martin Morse PAT good)
4:38 – BHS – Jaricous Hairston 10 rush (Freddi Lopez PAT good)
1:24 – BHS – Demetrius Gill 69 pass from Jaricous Hairston (Freddi Lopez PAT good)
7:22 – PCHS – Will Sprowl 52 rush (2 pt. fail)
8:23 – PCHS – Martin Morse 33 field goal good
4:13 – BHS – Freddi Lopez 28 field goal good
BASSETT HIGH SCHOOL
Kevon Smith 19 for 119, TD, 2pt.; Simeon Walker-Muse 7 for 70; Jaricous Hairston 7 for 37, TD; Elijah Stokes 4 for 20; Armahn Walker-Muse 1 for 4. TOTAL: 38 for 250, 2 TD, 2pt.
Jaricous Hairston 5/8 for 121, TD, INT.
Demetrius Gill 5 for 121, TD.
PATRICK COUNTY HIGH SCHOOL
Dae’Shawn Penn 20 for 108; Will Sprowl 6 for 57, TD; Jonny Crowell 6 for 31; Carson Merriman 10 for 18, TD; John Williams 1 for 3. TOTAL: 43 for 217, 2TD.
Will Sprowl 1/8 for 29.
Dae’Shawn Penn 1 for 29