Rodenheaver leads Keyser ground troops past Jefferson
During history’s many wars, generals and leaders have used a strategy known as “scorched earth” policies. The military machine would burn crops and acreage for miles in all directions, leaving the ground barren and beaten.
The Civil War (War Between the States) in our history saw Union General William Tecumseh Sherman move his victorious army along a wide stretch of battered land between Atlanta and the coastal city of Savannah. Sherman devastated the land, leaving a wide swath of area where he said, “A crow couldn’t find anything to eat.”
Last Friday in Shenandoah Junction, Keyser used its version of a ground-based strategy that sent workhorse running back Colten Rodeheaver hammering relentlessly at the Jefferson defense.
Keyser may have left a few kernels on the grass. But they were very few. Rodenheaver ran 40 times against the crowded-in Jefferson defense that stationed all 11 of its defenders within six yards of the line of scrimmage.
The inexhaustible junior back literally amassed 258 rushing yards and scored three of Keyser’s four touchdowns as the Golden Tornado lived along the ground in a 28-20 win over the Cougars.
Rodeheaver had six runs of at least 10 yards and reeled off scoring jaunts of 28 and 33 yards as Keyser moved its record to 6-2 and left the Cougars with a similar 5-2 record and a date against bully-boy Martinsburg tonight at 7 p.m. in Shenandoah Junction.
So complete was Keyser’s grind-it-out plan that it completed one pass (for 20 yards) on the winning night.
Even with Rodeheaver’s dominant effort, the Cougars could have won the two-sided battle — or at least gone into overtime — right down to the game’s final play.
After managing a first down at the Keyser two with under a minute remaining, the Cougars had a last-gasp play from the four where a final-play pass fell incomplete in the tangled-bodies end zone.
Jefferson even had leads of 14-7, 14-13 at halftime and 20-13 before the ever-advancing Golden Tornado scored the game’s last 15 points to all but ensure another Mineral County trip to the Class AA playoffs.
Rodeheaver’s 28-yard run had given Keyser an early 7-0 lead, but Jefferson quickly countered with the first two of Christian Johnson’s three touchdown catches from Andrew King. Johnson’s first-half TD grabs came on 14-yard and 26-yard throws from King.
Rodeheaver’s 33-yard bolt left the Golden Tornado trailing, 14-13, when they failed to complete a pass beyond the end zone on the final play of the opening half.
Johnson scored again with a 31-yard reception of a King pass as the Cougars moved ahead, 20-13, in the third period.
But it was Keyser with the game’s lasting impressions.
Converting first downs on no less than three fourth-down plays, Keyser traveled completely overland some 59 yards in 16 ground-hugging plays that finally ended with Rodeheaver’s one-yard, touchdown run on fourth down. Rodeheaver then ran in the two-point conversion try for a 21-20 Keyser lead.
It was a lost Rodeheaver fumble that lifted Jefferson’s fourth-quarter chances. But after three, pass-completion first downs had the Cougars at the Golden Tornado 23, double coverage on Johnson finally produced an end zone interception that was returned to the Keyser 40.
Two plays later Garrett Crites stormed 57 yards to lift the Keyser lead to 28-20.
Back came the resilient Cougars.
Five King pass completions had moved the Cougars to the Keyser two with just seconds left to play.
A completed pass near the sideline lost two yards.
On the game’s final snap, King hurriedly threw into the end zone where a desperation lunge couldn’t get the Cougars another score.
So, though Johnson had seven catches for 125 yards and brought his seven-game total of TD receptions to 20, Rodeheaver’s own “scorched earth” show had been just enough to make Keyser the night’s winner.