Sep. 16—OLIVE HILL — It only took 38 seconds for the Comets to find the endzone on Friday night, and they made frequent return visits.
In the end, West Carter reached the half-century mark as they smothered Powell County 50-20 on homecoming night.
"I think our kids had experienced so much in the last three games, and have a chance to win all three late, they've learned how to win now," West Carter coach Daniel Barker said. "Our kids are growing up, they're still a little young, but the effort they have, I knew they'd find a way tonight and get us ready for the second half of the season."
The Comets were led by running back Dwaylon Dean, who had four touchdowns off of 18 rushes, with 237 yards as one of only two players to carry the ball for West Carter.
Powell County, while winless on the year, had been within striking distance in their previous three losses, with an average deficit of around six points in their first three games.
"I think at the beginning of the game we were doing pretty good," Powell County coach Mike Jones said. "But we started getting some injuries and had to dig real deep into the roster. So, we're pretty beat up."
That wasn't the case Friday night.
West Carter came out of the gate ready to take control of the game. On the opening kickoff, the Comets caught the Pirates off guard with an onside kick, which the Comets recovered on their opponents 49-yard line.
Dean would get all 49 yards needed to find paydirt in just two rushes to give the Comets the early 7-0 lead following Wyatt Martin's PAT.
"He's one of those guys that just keeps getting stronger," Barker said. "We've been blessed with great running backs the last decade plus. He's on pace to be another one of those. For a guy that weighs 150-160 pounds, he's a physical ball carrier. He sets the tone for us, he's never tired, always has a good attitude... whenever you have a guy like that, it helps everybody on the team."
Powell County weathered the early blow and put together a solid opening drive of their own, running nine plays for 68 yards, capped off by a one-yard touchdown run by Pirates quarterback Aiden Larrison.
Unfortunately for Powell County, the 2-point conversion play was all over the place, with a few fumbles on the attempt which eventually failed.
On West Carter's next play, they immediately erased the Pirates' points, with a 48-yard touchdown run from Dean.
Both teams' defenses made scoring an issue well into the second quarter.
One defensive highlight for Powell County was recovering a fumble on a bad snap just after West Carter had made it the Pirates' three yard line.
The Comets would eventually find the endzone again, thanks to an eight play, 44-yard drive that was finished off by Dean for his third touchdown of the night.
Powell County moved the ball well on the next drive, seeing solid results from Julian Lopez, who was called on frequently for the Pirates.
"He's a tough kid," Jones said of Lopez. "And he's really our second string running back after we lost our first string at Floyd Central with an ankle injury."
Unfortunately for them, the drive came to a screeching halt when West Carter forced a fumble, which was recovered by Ethan Bledsoe for a 49-yard return.
Despite another gut punch for Powell County, the Pirates immediately responded with a 66-yard rushing touchdown from Larrison. The 2-point conversion failed again, however, making it 28-12 at the half.
Following the homecoming festivities, West Carter gave the fans a reason to keep cheering.
Less than a minute into the second half, the Comets got into the endzone again in just three plays, all of them from Dean, for a total of 54 yards on the drive.
"I want to tell you, 32 is the best football player we've seen all year," Jones said of Dean. "And he's probably the best we will see, I think. He plays well on both sides of the ball."
With the game firmly in hand, West Carter decided to try airing the ball out, something that they hadn't done much throughout the contest.
"We tried to be balanced throughout," Barker said. "But early on, when we handed it to Dwaylon he was just taking it. If your running back is taking it 50 yards for a touchdown, you're not going to do too many passes. But we were just trying to build some balance. We had a lead, there wasn't any consequences, so we decide to throw and get better at it. We'll need that to compete in our district. We need everything from everyone."
That play calling resulted in a 55-yard touchdown pass from Hayden Hall to Isaiah Bond to put things at 41-12.
The Pirates would have more bad breaks in the fourth quarter, losing a bad snap through the back of the endzone, which tacked on two more points for the Comets.
West Carter would continue to pass the ball late in the game, with Hall finding Kadin Thompson for the Comets' final touchdown to give them an even 50 for the game.
Powell County gave some players further down the depth chart a chance to see the field in the final drive of the game.
Backup quarterback TJ Strange found success with his legs on several scrambles, including a 20-yard and 33-yard run. The freshman would eventually run his way into the endzone for a touchdown and connect with Braden Arnett on the 2-point try.
The running clock would run out before the ensuing kickoff, which would seal the victory for West Carter.
"I want us to continue to grow," Barker said. "We get better every week. We've won a game now, so we don't have to ask 'Do we know how to win?' I just hope they take the lessons from our non-district games and apply them next week. East Carter has a really good ball team and I think we do too. It should be a really good game. We're looking forward to it."
Powell County will travel back to our area next Friday still looking for their first win as they face Fairview.
"I think when games like this happen, we just go back to fundamentals and basics," Jones said. "Just don't get cute. Do some fundamentals and get back to it. We know they're a lot better than this, they just need to pull it together."
West Carter will look to ride this momentum into next Friday when they travel to East Carter for this year's Battle of the Barrel.
POWELL CO. 6 6 0 8 — 20
W. CARTER 14 14 13 9 — 50
WC¬¬ — Dwaylon Dean 35 run (Wyatt Martin kick), 11:22
PC — Aiden Larrison 1 run (run failed), 6:37
WC — Dean 48 run (Martin kick), 6:30
WC — Dean 1 run (Martin kick), 4:26
WC — Ethan Bledsoe 49 fumble return (Martin kick), 0:35
PC — Larrison 66 run (run failed), 0:20
WC — Dean 1 run, (Martin kick), 11:01
WC — Isaiah Bond 55 pass from Hayden Hall (kick blocked), 2:47
WC — Fumble through the endzone, safety, 8:56
WC — Kadin Thompson 9 pass from Hall (Martin kick), 6:14
PC — TJ Strange 11 run (Strange pass), 0:33
First Downs 12 10
Rushes-Yards 44-281 21-276
Comp-Att-Int 5-7-0 4-9-1
Passing Yards 44 151
Fumbles-Lost 1-1 3-1
Punts-Avg. 4-33 1-39
Penalties-Yards 11-65 7-70
Powell County rushing: Aiden Larrison 12-108, TJ Strange 7-75, Julian Lopez 17-66, , Tyler Miller 5-15, Jacob Green 2-10, Tristan West-Mckinney 1-7.
West Carter rushing: Dwaylon Dean 18-237, Kadin Thompson 3-39.
Powell County passing: Aiden Larrison 5 of 7 for 44 yards.
West Carter passing: Hayden Hall 4 of 9 for 151 and 1 interception.
Powell County receiving: Jacob Green 3-32, Braden Arnett 2-12.
West Carter receiving: Isaiah Bond 2-92, Kadin Thompson 2-59.