BARNESVILLE - It wasn't a campaign changer, but Barnesville's 37-16 triumph over Conotton Valley Friday night was quite satisfying for Shamrocks' head coach Matt Johnson.
"The season wasn't as successful as we had hoped, but we get to send our seniors out winners in their final home game," Johnson said. "They are a great bunch of kids. The seniors have done everything we have asked and hung tough during some tough times. So it was a great way for them to leave the field for the final time."
Barnesville methodically pulled away from the Bowerston-based Rockets before a frigid and sparse crowd. The Red & Green improved to 2-7 and will travel to 9-0 Shadyside Friday night.
Conotton Valley dropped to 1-8. The Rockets will close out their campaign a week from today hosting the Cleveland Knights.
Barnesville relied on an effective rushing attack and some timely passing from Austin Hannahs in recording the game's first 37 points, before the Rockets tallied two late fourth-quarter touchdowns.
"It was an enjoyable night. We moved the ball well and got a lot of kids involved. The offensive line did a real nice job, as did our defense," Johnson said. "I was just unhappy, however, with all the penalties that were called against us."
The winners were flagged nine times for 100 yards. Conotton Valley was assessed 118 yards on 12 flags.
Barnesville drew first blood late in the first quarter on a four-play, 62-yard drive. Sophomore Dylan Burkhart capped the march from 10 yards out at the 3:10 mark. The PAT was blocked.
The Shamrocks parlayed an interception into their second touchdown as Hannahs teamed with Tyler Carleton on a 16-yard scoring pass which was tipped by a Rocket defender, only to fall into Carleton's waiting arms at the 5:10 mark of the second quarter. The conversion pass failed, leaving the hosts up 12-0.
Another Conotton miscue led to another Barnesville touchdown late in the first half. The hosts gained possession at their 22 after the snap sailed over the Rockets' punter's head.
Four snaps later, Hannahs drilled David Stewart with a 25-yard touchdown pass with 1:24 left in the half. The bonus run came up short.
Conotton opened the second half attempting an onside kick. It backfired, giving Shamrocks great field possession at midfield. The hosts embarked on a ground-oriented 11-play drive with Carleton climaxing the series from two yards out with 7:42 showing. The kick failed keeping Barnesville on top 24-0.
With a minute to play in the third period, Barnesville backup fullback Sonny Fluharty burst threw a huge hole and raced 33 yards to paydirt. The kick failed.
Barnesville added its final six-pointer on a six-yard run by Jamie Wells. David Brown added the PAT. He was also exceptional on the defensive side of the ball for the Red & Green.
Conotton's two scores came in the final five minutes on runs by Colton Cottis (10 yards) and Jordon Masters (66 yards)
Barnesville rushed for 270 stripes, topped by Burkhart's 93 stripes on 12 totes.
"The season hasn't been what we would have liked, but the players have represented the school and community very well," Johnson said. "We are not where we want to be, but we will get there.