Pilots get back on track

NEW MARTINSVILLE – Bridgeport entered Friday’s game against River banged up and bruised, down four starters, five after quarterback Bailey McGrath suffered an ankley injury early.

The Pilots, meanwhile, were coming off a disappointing 31-7 loss to Bishop Rosecrans, the top-rated team in Region 23 at the time.

It was a perfect mixture for a get-right game for Coach Mike Flannery’s River club and the Pilots took full advantage.

River’s defensive line was relentless in keeping Bridgeport’s McGrath, Dallas Fields and Q.J. Williams bottled up in rolling to a 41-7 homecoming victory Friday at Alumni Field in New Martinsville.

Bridgeport finished with 164 yards rushing, but take away McGrath’s 63-yard option keeper and Fields’ 71-yard touchdown that resulted from bad tackling and heads-up running from the sophomore and the ‘Dogs accounted for 30 yards on 32 carries. That’s less than one yard per tote.

“They were able to get some good penetration,” a disappointed Rudy Vavrock offered as his team fell to 1-6. “Some real good penetration.”

Vavrock didn’t have much else to say. But who could blame him? He’d just finished watching River’s defensive front have its way with his offense.

Flannery applauded his team’s defensive showing, but was quick to point out it was able to take advantage of a tough situation for the visitors.

“I understand what they are going through,” Flannery said as his team upped its mark to 4-3. “They have a bunch of injuries. We just had more Jimmies and Joes than they did.

“But I didn’t like those two big runs they had.”

River had a few big runs of its own Friday.

Nick Asturi got the scoring barrage early, busting a 28-yard run off left end.

Teammate Jordan Sapp struck next, capping a lengthy drive with a 1-yard plunge before Fields’ second-effort got the Dogs on the board in the second quarter.

Asturi struck again to answer, trucking in from 21 yards out on the same play he reached paydirt on earlier.

Pilots’ quarterback Cody Caldwell then found Bryce Cross from 12 yards out late in the second half for a 27-7 Pilots’ lead.

It was more of the same in the second half for River.

Sapp ripped off a 48-yard touchdown jaunt before fullback Jonathan Stewart finally got the call, driving through from the 1 after five straight carries to cap the scoring.

To Flannery, that was the one he wanted most.

“We were going to keep feeding him the ball until he got in,” Flannery said. “Jonathan blocks all the time and it’s the other guys who get their name in the paper. We wanted to get him a touchdown. Plus, he’s a heck of a linebacker.”

Caldwell finished 12 of 26 for 140 yards while Sapp led the way on the ground with 86 yards on eight carries. Asturi had 83 on five.

The Pilots were balanced, logging 140 through the air and 204 on the ground.

Fields paced the Bulldogs with 80 yards on 18 totes. McGrath had 65 yards on three before leaving with the ankle injury early, never to return. The Bulldogs failed to complete a pass in five attempts.