RAVENSWOOD - Nathan Cunningham's 42-yard field goal late in the fourth quarter here Friday night at Flinn Field was supposed to be the deciding points for host Ravenswood's victory during homecoming, but Braxton County senior Jacob Yanero and company had other plans.
On the final play of the contest, Yanero hooked up with Derek Barnette on a 9-yard touchdown strike to lift the Class AA No. 19 Eagles to an improbable 26-23 victory against Ravenswood, which lost its fourth straight contest after starting the campaign 2-0.
An interception by RHS signal-caller Heath Burgess on a poorly thrown ball by Yanero gave Ravenswood the ball at the Eagle 45 with 8:22 left in the game. Cunningham's field goal at the 5:49 mark broke a 20-all tie and the visitors took possession needing to go 85 yards to paydirt.
Thanks to the running of Yanero, who galloped for game-highs of 22 rushes and 232 yards, Braxton County was able to push across midfield. A Yanero 22-yard completion to Thomas Pritt followed by a Yanero 11-yard scamper gave the Eagles a first down at the Red Devil 12. Previous to that, the Red Devils had called a pair of timeouts to try and straighten out their defense, but it didn't work.
Although the Red Devil defense got a tackle for loss by Connor Jelich and a sack by Brad Titus to later force a fourth-and-14 at the RHS 16, a pair of off-setting penalties on that fourth down allowed the drive to continue. On the ensuing play, Ravenswood was whistled for pass interference and Braxton County got the ball first-and-goal at the 9 with 12.3 seconds left. That's when Yanero scrambled to his right and eventually found Barnette, who caught the pass right at the goal line.
After trailing 20-13 at the half, Ravenswood got a 5-yard TD run from Devon Crews (17-67) and Mason Carte's extra point tied the game at 20 apiece with 1:36 remaining in the third.
The Red Devils failed to capitalize after getting a turnover on the ensuing kickoff when Titus forced a fumble from Eagle return man Zach Perkins, which was recovered by Damien Caldwell. The Red Devils' ensuing drive was snuffed out when they had a second-and-goal from the 9 when Eagle Wyatt Lucas recovered a fumble.
Braxton County, which improved to 4-3 and returns to action at Eagle Field on Friday, Oct. 19 versus Webster County, deferred after winning the toss and scored with 9:09 left in the opening quarter when Yanero took a toss sweep left as a running back and raced 68 yards for a score.
Down 6-0, the hosts finally got their offense going with a one-handed 30-yard catch by tight end Dylan Radabaugh from Burgess, who finished 11 of 17 for 138 yards. Five plays later, Patrick Watson caught a 24-yard post route from Burgess and Carte's extra point made it 7-6 Red Devils at 10:04 of the second.
Rhys Jelich's 5-yard TD run with 3:24 left before intermission gave the hosts a 13-6 cushion, but Yanero raced 80 yards for a touchdown on the next Braxton County play and when Chase Oney recovered a fumble in the end zone for the two-point conversion the Eagles led 14-13 just 24 seconds later.
Ravenswood, which plays host to Point Pleasant next Friday night, then turned the ball over on downs at the Eagle 38, but the visitors needed just three plays to take the 20-13 lead at the break. Yanero hit Pritt on a 35-yard bomb over the middle and with seven seconds left in the half he hit A.J. Adkins on a 22-yard touchdown strike.
Rhys Jelich, who had 17 rushes, joined Crews in gaining 67 yards. The victory for Braxton County was its second straight in the series after the Eagles won 51-13 last fall.