Vandals make easy work of Miners in football
Gillespie quarterback Frankie Barrett rolls out looking for a pass opportunity. Barrett threw for nine completions and finished with 62 yards in his season debut. Coal Country Times Photo by Denise Simpson.
John Berry celebrates with his teammates after opening Gillespie’s football season with a 70-yard kickoff return touchdown against Vandalia. Berry also scored a 53-yard rushing touchdown in the fourth quarter last Friday. Coal Country Times Photo by Denise Simpson.
By JACKSON WILSON
Coal Country Times Reporter
John Berry electrified the Gillespie Football faithful with a 70-yard kickoff return, but the Vandalia Vandals got the last laugh and powered their way to a 41-12 victory during a rainy season opener at Don “Duke” Dobrino Field last Friday.
The visiting Vandals were led by Thomas Ritchey, who ran for 162 yards on 18 rushes while finding the end zone four times.Matthew Wells scored two touchdowns while completing eight of 20 passes for 126 yards.
Vandalia also set the tone by making some momentum-crushing plays on defense. A stand-out example was a 30-yard blocked punt return from Mason Ess.
Gillespie quarterback Frankie Barrett was successful on nine of 21 passing attempts while rushing for 62 yards. Berry finished with 61 rushing yards on 13 carries.
The Miners immediately struck first on Berry’s kickoff return touchdown to open the game, but the Vandals’ defense limited the damage and shut down a two-point conversion attempt.
Wells led the Vandalia offense down the field and punched in the equalizing score on a 62-yard quarterback keeper. Cameron Withers buried the extra point to give the Vandals a 7-6 lead.
With 36 seconds remaining in the first, Gillespie punted the ball to Ritchey and the Vandalia senior took it the house for six more on a 70-yard return of his own. Another Withers extra point through the uprights made it 14-6.
Ritchey broke free for another rushing touchdown in the second quarter and Vandalia took a 21-6 lead into the halftime locker room.
The Miners kept the Vandals off the scoreboard in the third, but the offense was unable to cut into the deficit.
Vandalia outscored Gillespie 20-6 in the fourth quarter. Berry ended the Miners’ scoring drought with a 53-yard touchdown rush at the 7:21 mark.
The Miners (0-1) will play their first road game Friday at Litchfield (0-1). Game time is 7 p.m.