Making it look easy

West Fairmont tailback Jerry Kelly (left) is tripped up by Preston’s defense during the Polar Bears’ 49-14 rout Saturday night at East-West Stadium. Kelly scored three touchdowns in his first game back since Week 1.

On a night when Jerry Kelly made his return to West Fairmont’s backfield, it was the passing of Kyle Allard and the Polar Bear defense that stole the spotlight Saturday night.

Allard threw four touchdown passes in just over two quarters of action as West Fairmont cruised to an easy 49-14 North Central Athletic Conference victory over Preston at East-West Stadium.

While the offense scored at will, it was West’s defense that continued to give the ball back to Allard and Co. with great field position.

The Polar Bear first-team defensive unit forced four turnovers in the first half to help West race out to a 42-0 halftime lead. In all, Preston turned the ball over five times — four fumbles and one interception.

“Our defense was flying around, hitting guys and forcing turnovers out there,” head coach J.L. Abbott said. “It was a good night, and this is a good way to go into our bye week.”

Preston’s defense was no match for the West’s vast array of offensive weapons.

Allard completed 11-of-15 passes for 215 yards and four touchdowns to four different players.

On West’s first possession, Allard followed up a couple of Kelly rushes with a 39-yard scoring strike to Adam Domico for a 7-0 lead.

After the Knights’ punted away after their first series — the first of five punts in the opening 24 minutes — Allard went back to work.

The senior quarterback hit Drew Retton once and Ben Kettering three times, setting up Kelly’s first touchdown of the season. Kelly darted through the middle of Preston’s defense for an 8-yard plunge and a 14-0 Polar Bear lead after one quarter.

“It felt good to be back out there with my teammates,” said Kelly, who saw his first action since Week 1 because of a shoulder sprain. “It was tough not being out there with them the last couple of games, but I worked hard to be back out there tonight.”

Following Preston’s first turnover, a fumble recovered by Joe Satterfield, Kelly scored his second rushing touchdown from 2 yards out. Kelly finished with 42 yards on only 9 carries.

Kelly got into the passing game following Preston’s second lost fumble, which was recovered by Josh Redelman.

Allard hit Kelly on two consecutive passes covering 36 yards, the second one a 24-yard screen play that Kelly took into the end zone thanks to key blocks by Kettering and Johnny Leon. Kelly totaled 78 offensive yards and scored three touchdowns in his return.

“Jerry looked good, but he rehabbed really hard to get back into shape,” Abbott said. “He ran the ball hard, had good speed and lowered his shoulder into some defenders. We just didn’t do a good job of run blocking tonight.”

Another two-play drive for the Polar Bears covered just 35 yards as Allard connected with Kettering on a 27-yard TD over the middle for a 35-0 lead.

Then West made it 42-0 just before halftime when Preston punted the ball into the back of one its own players. The ball bounced into the end zone, where Chase Keener secured it for his first-career touchdown.

On Preston’s next offensive series, Keener recovered a fumble.

“Chase will definitely get a few helmet stickers for his performance,” Abbott said. “He’s worked really hard for us.”

West’s first-string offense played the first series in the third quarter and needed just one play to score for the sixth time in eight possessions.

Allard took the snap, looked left and fired the ball down field to the right. That’s where Retton hauled in the pass over a Preston defensive back. Retton then stumbled his way into the end zone for a 45-yard touchdown play — his first score of the season and second of his career.

“It’s about time Drew got a touchdown,” Allard said. “He’s been making all kinds of catches, but never could score.”

Kettering and Retton each had four catches for 73 and 67 yards, respectively, as West managed just 278 yards of total offense, compared to Preston’s 158.

The Knights were held to just 21 yards in the first half as their quarterbacks were sacked six times. Leon led the way with 2 1/2 sacks, while Retton and Trent Mauck and Anthony Ganaway each had one. Levi Pawich helped Leon with one sack.

“We practice hard every day,” Kelly said. “When you practice hard, you play harder in games and it pays off.”

The Polar Bears, now 2-2 overall and 2-1 in the NCAC, is off until traveling to University High on Sept. 29.

E-mail Andrew Manzo at dmanzo@timeswv.com.

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