A year ago West Fairmont quarterback Kyle Allard — then a junior — tried to exploit University High’s defense by picking apart the secondary with the passing game.

The Hawks’ defense withstood the challenge and intercepted Allard four times en route to a 26-6 victory at East-West Stadium.

Allard attempted to do the same thing Friday night at Pony Lewis Field — and succeeded. Now a senior, Allard looks more mature, more comfortable and wiser with his decisions under center.

Allard proved himself as one of the most dangerous quarterbacks in the state as he totaled 230 yards of total offense and accounted for four touchdowns to lead West past University, 42-13.

The win was the Polar Bears’ first over the Hawks since 1997, which snapped an eight-game losing streak. It was also the first time West won at Pony Lewis Field since 1994.

“Coach (J.L.) Abbott always does an awesome job of getting us jacked up for games,” said Ben Kettering, who caught 6 passes for 101 yards and two touchdowns. “It’s been a lot of years since we last beat these guys. So it wasn’t hard to get motivated for this game. They’re a good football team.”

Allard finished the game completing 15-of-21 passes for 180 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. He also rushed for 50 yards on 11 carries.

West scored on its first two drives of the game to take a quick 14-0 lead.

Facing a fourth-and-six at University’s 27-yard line, Allard took the snap and scrambled to his left with the ball in his left hand. He then created just enough space from two UHS defenders to switch the ball into his right hand and fire a strike to a wide-open Kettering, who juked his way into the end zone for the first score.

“No matter what my rout is,” Kettering said, “if I see Kyle running around I always try to peel back for a block or come back and get a catch for him. Since I’m tall, he tends to see me.”

On the Polar Bears’ next possession, Allard again had to scramble away from the Hawks’ defense before lofting a pass to the back of the end zone where Joey Buonaiuto hauled it in for a 22-yard touchdown pass with 6:48 remaining.

After Lex Janes recovered the first of two fumbles for West, Allard scrambled for a 7-yard gain followed by Drew Retton’s 10-yard sweep for a touchdown and a 21-0 advantage.

And the rout was on, right? Well, not exactly.

Adrian Smith did his best to single-handedly bring University back into the game and keep the Hawks close until the end.

On the first play after Retton’s TD, Smith broke free and nearly outran West’s defense for 73 yards, which set up Dominique Dixon’s 1-yard plunge for a score.

But the Polar Bears responded a couple of drives later when Allard again hooked up with Kettering on a 17-yard fade route for a touchdown. Kettering, standing at 6-5, caught the ball over top of Sonny Hilson, who is 5-7.

“We saw the big mismatch tonight with some of their smaller corners,” Allard said. “So I pretty much knew I could throw it up to Ben at any time and he would come down with the ball.”

On the ensuing kickoff, Smith raced 91 yards for a touchdown, bringing the Hawks within 28-13 at the half.

“We knew coming in that he was going to be tough to catch,” Abbott said. “When he hits the corners, he’s likely to take it all the way every time.”

However, Smith couldn’t do all the work by himself.

Out of the 242 yards of total offense for University, Smith accounted for 160 yards, including 16 carries for 137 yards and a 23-yard catch on a trick play from receiver Chad Shade.

But in the end, West’s defense held its ground and denied University each time it threatened to pull even closer after halftime.

Both teams exchanged fumbles to start the third quarter, and then Allard made his only passing mistake by throwing an interception to Hilson after being pressured by Ryan Watts.

The Hawks proceeded to take 13 plays in driving to West’s 13-yard line. But on the 14th play, Golden threw a jump ball in the corner of the end zone for Ryan Nehlen. But Adam Domico was there to pick off the pass.

“Adam did a great job of defending Nehlen,” Kettering said. “That interception in the end zone was huge for us. It gave us back the momentum.”

Still yet, UHS got the ball back again with a chance to make something happen. Golden, though, was picked off twice for scores in the final five minutes, providing the lopsided outcome.

Allard intercepted the first one and took it 82 yards to paydirt, while Tony Romano followed on the next possession with a 55-yard interception return for a touchdown.

“Our defense played great,” Abbott said. “Our guys read the papers, and they heard a lot about the Nehlen kid because he’s a good receiver. But guys like Adam Domico, Joey Buonaiuto, Ben Kettering and Tony Romano really stepped it up back there.”

Jerry Kelly added two sacks and rushed for 55 yards on 17 carries for the Polar Bears, who improved to 3-2 overall and 3-1 in the North Central Athletic Conference heading into next Friday’s road game at Buckhannon-Upshur.

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

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