CORBIN, Ky. — The weather here was hot. Williamsburg quarterback Sydney Bowen was hotter.
The Yellow Jackets’ junior QB torched Oneida for 327 yards passing and five touchdowns, added a sixth touchdown on the ground, and Williamsburg dominated the opening game of the annual Cumberland Falls Pigskin Classic with a 50-21 win over the Indians.
The game was decided in a marathon first half that stretched nearly two hours. During that two hours, Oneida turned the football over five times and Williamsburg put more than 40 points on the board, building a 44-14 halftime lead.
Oneida got off to a disastrous start, fumbling the ball away on its first two plays from scrimmage and falling behind 24-0. But the Indians appeared to regroup, scoring on a 40-yard Noah Buttram touchdown run and getting a defensive stop before their offense began to march again.
But deep in Williamsburg territory, as Oneida threatened to punch the ball in to cut the deficit to 24-14 and throw the outcome into jeopardy once more, the Indians suffered their third turnover of the evening on a fumble. Williamsburg scored to make it 32-7, and the game was never seriously close after that.
Oneida’s last hope of putting together a comeback ended when Jayden Rainwater returned a kickoff 78 yards for a touchdown after Rylin Duncan had scored from a yard out to make it 32-14.
The turnovers weren’t the only achilles heel for Oneida in the season-opener. Penalties proved hurtful, as well. The Indians finished with 109 yards in penalties. There were several other off-setting personal foul penalties between the two teams in a game that was often chippy.
After the lengthy first half, the second half was over in a flash, thanks to a running clock that began after Williamsburg scored early in the third quarter to build a 36-point lead.
Despite the lopsided score, Oneida had its moments. The Indians finished with 261 yards of offense, including 175 yards on the ground. Between the power of Rylin Duncan and the speed of TJ Meredith, along with the running ability of Buttram and Matt Brown, Oneida looked like a team that could move the football. In fact, Oneida’s first two plays from scrimmage were lengthy runs, in excess of 10 yards, before they ended with fumbles. Later, the Indians’ two first half scoring drives saw Oneida string together successful running plays.
Buttram finished as Oneida’s leading rusher with 65 yards, including the 40-yard touchdown run late in the first quarter. Duncan finished with 46 yards.
The Indians averaged nearly 6.5 yards per carry as a team.
Oneida’s passing game didn’t go as well as hoped, though a bright spot was seen in the fourth quarter when Caden Rector and Ben Buttram hooked up for a 21-yard score.
Williamsburg opened the game with a 65-yard touchdown pass from Bowen to Rainwater on the third play from scrimmage to take a 6-0 lead.
After Oneida’s first fumble, the Yellow Jackets needed only three plays to find the end zone again, with Bowen scoring on a keeper to make it 12-0.
Another Oneida fumble gave Williamsburg an opportunity to tack onto the lead, which the Yellow Jackets did with a 17-yard pass from Bowen to Martin Shannon.
Later, after an Oneida punt, Williamsburg scored on a 21-yard touchdown strike from Bowen to Rainwater, making it 24-0 with still plenty of time remaining in the first quarter.
Oneida finally got on track with a 40-yard touchdown run by Buttram, cutting the deficit to 24-7.
After a stop on four consecutive incomplete passes by Williamsburg, the Indians found themselves on the move again. A 17-yard pass from Rector to TJ Meredith helped move the ball down the field, and the Indians were aided by one of several face mask penalties called against the Yellow Jackets.
But a bad snap on first-and-goal from inside the 10-yard-line resulted in Oneida’s third turnover of the night, and Williamsburg took advantage with a 90-yard touchdown drive that was capped by a 3-yard touchdown pass from Bowen to Rainwater.
Oneida put together another scoring drive on the ensuing possession, with a pair of runs by Meredith setting up a 1-yard touchdown plunge by Duncan.
But the Indians made the mistake of kicking the ball directly to Rainwater, and he made them pay with a 78-yard return for a touchdown to make the score 38-14.
With time waning in the first half, Oneida attempted to get to the end zone again, but Williamsburg intercepted a pass and returned it to inside the 20-yard-line, setting up a touchdown run to make it 44-14 at halftime.
The Yellow Jackets’ final points came on a 20-yard touchdown pass from Bowen to Martin Shannon early in the third quarter.
Oneida got on the board again in the fourth quarter, when Rector and Ben Buttram hooked up for a 21-yard touchdown, setting the final score at 50-21.