WILLIAMSBURG - A small fire burned just south of War Memorial Field Friday night as Williamsburg built a lead through the first three quarters.
In the fourth quarter, that lead, and the fire, went up in smoke.
Claysburg-Kimmel's Zach Helsel ran in his second touchdown of the night to help the Bulldogs top the Blue Pirates, 20-14, in both team's season opener.
"He's our workhorse, and we're not making any secrets about him," Claysburg-Kimmel coach Joe Kitt said regarding Helsel. "He's going to run the ball a lot for us, and he's a heck of a kid who is a tough runner that got big yards for us tonight, especially at the end of the game when we needed it."
Helsel finished with a game-high 121 yards on 24 carries, but his biggest two rushes were for just 2 and 1 yard - his scores.
"We knew that we had to win this game, and we came out fired up after they took the lead," Helsel said. "We played our hardest. It feels great, but I want to give the credit to my [offensive] line. They did a great job."
Though both teams are from the Inter-County Conference's Silver Division, Friday's game did not count in the division standings. The squads will play again in Claysburg on Oct. 12 in a divisional contest.
If that game is anything like the season opener, it should be close. Extremely close.
Claysburg out-rushed Williamsburg, 143-141. The Blue Pirates threw for 30 yards passing while the Bulldogs accumulated 26 yards. Williamsburg out-gained C-K for the game, 171-169.
However, the one glaring difference between the squads was turnover ratio. Claysburg made none while Williamsburg lost two fumbles and threw an interception.
"We made some mistakes, and we had opportunities to move the ball down but just couldn't capitalize," Williamsburg coach Bob Hearn said. "The kids played hard, but there were just a couple little things here and there. That's the difference between winning a game like this and losing one."
The Bulldogs took a 6-0 lead on the first play of the second quarter on a Helsel run, but Alan Shanholtz, who rushed for 94 yards on 19 carries, pulled the Blue Pirates even with 36 seconds to play in the half. Quinton Snyder, who caught a 35-yard pass to set up the score, made the extra point to give Williamsburg the lead at the half.
Williamsburg extended its lead to 14-6 when Cody Bookhammer recovered an onside kick to begin the second half, and Austin McMonagle scored on a 1-yard quarterback sneak.
"We just wanted to kick it on the ground, and it didn't go real far," Hearn said. "Our kids covered it hard. It wasn't planned, but it worked out."
The Blue Pirates forced C-K to punt on its next possession, but the Bulldogs' Doug Knisely recovered a fumble at the Williamsburg 20-yard line. Three plays later, Trey Claar found Devin Weyandt in the end zone for a 4-yard touchdown pass.
Williamsburg's Mike Biddle stopped Helsel on the two-point conversion to temporarily keep the Blue Pirates ahead, but a partially blocked punt led to another short field for Claysburg just prior to Helsel's second and game-winning touchdown.
The Bulldogs host West Branch next Friday while Williamsburg will travel to Southern Huntingdon.
"We lost that kickoff, and it could have very easily been the end of us," Kitt said. "We hung in there and were able to capitalize on their turnovers when we needed to."
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Claysburg-Kimmel0 6 6 8 - 20
Williamsburg0 7 7 0 - 14
CK-Helsel 2 run (pass failed), 11:55.
WB-Shanholtz 2 run (Snyder kick), 0:36.
WB-McMonagle 1 run (Snyder kick), 9:47.
CK-Weyandt 4 pass from Claar (run failed), 4:40.
CK-Helsel 1 run (Repko pass from Helsel), 11:54.
RUSHING: Claysburg-Kimmel-Helsel 24-121, Repko 4-16, Weyandt 1-12, Claar 1-(-5), TEAM 3-(-3). Williamsburg-Shanholtz 19-94, Dishong 12-39, Morrissey 3-9, Bookhammer 1-7, McMonagle 5-(-6).
PASSING: Claysburg-Kimmel-Claar 3-8-0-20, Helsel 1-2-0-6. Williamsburg-McMonagle 4-9-1-30.
RECEIVING: Claysburg-Kimmel-Repko 1-11, Claar 1-6, Helsel 1-5, Weyandt 1-4. Williamsburg-Morrissey 2-(-9), Snyder 1-35, Shanholtz 1-4.
INTERCEPTIONS: Claysburg-Kimmel-Brown. Williamsburg-none.