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Tigers capture historic victory

In a season of uncertainty, Elkins upsets top-seed Sissonville for first-ever playoff win

SISSONVILLE — Elkins High School’s previous five trips to the state football playoffs had ended in heart-breaking defeats until Friday night.

In a year filled with uncertainty due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a Tiger team without a home venue for the entire season recorded the first playoff win in school history by knocking off top-seed Sissonville, 42-27, in Class AA first-round action.

The senior-laden Elkins squad of coach Evan Hott, whose father Greg Hott had guided the Tigers to three playoff appearances during his tenure, had an answer for the Indians all evening, with the final 9:00 of regulation capping the historic win.

After Sissonville forged ahead, 27-26, on a 44-yard run by Dylan Griffith with 9:34 left in regulation, Elkins responded when Virginia transfer Dante Ramirez returned the kickoff 97 yards for a score and the Tigers never trailed again.

A fumble by the Indians on their next possession near midfield resulted in another TD when senior quarterback Rodney Vandevender went in from 12 yards out to make it 42-27 after the second straight successful conversion run, one by Trevor Smith and the other by Demanuel Smith.

Sissonville again fumbled on the ensuing kickoff — and behind the running of Trevor Smith and Vandevender — Elkins was able to run out the clock.

Vandevender, who also a short TD run on the second play of the fourth quarter, led the Tigers with 119 yards rushing. He was complimented by Trevor Smith with 104 and Ramirez with 76.

The Tigers carried an 18-13 lead into the intermission.

Ramirez started the scoring on an 11-yard run with 6:04 left in the first quarter to make it 6-0.

The Indians then capitalized on an EHS miscue on a fumble on a punt to take a 7-6 lead when Jackson Foster hit Braeden Murray for a 41-yard score.

Elkins answered with 10:32 left in the first half when Ramirez scored again from 11 yards out to put the Tigers back in front 12-7.

A 1-yard run by Griffith then gave Sissonville a 13-12 cushion.

The Tigers, however, were able to go into the dressing room with a five-point lead when Vandevender found a wide-open Peyton Isner from 27 yards out on a play-action pass with 2:40 left in the second canto.

Elkins (6-3) will now face either No. 9 Poca or No. 8 Robert C. Byrd next weekend in the quarterfinals. Pending today’s COVID-19 map, RCB is set to host Poca on Sunday.

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