BUENA VISTA TOWNSHIP - Buena Regional High School football coach Paul Callahan moved his best player to quarterback this season even though he had never previously played there.
Callahan wanted the football in Donetae McKinnon's hands as much as possible.
So far, the McKinnon quarterback experiment is a success. He ran 26 times, threw it six times and had a hand in nearly every play.
He led the Chiefs to a 19-12 win over Pleasantville High School in a Cape-Atlantic League National Conference game Friday night. McKinnon had 169 yards on 26 carries with two touchdowns. He completed 4-of-6 passes for 40 yards.
"Earlier this morning, I was a little nervous, but when I saw everyone out there, I was feeling good," McKinnon said. "I took snaps at quarterback instead of running back to get the ball in my hands quicker."
McKinnon, a running back before this season, has become a better passer over the last couple of weeks, Callahan said. In a preseason scrimmage, McKinnon didn't yet look like much of a passer.
However, against Pleasantville (0-2), he looked as though he belonged there. He becomes a problem for opposing teams because defenses never know what he'll do.
McKinnon could take a direct snap and run the ball, which he did often.
Or throw a little dump pass and let his teammates do the work.
"I went to a couple of QB camps and learned the rules," McKinnon said. "I like it (being a quarterback) because I get to just catch the ball and run. I don't have to take handoffs."
Buena's offense had more than just its quarterback. When McKinnon wasn't running, junior Michael Haygood took over the load.
He ran for 123 yards on nine carries, including a 54-yard touchdown.
"I got speed, he got speed and he can also throw the ball a little bit," Haygood said. "We're just lightning and thunder."
Buena jumped on Pleasantville with a long drive on the first possession. The Chiefs ran 11 plays and drove 70 yards that was capped by McKinnon's 3-yard touchdown run.
On the next possession, Buena didn't wait as long to score. Haygood took in the 54-yarder to make it 13-0 with 19.2 seconds left in the first quarter.
At halftime, Pleasantville made some key adjustments to get the ball. The Greyhounds had just 50 yards of offense up to that point.
"We changed up the blocking on a schemes a little bit," Pleasantville coach William Burch said. "We wanted to get the ball in our best athletes' hands."
The Greyhounds first touchdown wasn't easy. The called play was a double-reverse pass. Only they fumbled the ball before it found its way into Antwon Dixon's hands.
However, Dixon picked it up, took a couple of steps and unleashed the throw before two Buena players tackled him.
Dixon found Rashad Gant, who took it in for a 70-yard touchdown with 5:30 left in the third quarter to make it 19-6.
"We try instill in them all week, we keep fighting until the end," Burch said. "If you keep fighting, eventually you're going to come out on top. But we have to put together a full game of football, not just a half, to beat a team."
The Greyhounds held the ball to start the fourth quarter. Pleasantville nursed a drive that took it 62 yards for its second touchdown on the back of Lionel Munyeneh, who finished with 62 yards on 15 carries.
Dixon caught a 5-yard touchdown from Jacob Haines with 9:31 left in the game to make it 19-12.
Buena did its best to run the clock and had a big 37-yard run by Haygood on a third-and-10 to keep the clock moving.
That half didn't leave Callahan a happy man.
"We tell them all the time, if we block we are going to get those kids space and see what they could do," he said. "This was the same type of half we had against Pleasantville last year and then we went out the next week and beat Bridgeton. Hopefully, we respond the same way."
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Pleasantville 0 0 6 6 - 12
Buena Regional 13 0 6 0 - 19
BR- McKinnon 3 run (Brown kick)
BR-Haygood 54 run (kick blocked)
BR-McKinnon 25 run (run failed)
P-Gant 22 pass from Dixon (kick failed)
P-Dixon 5 pass from Haines (pass failed)
First Downs 6 10
Rushing 75 283
Passing 82 49
Turnovers 0 0
Rushing - Munyeneh 15-62, Brown 3-14, Haines 6-2, Dixon 3- (-3) P; McKinnon 26-169, Haygood 9-123, Brown 2- -8, Austin 1- (-1) BR.
Passing - Haines 3-7-0-12, Dixon 1-1-0-70 P; McKinnon 4-6-0-49 BR.
Receiving - Gant 1-70, Brown 1-7, Munyeneh 1-0, Dixon 1 -5 P; Hillgrube 2-35, Haygood 2-14 BR.
RECORDS -Buena Regional 1-0, Pleasantville 0-1.