Greenbrier West Defense Shines in Home Opener - West Virginia Daily News
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Greenbrier West Defense Shines in Home Opener

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Charmco – Fans of the 80’s action-adventure series “The A-Team” will recall an oft-repeated line by John “Hannibal” Smith, “I love it when a plan comes together.” For Greenbrier West head coach Toby Harris was extremely pleased with the way his game plan unfolded Friday night in a shutout of the Pocahontas County Warriors. The result was even more impressive given the fact the Cavalier staff had prepared to play the James Monroe Mavericks all weekend following their victory over Summers County. The Cavaliers had remained in close contact with Maverick head coach John Mustain regarding the Covid-19 numbers in Monroe County, though, and the contingency plan was put in place after being negotiated between the Cavaliers, Mavericks, and Warriors.

The Warriors got the ball first but were only able to generate one first down before punting the ball back to the Cavaliers. For the second consecutive week, Greenbrier West would march directly down the field and score on their opening possession. Ty Nickell, Cole Vandall, Jayden Robinson, and Marcus Adkins all took a turn carrying the football on a twelve-play drive that ended with a Vandall sneak from the six-yard line. The scoring drive covered sixty-four yards and really established the Cavalier run game. Nickell ran right, left and up the gut mixing in a combination of sweeps and powers with Adkins and Robinson complimenting the effort. Vandall connected with Robinson on the two-point try, but Warrior linebacker Evan Hamrick cut Robinson down short of the goal line.

Pocahontas County struggled to put things together on their second drive and stalled again at midfield. Taking over at their own 13, the Cavaliers again looked to Nickell. A crushing block by Robinson took out two Warrior defenders and Nickell carried for 21 yards to give West some breathing room. Vandall kept the Cavalier drive alive with another sneak, this time on fourth down at the Cavalier 43-yard line. Nickell burst loose around the right side again and carried the ball into Warrior territory, but a holding call negated the run and backed the Cavaliers up to their own 39. Vandall faked a pitch to Nickell on 1st and 15, then darted down the middle of the field to the Warrior 48. Nickell and Vandall alternated carries and got a lucky bounce on an option to the right that came back into Nickell’s hands allowing him to keep his momentum to the Pocahontas 23 for another Cavalier first down. Nickell would carry three more times on the drive, and his dive to the pylon after Daniel Burdette tripped him up at the nine came up short of the goal line. Robinson punched it in the endzone from there, and Nickell added the conversion run for a 14-0 lead with 9:13 remaining in the second quarter.

For the third time in the game, the Warriors’ offense couldn’t muster anything to advance past midfield. A Burdette punt pinned the Cavaliers back at their own 11. Vandall kept the ball himself to gain a first down, then tossed a beautiful completion to Chase McClung who hauled it in at the Warrior 48 before being brought down at the 35. McClung wasn’t finished on the drive, plucking a quick hitter from Vandall out of the air in front of the Warrior sideline and taking it down to the 18. Nickell positioned the Cavaliers at the fifteen-yard line and Vandall connected for his third completion of the drive. This time he located Roy Loudermilk for the touchdown. Loudermilk took advantage of a breakdown in Warrior coverage and was uncovered on the play. The most difficult thing Loudermilk had to do was wait for the lofted pass to settle in his hands, saying after the game he was telling himself “Just catch it.” Unable to convert with a run, West led 20-0 with 2:23 to play before the half.

The Cavaliers were able to kick off from the Warrior 45 as the result of a dead-ball personal foul following the West conversion try. Robinson booted the ball to the goal line, but Tucker McGee was able to return it to the Warrior 20. Warrior quarterback Braedan Hayhurst wasted no time connecting with Burdette across the middle for a 15-yard gain, and the duo connected a second time to push the ball to the Warrior 45-yard line. Now feeling confident and looking to get something positive in motion for Pocahontas County, Hayhurst dropped back for a third time looking to throw a slant to McGee on the right side. Cavalier defensive tackle Joey Terry got a good push up field and forced Hayhurst to get rid of the ball. Vandall, who had moved to linebacker this week after playing cornerback in the Cavaliers’ first two contests, sliced to his left and leapt into the air, picking off the Hayhurst pass and returned it 43 yards for the score. West had effectively put the game out of reach leading 26-0 at halftime.

The Cavaliers got the ball first in the second and looked good with Nickell once again carrying the load. Working from their own 25-yard line, West quickly moved into Warrior territory. Facing a 2nd and 1 at the Warrior 30, Vandall rolled right and looked to throw. McClung and Tucker Lilly were in the same vicinity when Vandall tried to dump a pass in their direction. McGee picked off the errant throw and momentarily stifled the Cavalier offense.

The two teams traded possessions for the remainder of the third quarter. At the start of the fourth quarter, the Cavalier defense would come up big once again. Warrior signal-caller Hayhurst once again got pressure from Joey Terry and had to get rid of the ball. McClung, who had moved from corner to safety during the week, settled under the throw and intercepted it at the Warrior 49-yard. He sprinted in front of a cheering Cavalier sideline before being knocked out of bounds at the 27. It took only three carries for Robinson to put the Warriors away for good, carrying the ball in for his second 2-yard touchdown of the night.

Greenbrier West moves to 2-1 with the 32-0 win. They host the winless Webster County Highlanders this Friday. Ty Nickell had his second consecutive 100-yard rushing performance, gaining 127yds on 20 carries. Roy Loudermilk’s touchdown came on his first career reception. Cole Vandall, who was awarded the McDonald’s Player of the Game by the Rock 95 crew, had his first career pick-six in the win. Chase McClung’s interception was the first of his brief career. Before the game, the Cavaliers honored the 13 troops who perished on August 26 in Afghanistan as well as the victims of 9/11, active military, veterans, and first responders. Greenbrier West wore a gray jersey and gray pants combination for the first time ever in the tribute game.

Pocahontas Co. (1-1) 0 0 0 0 – 0
Greenbrier West (2-1) 6 20 0 6 – 32

4:54 1st – Cole Vandall 6yd TD (Pass failed)
9:13 2nd – Jayden Robinson 2yd TD (Ty Nickell run)
2:23 2nd – Roy Loudermilk 15yd pass from Cole Vandall (Run failed)
1:29 2nd – Cole Vandall 43yd interception return (Pass failed)
10:56 4th – Jayden Robinson 2yd TD (Pass failed)

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Passing – (GW) Cole Vandall 5/9 73-1-1. (PC) Braedan Hayhurst 9/16-0-2

Rushing – (GW) Ty Nickell 20-127, Cole Vandall 14-69 1TD (6), Jayden Robinson 6-40 2 TD (2,2), Marcus Adkins 2-4, Kameron Shrewsbery 1-1, Isaac Agee 1-1, Tucker Lilly 3 – (-2), Chris Davis 2 – (-2)

(PC) Nacota Smith 8-40, Daniel Burdette 5-40, Connor Taylor 3-4, Evan Hamrick 6-3, Frankie Burgess 3-1, Gavin Walls 1-1, Braedan Hayhurst 3 – (-14)

Receiving – (GW) Chase McClung 3-60, Roy Loudermilk 1-15 TD (15), Tucker Lilly 1 – (-2)

(PC) Daniel Burdette 4-59, Tucker McGee 3-19, Frankie Burgess 1-1, Evan Hamrick 1-0

Turnovers – Cole Vandall 1 INT (43TD), Chase McClung 1 INT (22)

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