It was supposed to be a back-and-forth shootout in Fairlea on Friday, Oct. 8 when the 9th ranked Greenbrier East Spartans hosted the Oak Hill Red Devils and it was going to entertain all in attendance. Passes were expected to fly, players were going to hit the edges and get up the field, and the scoreboard was going to have a lot of big numbers on its screen.
However, East could only muster a field goal as the Red Devils came to Greenbrier County, executed their game plan, played good defense and left with a new record of 3-4 after a 23-3 victory.
The win was just Oak Hill’s eighth all-time against East in 26 meetings, but the second in a row after a victory last year as well.
Oak Hill got on the scoreboard first after a bad snap sequence from the Spartans punt team. Noah Dotson could not handle it cleanly and the Red Devils jumped on the ball deep in East territory. The East defense did their job though, and held Oak Hill to a 22-yard field Ethan Vargo-Thomas field goal, and the visitors took a 3-0 lead early.
After forcing the Spartans(4-2) to punt, the Red Devils struck gold again.
On the third play of their subsequent possession, quarterback Jacob Ward found Braxton Hall on a 37-yard touchdown pass in which Hall got completely behind the defense. Following that score and the extra point, Oak Hill led 10-0 with 2:47 left in the first quarter.
“We had too many miscues and they took advantage of every miscue and made it count for them,” East coach Ray Lee said.
The Spartans put together a long drive in the second quarter that went 15 plays. After Monquelle Davis was sacked, he then completed a 25-yard pass to running back Ian Cline on 3rd-and-24 for a much needed first down. But on second-and-goal from the 2-yard line, Davis rolled out and threw an interception to Elijah Gray. The back-breaking play gave the ball back to Oak Hill with 7:45 left in the first half.
“We didn’t capitalize when we needed to,” Lee said.
And that continued to be the theme throughout the night.
Oak Hill would extend their lead on the next series when Vargo-Thomas got loose and scampered 47 yards for a touchdown. That extended the Red Devils lead to 16-0 with 2:18 until halftime, after the Spartans blocked the extra point attempt.
Lucas McCallister appeared to give the Spartans some momentum on the ensuing kickoff when he returned it 31 yards. It appeared to have worked as McCallister then caught a long pass on the first play of the series, and Cline followed that with a 35-yard catch on the second play. But the drive stalled immediately after, and East settled for a Dotson 34-yard field goal and a 16-3 halftime deficit.
There was not much offense in the third quarter outside of a couple big plays from each team. For the Spartans, Davis got injured on the opening drive, and a couple possessions later, the Spartans blocked a field goal by Vargo-Thomas after he (Vargo-Thomas) got the Red Devils down the field with a 35-yard catch.
The theme of the night was summed up when Bryson Ormsbeecaught a 27-yard pass, but after the play, a 15-yard personal foul was called on the Spartans and the wind was taken out of their proverbial sails.
Lee was disappointed, but credited the Red Devils for the way they played.
“I tell our team all the time you can’t make mistakes against good football teams and expect to win. Oak Hill is a good football team,” he said.
Oak Hill running back Leonard Farrow added a 25-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter to cap the game’s scoring.
The Spartans had 256 yards of offense with 158 on the ground. Cline ran for 119 yards and had four catches for 53 yards. He was named the McDonald’s player of the game. Davis threw for 103 before leaving with the injury.
Oak Hill gained 272 yards. Farrow ran for 88 yards and a score. Vargo-Thomas had just eight carries, but turned those into 87 yards and a touchdown. He also had 35 receiving yards.
“Hopefully this was a humbling experience for our football team, Lee said.
“We want to finish the year strong. Sometimes good teams need a loss to bring them back down and get them focused again,” he concluded.
The Spartans will look to rebound when they travel to Ripley this Friday, Oct. 15 for a critical matchup with the Vikings. The two teams were supposed to play last season, but the game was canceled.
Stats courtesy of WRON, 103.1.