LEWISBURG (WVDN) – On Friday evening, Aug. 26, the weather was perfect for the Greenbrier East Spartans to kick off their 2022 season. There was not a cloud in the sky and the parking lot was full.
However, the game did not go as anticipated.
The Spartans suffered a 30-7 loss to the Point Pleasant Big Blacks as they struggled to get anything going offensively and could not contain the star-studded ground attack that the Big Blacks brought with them.
Missed opportunities and a lack of their own ground game plagued East all night long and they could never seem to get in any kind of rhythm.
After the Spartans went three-and-out on their first series, Point Pleasant was moving the ball on their possession until Gavin Jeffers fumbled and Monquelle Davis jumped on it for the Spartans, but they ran just three plays, punted again, and failed to capitalize.
Opportunity arose again on the Big Black’s next drive when Caden Hill dropped the ball on the turf and East’s Ian Cline fell on it to give the ball back to the Spartans.
They put together a better drive following that turnover highlighted by two 16-yard runs from Davis after the pocket collapsed around him. On the eighth play, Gavin Bennett had checked in at quarterback and completed a 12-yard pass to Jake Pate. The drive eventually stalled as the Spartans settled for a Noah Dotson field goal, but Point Pleasant exploded through the line and blocked it, ending East’s chance at an early lead.
Early in the second quarter, with Point Pleasant driving deep into Spartan territory, their tight end Cody Schultz fumbled and for the third straight possession, East recovered it (Cline).
Pate dropped a pass on the next drive that may have gone for a score, and the collective gasps throughout the stadium sounded like the wind had finally come out of the Spartans sails.
Point Pleasant used that emotion to their advantage on the ensuing series.
Quarterback Evan Roach started with a 6-yard run. Hill followed with a 22-yard scamper, and two plays later, Roach got loose for 16 more. The drive was capped by Roach on a 1-yard touchdown run as the Big Blacks took a 7-0 lead with 6:40 left in the first half.
The Spartans (0-1) headed down the field on a nice drive aided by a fourth down conversion and a pass interference call on Point Pleasant. However, Bennett dropped back to throw and fired the ball to the back of the end zone, but the pass was tipped in the air and intercepted. The ball appeared to hit the crossbar of the goal post, which would have resulted in an incomplete pass, but the play stood as called and killed another opportunity for the Spartans.
Alex Shrader connected on a 36-yard field goal to end the half for a 10-0 Point Pleasant lead at the break.
The Big Blacks (1-0) opened the second half with an 8-play drive that ended in the end zone on Roach’s 14-yard run with 8:40 left in the third quarter. That made the score 17-0.
C.W. Sturgell finally broke a long play for East with a run of 35 yards, but he lost the ball after he was hit, and the Big Blacks recovered. Sturgell also was shaken up on the play and was helped off the field.
Later in the quarter, Point Pleasant put the game away on a Roach 3-yard run that extended their lead to 23-0.
East’s best play of the night came on the first play of the fourth quarter when Cline took a pitch handoff and threw down field to McCallister who hauled it in for a 56-yard touchdown. It gave the Spartans a bit of hope, but as they did all night, Point Pleasant squashed the optimism.
They used a seven-minute drive that was capped by Roach’s fourth touchdown of the night, a 13-yarder, and a 30-7 lead, and the final nail in the Spartan coffin.
Cline, who ran for 1,677 yards a year ago and was named first-team all-state, was held to -2 yards on 10 carries. The Big Blacks focused on him from the get-go.
McCallister was the McDonald’s Player of the Game. He had four catches for 78 yards and a score.
East managed just 56 yards on the ground and 212 total. Bennett threw for 83 yards on 8-for-13 passing.
Roach had 208 yards and four touchdowns, and Jeffers ran for 120 on 18 carries. Those two helped Point Pleasant rush for 412 yards of the 448 total.
The Spartans will need to bounce back quickly as they face their biggest rival, the Woodrow Wilson Flying Eagles (1-0) this Friday, Sept. 2, at Spartan Stadium. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.
Stats courtesy of WRON, 103.1.
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