Late last Saturday night, the Greenbrier East Spartans found out they would not be going to play the Poca Dots in Putnam County on Friday, September 11, due to that county turning orange on the COVID-19 metric chart.
Instead the Spartans headed 227 miles to Shenandoah Junction and played the Jefferson Cougars.
The Spartans got off to a fast start, but three turnovers proved to play a critical role as East suffered a 42-23 defeat.
The Spartans (1-1) put together a promising opening drive when they converted four first downs and were marching right down the field with relative ease. However, quarterback Monquelle Davis was sacked for an 11-yard loss and the once positive drive turned negative quickly. East eventually punted.
Jefferson (1-1) used that momentum on the ensuing possession as Sammy Roberts hit Spencer Powell with a 25-yard pass on the first play. Two plays later, Roberts found Isaiah Prince for a 15-yard strike.
After another 26-yard completion to Powell that put the ball at the Spartan 2-yard line, running back Nick Smith punched it in from there and the Cougars took a 7-0 lead with 3:11 left in the opening quarter.
Later in the quarter, the Cougars got deep into East territory again thanks in part to Christian Blowe’s 65-yard run, but Oren Humphries missed a 19-yard field goal that kept the score the same.
The Spartans used that shift in momentum a couple drives later to finally get on the board. Colby Piner and Davis got East deep in Cougar territory and Nate Baker did the rest when he took the snap and found the end zone from three yards out. Noah Dotson added the extra point, and the Spartans tied the game at 7-all with 6:48 left on the first half clock.
Piner put his own personal touch on the contest soon after that.
He intercepted a Roberts pass to get the ball back to his offense. He then capitalized on his own fortune when he caught a 53-yard touchdown pass from Davis that gave the Spartans a 13-7 lead.
However, the momentum changed on East’s next series.
Their defense made a nice stand and the offense took over with just 1:18 left on the clock. While trying to get a quick score and extend their lead, Davis dropped back and fired a pass, but it was intercepted by Jefferson’s Lee Forshay who returned it 19 yards to the East side of the field. It took only three plays for the Cougars to score when Prince caught a 12-yard pass for a huge momentum swing and a 14-13 Cougar halftime lead.
Jefferson got the ball first to start the second half and made it count. Evan Toole and Powell each made big plays with Toole capping the drive with a 16-yard touchdown scamper and the Cougars went ahead 21-13 early in the third period.
Baker got the Spartans closer with another touchdown run, this one from two yards out, as the Spartans cut the deficit to 28-21. That drive went 12 plays for 73 yards.
But Prince answered yet again with a 25-yard touchdown reception and the Cougars never looked back.
East defensive end Jared Shoffner recorded a safety for East’s only other points in the game.
The story of the game was turnovers. Jefferson committed a couple, but they never really hurt themselves. On the Spartan side, their miscues led to two Cougar touchdowns and it proved to be one of the biggest factors in the loss.
The Spartans gained 396 yards of total offense. Jefferson totaled 498 yards.
Quentin Wilson led the Spartans with 103 yards on 14 carries. Davis ran for 88 yards and threw for 109. Piner had 55 rushing yards, 109 receiving and 56 on a kickoff return. He was the named McDonald’s player of the game.
Roberts was 19-for-32 passing for 292 yards and three TD’s. Powell caught five of those passes for 127 yards.
The Spartans return home this Friday, September 18, to host the Wyoming East Warriors. East Will be hosting their senior night so the seniors on the squad can be fully recognized in case the season must be suddenly canceled due to COVID-19.
Stats courtesy of WRON, 103.1