When the 11th ranked Greenbrier East Spartans play a football game this season, it is going to be highly entertaining, high scoring and just plain fun.
That was the case again Friday night, October 23, when East lined up against the Class AA number 1 ranked Sissonville Indians. On one hand, the game was a thriller but, unfortunately on the other hand, the Spartans suffered a 60-47 loss in front of a decent sized COVID-19 crowd at Spartan Stadium in Fairlea.
The game started off hot literally from the opening kickoff.
East took the ball first as Colby Piner fielded the kick. Piner, as he always seems to do, headed up the field, found a seam and went 75 yards for a score to give the Spartans a 6-0 lead just 14 seconds into the contest.
Sissonville (4-0) answered partially with a nice long drive. Quarterback Jackson Foster found Nick Hanins for a 12-yard gain on the first play. Four plays later, East was flagged for pass interference, which put the ball deep on the Spartans side of the field. But the defense tightened up from there and held the Indians to a 23-yard Jackson Haynes field goal. That made the score 6-3 with 7:41 remaining in the opening quarter.
The Spartans (5-3) converted a crucial 4th down attempt on the ensuing drive when Monquelle Davis scrambled for 12 yards. Then, just as it looked like the Spartans offense was stalling out, Davis took off again and scored on a 24-yard touchdown run. Piner added the two-point conversion and East took a 14-3 lead.
The Indians moved the ball again on their next series with star running back Dylan Griffith, but like their first possession, the Spartan defense stepped up inside the 25-yard line and held them to another Haynes field goal, this time from 40 yards out; and East led 14-6 early in the second quarter.
Two Sissonville possessions later, after getting good field position, Griffith busted loose for a 40-yard run, then Foster capped the two-play drive with a 5-yard score. Foster also scored the two-point try and the game was tied at 14-all.
East punted again as their offense started to slow and Sissonville took advantage. After Braeden Murray’s 12-yard catch and Foster’s 8-yard run on fourth down, Braden Perdue hauled in a 16-yard touchdown pass and the Indians had reeled off 18 points in a row to take a 21-14 lead.
But not to be overshadowed was Davis. He hit Christian McNeely on the very next play for a 51-yard touchdown pass and East knotted the score back up at 21-21. Garrett Bennett got a sack of Foster as the half ended with the score still tied.
The second half was an offensive outburst with little pushback from either defense.
Foster found Hanins for a 43-yard pass on the Indians opening drive of the third quarter. Then Foster took it upon himself to find the end zone, which he did on a 29-yard run, and it was a 28-21 Sissonville lead on the scoreboard with 10:12 remaining on the clock.
East then went to their thunder back, Quentin Wilson. Wilson ripped off a 19-yard run. Then he picked up 11 more. Two plays later he was across the pylons on a 19-yard touchdown run and the score was tied yet again at 28-all.
Then Griffith took the game over for Sissonville.
He picked up 68 yards on the following series, including a 55-yarder that set up his 3-yard touchdown run. After the six play, 83-yard drive, the Indians led 35-28.
Midway through the third, following a missed Sissonville field goal, Piner went 80 yards on the first play of the series and tied the score up at 35-35.
Sissonville added another Haynes field goal — his third of the night — for a 38-35 lead after three quarters.
East would answer the score with the resiliency they have displayed all year. Nate Baker’s 37-yard run sparked the offense, then Piner finished the possession off with a 5-yard touchdown. The extra point missed, but East had retaken the lead at 41-38 with 9:58 to go in the game.
However, that lead was short lived. Foster scrambled for 21 yards two plays later. Griffith would then score on a 35-yard scamper and it was 45-41, Sissonville.
Piner then scored on a 20-yard run that was set up by his 43-yard run earlier in the drive. The Spartans then held a 47-45 advantage with just over seven minutes to play.
But that would be East’s final score. Griffith and Foster each added touchdown runs the rest of the way to put the game out of reach and sent the Spartans to their second loss in the last three contests.
Sissonville finished the game with 587 yards — 485 of those on the ground. Griffith exploded for 318 yards on 33 carries and three TD’s. Foster added 126 and two more scores.
The Spartan offense put up 500 yards as well, but in shootouts sometimes it’s just not enough. Piner led the way with 200 yards on 16 carries and four total touchdowns. Davis threw for 132 yards and ran for 72 more on 15 carries.
This was Sissonville’s third game in 12 days.
JT Spencer took home McDonald’s player of the game honors and was everywhere on defense, though the final score does not indicate that.
The Spartans will face another high-flying offense when they travel to face the Princeton Tigers (4-2) this Friday night, October 30. In their last four games, the Tigers have scored 40, 58, 68 and 54 points. Look for the game preview later this week.
Stats courtesy of 103.1, WRON.