Cavaliers Knockout the Highlanders

Charmco – Mike Tyson used to end his fights about as quickly as they started. How’d he do it? Attack, attack, attack. Every punch was designed to destroy his opponent. Twenty-two times in his career, Tyson delivered the knockout blow in the first round. On Friday night, Webster County might as well have been Tyson-victim Michael Spinks. The Cavaliers delivered power punch after power punch in the first quarter to put the game out of reach early in a 58-6 shellacking of the Highlanders.

Webster County won the coin toss and elected to receive. The other team can’t score if they don’t have the ball, right? The Highlanders wouldn’t have it for long. On first down from his own 26 yard line, Highlander quarterback Peyton McCourt dropped back and looked to his left. His teammate, senior wide receiver CJ Wayne, had used a double move to free himself from West cornerback Kameron Shrewsbery at the line. McCourt drifted to his left and lofted a wobbly pass in Wayne’s direction. Shrewsbery had recovered to catch Wayne, but he didn’t need to. Free safety Chase McClung, a rebounding machine for the Cavalier basketball team, slipped underneath Wayne and Shrewsbery and elevated for a one-handed interception at the at the Webster County 39 yard line. McClung raced down the Cavalier sideline before being knocked out of bounds at the three-yard line. Two plays later, Ty Nickell punched the ball into the endzone. Jacob Nutter added the PAT for a 7-0 lead with only forty-two seconds off the clock.

A nine-play Highlander drive ended at the Cavalier 34-yard line when, on 4th and 14, Webster County running back Conner Bell rolled to his right in an attempt to throw a halfback pass. West freshman Bradley Hodge batted the ball to the ground to turn the Highlanders over on downs. The Cavaliers wasted no time. Nickell took a pitch to left, started up the field, and cut back to the right. Nickell brought the ball up the Cavalier sideline and was grazed just enough to knock him out of bounds after a 49-yard gain. Now in Highlander territory, West quarterback Cole Vandall rolled to his left looking for an open receiver. Facing pressure from the defensive end, Vandall squared his shoulders and slipped between four Highlander defenders. Free from the line of scrimmage, Vandall worked his way into the Webster County secondary and broke another tackle at the 15-yard line and slipped into the endzone. Nutter’s PAT sailed wide left, but West was in control 13-0 with 6:37 to go in the first quarter.

On the ensuing kickoff, the Cavaliers suffered their only blemish of the night. Greenbrier West kicker Jayden Robinson booted a ball that settled at the Highlander ten. Bell was trying to scoop the football up but bobbled it briefly, then gathered it in and started up the Highlander sideline. Most of the Cavalier coverage team had postioned at a general area around the hash mark and Bell burst past them by heading up the sideline. By the time Bell reached his own 45, he had cleared everyone including his teammates and raced into the endzone for a 90-yard kickoff return touchdown. It was the second consecutive week the Highlanders had a kickoff return touchdown. Rayden Triplett’s PAT hit the left upright and richochted back onto the field, but the Highlanders had trimmed the Cavalier lead to seven points with 6:24 to go in the first quarter.

Mike Tyson was once quoted as saying “everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” If Webster County had designs on a comeback, Greenbrier West was prepared to squash it immediately. After two short gains from Vandall, Nickell delivered the roundhouse. Going right to left, Nickell followed the blocks of Nutter and Jacob Perkins off of the left side and he was off to the races in front of the Highlander bench. Sixty yards later, Nickell had re-established the Cavaliers’ lead with Nutter adding the PAT. The West defense held the Highlanders to a quick three-and-out series and wasted no time finding the endzone. Vandall launched a deep throw to McClung who had gotten five yards behind the Webster County secondary. McClung sprinted under the spiral for a 63yard touchdown reception. The Cavaliers led 26-6 with 3:21 left in the first quarter.

Greenbrier West wasn’t finished. Jacob Perkins recovered a fumble at the Highlander 38-yard line and the Cavaliers wanted more. Robinson and sophomore Tucker Lilly alternated carries down to the Webster County four, setting up a first and goal as the second quarter began. Vandall attempted to throw a slant to Colby Winnings but it was deflected. On second and goal, Vandall waited for Winnings to find a window between two Highlander defenders and zipped the slant pass to him. The touchdown reception was the first of Winnings’ career. The Cavalier lead was 32-6 with 11:56 left in the second.

The West defense smothered Webster County again forcing another three and out punt. Working from their own 46, Lilly carried twice into Highlander territory before Vandall made a nice move to evade a defender and hit Robinson. Robinson’s catch would’ve given West a first down at the Highlander 28, but a holding call against the Cavaliers backed them up. Nickell recouped most of the penalty yardage with an 8-yard gain, and Lilly got the first down on a three-yard carry. After trading penalties on the next three snaps, Vandall slung a pass to Trent Parker in the right flat. Parker turned up the field and earned the Cavaliers a first down. From the 19-yard line, Vandall started to his left with Nickell to his outside. Two Highlander defenders went with Nickell on the option, and Vandall took advantage by keeping the ball and splitting the secondary for his second rushing touchdown of the night. Greenbrier West was cruising at this point with a 38-6 advantage with 7:05 left in the 2nd.

Trailing by 32 with half of the second quarter left to play, desperation set in for the Highlanders. Facing a fourth and nine from their own thirty-three yard line, Webster County decided to go a first down rather than punt the ball away. Reney Cordial burst through the line to disrupt McCourt who appeared to be attempting to throw a pass. Sophomore tackle Darren Vaughan sacked McCourt at the Webster County 30-yard line to turn the Highlanders over on downs. Nickell went to work for the Cavaliers with a nine-yard gain on first down. A short dump pass to Lilly lost a yard setting up Nickell on third down. Running the same play the Cavaliers had scored on for their third touchdown of the night, Nickell ripped through the line and headed for the endzone. In a selfless act that will never appear in a box score, Nickell slowed down and took a knee inside the one-yard line. The Cavaliers wanted to give Chase Franklin, their senior center, an opportunity to score a high school touchdown and Nickell recognized the chance to do so with such a ocmmanding lead. Franklin lined up at fullback and ran the dive into the endzone for the score. The West lead was 44-6 with 2:48 remaining in the first half.

Webster County had no luck running outthe remainder of the clock in the first half. Suffering a failed center-to-quarterback exchange, the Cavaliers recovered at the Highlander 19. Robinson carried four times on the drive, scoring from two yards out on a second and goal with 0:16 remaining in the half. Vandall was given a shot at a PAT after Nutter had handled the duties all night, but the attempt was blocked. West led 50-6 at the break in a game that was over for all intents and purposes. With a running clock in the fourth quarter, Cavalier reserves saw the lion’s share of action. Moses Gray punched in a six yard touchdown with 3:39 left in the game. Evan Vandall added the conversion run.

The Cavaliers moved to 3-1 on the season heading into their open week. With the win, Toby Harris earned his 100th career victory. Harris has 87 wins at Greenbrier West and had 13 at Oak Hill between 2005-07. The 50 first-half points broke the school record of 49 set by the Cavaliers on 10/22/2010 versus Midland Trail. Greenbrier West’s JV team will also be open on Monday due to the Covid-19 precautions in Mercer County. The next JV contest is Monday, September 27 at Midland Trail.

Last, I’d like to express condolences from Greenbrier West to the family of James Monroe’s Ben Thornton. Thornton was a respected competitor who had some memorable performances against the Cavaliers. In his senior season, Thornton had 189 yards and two third quarter touchdowns to go along with two receptions for 40 yards. In his junior season, Thornton rushed for 132 yards and a pair of touchdowns. As a sophmore, Thornton had a receiving touchdown against the Cavaliers. He was a force to be reckoned with, and his presence will be missed in Lindside.

Webster County 6 0 0 0 – 6

Greenbrier West 26 24 0 8 – 58

11:18 1st Ty Nickell 1yd TD (Jacob Nutter PAT)

6:37 1st Cole Vandall 26yd TD (Kick failed)

6:24 1st Conner Bell 90yd KO TD (Kick failed)

5:13 1st Ty Nickell 60 yd TD (Nutter PAT)

3:21 1st Chase McClung 62yd pass from Vandall (Kick failed)

11:56 2nd Colby Winnings 3yd pass from Vandall (Kick failed)

7:05 2nd Cole Vandall 20yd run (Kick failed)

2:48 2nd Chase Franklin 1yd TD (Kick failed)

0:16 2nd Jayden Robinson 2yd TD (Kick failed)

3:39 4th Mose Gray 6yd TD (Evan Vandall run)

Passing (GW) Cole Vandall 5-8, 88 – 2 – 0. Tucker Lilly 0-1, 0 (WC) Peyton McCourt 0-9, 0 – 0 –2

Rushing (GW) Ty Nickell 8-143 2TD, Cole Vandall 3-49 2TD, Jayden Robinson 6-31 1TD, Tucker Lilly 8-32, Brandon Poticher 6-39, Moses Gray 4-21 TD, Marcus Adkins 3-11, Evan Vandall 1-2, Chase Franklin 1-1 TD

(WC) Peyton McCourt 11-10, Rayden Triplett 4-15, Codi Williamson 5-31, Isaac Cutlip 3-9, Conner Bell 10-24, Darren Barnette 1-1, Isaac Snyder 6-40, Carl Mustoe 1-5

Receiving (GW) Chase McClung 1-61 TD, Colby Winnings 1-3 TD, Jayden Robinson 1-10, Trent Parker 1-15, Tucker Lilly 1- (-2)

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