Cavaliers Suffer Setback

Charmco – Greenbrier West dropped their third game of the season Friday night, losing to Midland Trail 33-8. The loss was the worst for the Cavaliers since the 2018 season. Now sitting at 6-3, the path to a Class A playoff berth is as clear as the mud Greenbrier West trudged through in a disappointing setback.

Midland Trail got two first half touchdowns from Cody Harrell on their way to a 12-0 halftime lead. After back-to-back Cavalier possessions gave Midland Trail the ball at the West 40-yard line, Harrell took a handoff on a reverse from the 25-yard line in for the first score. The PAT was mishandled, and the Cavaliers squashed the attempt to run the football in for a conversion. Harrell’s second touchdown of the night came early in the second quarter when Josh Dickerson hit him with a post-pattern from 14 yards out for the two-score lead. Dickerson was mobbed on the conversion try.

The Cavaliers were unable to sway any momentum their way when the ensuing kickoff ricocheted off a Greenbrier West blocker and into the arms of the Patriot kickoff team. With the lead and the ball at the 50-yard line, Midland Trail couldn’t do much either and was unable to generate a first down. Robert Ruffner’s punt pinned the Cavaliers inside their own 10-yard line, and it seemed as if Trail was in complete control. Nickell, however, got Greenbrier West out of trouble in a hurry. Nickell took a handoff around the left end and circled up the sideline. The 41-yard jaunt pushed the ball out to the Cavalier 49-yard line. After three carries churned out another West first down, the drive died when Vandall was unable to connect with Chase McClung who had beaten Cade Ooten at the line of scrimmage.

Midland Trail was able to burn some clock before punting the ball back to the Cavaliers with minimal time left in the half. Greenbrier West found a spark immediately. This time, Vandall hit McClung who had sprinted down the Patriot sideline after again beating his defender at the line of scrimmage. The 38-yard gain positioned the Cavaliers at the Patriot 22. Vandall went to the air again on first down, tossing a high-arching pass to Mcclung in the left corner. Harrell and two other defenders converged on McClung with Harrell pulling down the interception to end the first half threat.

Coming out of the halftime break, the Cavaliers felt like if they could score early, it would be anybody’s ballgame. The defense did their part and forced a three-and-out series. On second down, the Cavaliers got a look they had prepared for sending McClung and Kadin Parker vertically. Both receivers flashed open, but Vandall’s pass found Patriot cornerback Matt Light who was basically in no-man’s land between the two Cavaliers. The interception would set up a deadly blow. Ruffner took matters into his own hands on first down, racing off left tackle and dashing past Kadin Parker who had slipped on the tackle attempt. The 60-yard score was a devastating blow. Talon Shockey added the PAT for a 19-0 lead. Only two times in program history had West ever come back from a 19-point deficit.

Greenbrier West came out of the Patriot score with a sense of urgency. Parker was inserted at quarterback and carried for a two-yard gain. Parker then zipped a throw down the middle to McClung who had slipped through the Patriot defenders. McClung’s catch was good for 37 yards and a first down at the Trail 26-yard line. Vandall took the reins and ran up the middle for five yards, then hit McClung on a slant for a first down. Vandall’s quick out to Parker fell incomplete, followed by another Vandall run up the gut. Parker slotted back in at quarterback and carried over the left side, before back-to-back Nickell runs punched it in the endzone. Parker lobbed a pass to Vandall for the conversion and the Cavaliers had life trailing 19-8 with 7:21 left in the third quarter.

The Patriots, sensing a swing in momentum, set out to extinguish the comeback. Four straight Ruffner runs set the stage for a play-action pass. Dickerson turned and faked the handoff to Ruffner then spun around to find Light fading out to the sideline with Josh Jones hot on his trail. Dickerson’s pass was perfectly placed, settling into Light’s hands as Jones dove at his feet. Light had the angle to the endzone and outraced Parker for a 55-yard touchdown reception. Shockey tacked on the PAT and the Patriots answered the Cavaliers drive, leading 26-8 with 5:06 left in the third quarter.

Parker and Nickell carried the Cavaliers back down the field, this time utilizing the option to advance the football. A promising drive that started at the West 26-yard line had moved Greenbrier West to the Trail 16-yard line after a Parker to McClung pass completion. A personal foul against the Cavaliers stalled the drive, forcing West into a first and 25 from the Trail 29. On third down, Parker tried to hit Vandall on a slant in the endzone. Vandall appeared to have dual possession of the ball, but the interception was awarded to Midland Trail, thwarting the West threat just before the third quarter ended.

Having dodged a Cavalier bullet, the Patriots did their best to wring every second out of the clock that they could. Dickerson mixed runs by Ruffner, Harrell, and Aden Isaacs to churn out first down after first down. Dickerson used every available second on the play clock to further drain the remaining time. Finally, with 3:55 left in the game, Dickerson faked the handoff to Ruffner and rolled to his right, hitting Isaacs for a 2-yard touchdown pass to seal the win. Shockey’s PAT made it 33-8 which held for the final score.

Greenbrier West will likely remain 11th heading into the last week of play. Given many of the results from week ten, the Cavaliers are all but assured a spot in the 2021 Class A playoffs. The biggest thing to decide will be whether Greenbrier West can ascend to eighth place or higher with a win over fifth-rated Mt. View. A loss will most likely land the Cavaliers in the 16th position. Playoff scenarios can change, however, as bubble teams pull out all the stops to win in week eleven.

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