A packed house filled Spartan Stadium in Fairlea on Friday, September 10 as the Greenbrier East Spartans held their home football opener against the Robert C. Byrd Eagles.
Unfortunately, after a valiant effort and a show of resiliency, the Spartans came up short and suffered a 31-16 loss to the defending Class AA state runners-up.
The action on the field started early.
RCB (2-0) took the ball first and their star running back, Jeremiah King, who came into the game nine yards short of 5,000 for his career, got to that milestone quickly. King scampered for 52 yards and set up his own 15-yard touchdown run to cap the nine play, 95-yard drive. After the extra point, the Eagles led 7-0 early.
East’s Lucas McCallister returned the ensuing kickoff 34 yards to give the Spartans (2-1) good field position and they capitalized on that fortune.
Bryson Ormsbee had a 6-yard reception to start the series, then quarterback Monquelle Davis ran for 24 yards on a good block from Ian Cline. The very next play, Davis found McCallister in the end zone and the junior hauled it in for a 23-yard touchdown, and East tied the contest up at 7-all with 5:58 left in the opening quarter.
The Spartan defense kept King and the RCB offense in check on the following drive and East got the ball back and went back to work.
Davis found Braden Bragg for 20 yards on the first play then two plays later found Bragg again for 10 more on fourth down. However, the drive stalled, but ended in a Noah Dotson 31-yard field goal and the Spartans took a 10-7 lead with under a minute to go in the first.
And that would be the Spartans first and only lead.
On the subsequent possession’s second play, King took the handoff and zigged and zagged his way to an 81-yard touchdown run and a 14-10 Eagles lead.
East turned the ball over on downs on their next series and the Eagles looked to their star yet again.
On the first play after that turnover, King found a seam and scored on another long run, this one from 78 yards out and the momentum was shifting quickly to the RCB sideline as they led 21-10 midway through the first half.
RCB’s Nathaniel Junkins had an interception on the Spartans next possession and that eventually led to Cam Clark’s 39-yard field goal. After the kick, the Eagles led 24-10.
East appeared to steal some momentum back when Jarett McHale recovered an Eagles fumble, but the Spartan offense stalled out and turned the ball over on downs for the second time on the night.
That is when Eagles quarterback Nic George broke the Spartans spirits when he found Junkins for an 85-yard touchdown strike on third-and-17 as the Eagles took a comfortable 31-10 lead into halftime.
The Eagles played very conservatively in the second half in an effort to run the clock and the strategy worked. Neither team scored in the third, but the Spartans kept playing hard and got a 1-yard touchdown run from Cline late in the fourth quarter for the game’s final points of the night, and the only points of the second half for either team.
The Eagles finished with 451 yards of total offense and were led by King’s 30 carries for 325 yards and three TD’s.
Cline ran for 85 yards on 19 carries to lead the Spartans. Davis had 62 yards rushing as well.
McCallister was named the McDonald’s player of the game.
East will return home this Friday, September 17 to play the Buckhannon-Upshur Buccaneers. The preview for that contest will be here this week.
Stats courtesy of 103.1, WRON.