The scene was set for a top-10 showdown on Halloween weekend Friday night, Oct. 29 at Spartan Stadium in Fairlea when the 9th ranked Greenbrier East Spartans hosted the 7th rated Princeton Tigers.
On the sideline, head coach Ray Lee as dressed up as defensive coordinator Aaron Baker as the Spartans got a huge overtime victory 23-17.
Actually, Lee missed the game due to a suspension last weekend and Baker, who coached East from 2009-2011, stepped in and led the Spartans to their biggest win of the season.
“I’m usually in the press box so it’s definitely a different experience being on the field,” Baker said.
“However, I enjoyed feeling the excitement and intensity that our guys played with,” he stated.
When the game started, the rain was falling a little, which affected both offenses early.
East (7-2) was forced to punt on their first possession and the Tigers turned the ball over on downs. Then East could not take advantage on their second series, and Princeton punted for the second time, but it was after that when the Spartans finally showed some life.
On a second-and-29 play, quarterback Monquelle Davis ran for 38 yards. Two plays later, Ian Cline ran for 16 more. Cline then capped the 7-play, 66-yard drive with a 7-yard touchdown run and East took a 7-0 lead late in the first quarter.
After a couple more empty possessions, the Tigers clawed their way to a score midway through the second period when Grant Cochran hit Brodee Rice for a 57-yard touchdown pass. That made the score 7-7.
The Spartans took the ball back late in the half and Cline went for another 16-yard run and Davis followed with a 12-yarder. A long pass to Bryson Ormsbee to the Tigers 10-yard line eventually set up a 27-yard Noah Dotson field goal with just three seconds left, and the Spartans took a 10-7 lead into the break.
The third quarter saw each team get one possession each. Both offenses used ball control and long, sustained drives.
Princeton (5-2) got it first and rode the junior Rice down the field. Rice ran for 70 yards on the 11-play drive that took over six minutes off the clock. The drive was capped with Peyton Clemons catching a 7-yard TD pass from Cochran and the Tigers took a 14-10 lead with just 5:39 left in the third.
The Spartans then answered with a long drive of their own. Cline and Davis churned out some short runs, but we’re able to consistently move the chains.
On the 17th play of the drive, McCallister caught a 25-yard screen pass, and three plays later, Cline put a stamp on the 20-play series with a 16-yard touchdown run. East went back ahead 17-14 with 11:14 remaining in the game.
A couple of possessions later, the Tigers tied the contest when kicker Casey Geso connected on a 34-yard field goal, and it was a brand-new game.
And it headed to bonus football.
East got the ball first from the 20-yard line. On the second play they fumbled, but lineman Seth Fogus jumped on the ball and recovered, and kept it in East’s hands. Davis then got loose and scored on a 9-yard run and put the Spartans up 23-17.
Princeton then got the ball to try to answer the score. On their second play, East linebacker Jarett McHale stuffed Rice for a 1-yard loss, and his next carry he was gang tackled by a group of Spartans for a loss of three more.
On the final play, a fourth-and-9, Cochran dropped back and threw to the end zone, but the ball fell to the turf, incomplete, and the Spartans celebrated their seventh victory of the season.
Davis earned McDonald’s player of the game honors. He threw for 106 yards and ran for 83 more. He scored two touchdowns.
Cline also had two scores on 36 carries and 146 yards.
East gained 342 total yards with 236 of them on the ground. The defense held Cochran to just 147 yards passing.
The Spartans return home this Friday, November 5 for their regular-season finale against the Lincoln County Panthers. A win almost certainly secures a home playoff game for East.
Stats courtesy of 103.1, WRON.