The Greenbrier East Spartans hosted a state playoff game this past Friday, November 12 when they played the George Washington Patriots. Fans lined the streets to wave to the team buses from Wal Mart to Fairlea two hours before game time, but even with all the excitement and momentum, East suffered a tough 21-7 loss and ended one of their best seasons in school history.
Some tough luck crept into the storylines as well as East was down three starters—Jacob Wickline, JT Spencer and Garrett Bennett— due to protocols.
So before the game even started, the Spartans had suffered some bad news and it definitely affected their play in the contest.
On their second possession of the game, the Spartans started from their own 1-yard line. They moved the ball well with Ian Cline getting 37 yards of his own on the drive, but they were eventually forced to punt. On the snap, the Patriots went all out for a block, Noah Dotson could not handle it cleanly and GW took over at the Spartan 48-yard line.
Hasten Pinkerton had an 18-yard run on the second play. Four plays later on fourth-and-10, Patriots quarterback Abe Fenwick hit Hayden Hatfield on a 30-yard touchdown pass and GW led 7-0. The momentum seemed to deflate from the stadium after that play.
However, East was able to get some of that momentum back on the George Washington’s next series.
After a 37-yard hookup from Fenwick to freshman Tyshawn Dues, Ethan Holliday, who filled in for Garrett Bennett, sacked Fenwick. Two plays later, Jake Pate picked off a pass in the end zone that was batted around twice before he finally squeezed it for a big-time turnover.
East could not capitalize, but their defense stood tall again. Levi Wagner recorded his state-leading sixth interception after a deflection by fellow teammate Craig Barnhouse.
It looked as if the Patriots (7-3) were going to drive and score before halftime, but a Fenwick fumble and Barnhouse recovery kept that from happening.
After George Washington’s third turnover of the half, the Patriots led just 7-0 at the break.
It was tough sledding for East in the second half.
With 8:20 left in the third quarter, Anthony Valentine caught a long touchdown pass for GW that made the score 14-0.
East did answer a couple possessions later when Pate, the 5-foot-5 inch receiver streaked down the sidelines on a beautiful 83-yard touchdown reception. That score was the Spartans first first-down of the second half and made the score 14-7 midway through the fourth quarter.
But GW sealed the deal when Klayton Matthews broke loose on a 51-yard run and was capped by a 20-yard TD catch from Taran Fitzpatrick. That score made it 21-7 and was the final score of the night.
Spartan senior Bryson Ormsbee caught a nice 29-yard pass over the middle of the field before the clock eventually expired.
East mustered only 207 total yards with 83 of those on the Pate touchdown play. The Patriots defense played well and were bigger and faster than anything the Spartans had seen this year.
GW got 415 yards including 245 on the ground.
Cline finished with 58 yards on 19 carries. Pate was the McDonald’s player of the game.
The Spartans conclude their season at 8-3, their best record since the 1998 season.
East will play in late August of 2022 to open up next year.
Stats courtesy of 103.1, WRON. Special thanks to Jeff Campbell for always providing stats and Allison Baker for the pictures.