Grassfield slogs to a 17-14 win over Western Branch

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by Andy Hilton, recruit757

Grassfield LB Nick Berning (Photo: Andy Hilton/recruit757)

Grassfield LB Nick Berning (Photo: Andy Hilton/recruit757)

It was a sloppy Thursday night for football. Officials suspect that Friday will be worse, so the game was moved in order to stay on schedule.

Neither team had the advantage going in. The conditions were more suited for running the ball, and turnovers were certainly going to be an issue. It’s only fitting then that a field goal would decide it.

Not only was the field soaked, but the officials were almost an hour late for the game. A 6 p.m. start was moved to 6:45 and the scoreboard was out. Time was kept on the field by the officials. Even the pre-recorded national anthem stuttered, faltered, and couldn’t finish.

The Grassfield Grizzlies finished.

The Grizz started the scoring in the first quarter when a Fred Benham interception of an errant Jacob Wilson pass set Grassfield up in Western Branch territory. Running back Teryl Scott, Jr. raced in from 7 yards out and put Grassfield up 7-0.

Western Branch answered back on their next drive when Brandon Byrd capped it with a 43-yard touchdown run to tie the game at 7.

In the second quarter, Grassfield got the big play on special teams when Racee Lucas fielded a short, bouncing punt and returned the ball 60 yards for a touchdown. Grassfield led 14-7, but that wouldn’t last long.

Western Branch scored on another Byrd touchdown run, this one for seven yards, to knot the game at 14. The Bruins threatened late in the second quarter after a Zavion Hunt interception of a Justice Bigbie pass, but were pushed out of the red zone by penalties and sacks. Grassfield’s defensive front four spent a lot of time in the Bruin backfield. The drive fizzled out and the two teams went into the half tied at 14.

Grassfield managed to grab the lead again on a 34-yard field goal by Cole Gibson. That well placed kick into the wind would be the game winner.

“I’ve never really felt anything like this.   It’s pretty sensational,” said Gibson of his game winner.  ”When I was warming up, I was kicking against the wind.  I was kicking 45s and 50s.   It was feeling good.”

Western Branch would drive, but foil their efforts with penalties, turnovers, or negative yardage plays. They never got close enough to the goal line to be a real threat in the fourth quarter.

“I’m really proud of my guys.  We got the word this morning that they wanted to play the game at six o’clock.  Our kids had to get prepared.   I have to thank my staff, who did a great job preparing the kids this week,” said Grassfield head coach Martin Asprey after the game.  ”(My team) showed me tonight that when we prepare well that they can play.”

The Bruins fall to 2-3 on the season after losses to Cocoa (FL), King’s Fork and now Grassfield.   The Grizzlies have had only one hiccup, last week’s 34-3 loss to Indian River.

“(The win) is a huge confidence boost.   We had to learn a lot from the Indian River loss.  I told the staff that we have go back and look at what we did in the first three games.  I took the blame (for the loss).   We made mistakes that were uncharacteristic against Indian River and they capitalized on it.   We fumbled the ball three times in our red zone.  When you play good teams, you gotta score.  We focused on the little things this week.”

“Our guys found a way to win tonight.  Patrick Jones, Grant Holloway, Nick Berning, Seth Harrell… they have to play.  I credit the kids for playing hard.  We have to get ready to play Great Bridge next week.   That’s a rivalry game.  We have some good teams coming down the road.  We’re half way,” said the coach.

FINAL: GRASSFIELD 17, WESTERN BRANCH 14

- Andy Hilton

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