Saturday, September 07, 2013

SPORTS STORY >> Offenses soar, Beebe falls

Leader sportswriter

Defensive play was essentially nonexistent as Greenbrier defeated Beebe in a wild 61-38 shootout at Bro Erwin Stadium on Friday.

Both teams combined for over 1,100 yards of offense, as Panthers junior quarterback Will Drewry and Beebe sophomore running back Trip Smith made impressive debuts as varsity starters. Drewry completed 20 of 23 pass attempts for 434 yards and six touchdowns, while Smith took advantage of his team’s domination at the line with 30 carries for 269 yards and four touchdowns.

Turnovers and field position ultimately gave Greenbrier the upper hand, as back-to-back Beebe fumbles late in the second quarter led to a pair of quick scores for the Panthers, who secured a 42-26 lead at the half.

“We knew we might struggle stopping them a little bit,” Greenbrier coach Randy Tribble said. “Hey, we’re just happy to get out of here alive tonight. We’re 1-0, and we’ve got some good film to get better from, and my hat goes off to coach Shannon and them. They did a good job keeping that offense going.”

The Badgers gave up two quick scores to start the first quarter, as Drewry showed off his arm strength and precision with a 38-yard touchdown pass to Kevin Reynolds at the 10:43 mark, and found Karson Matthews on a shorter 8-yard touchdown completion with 6:42 remaining in the opening period.

Beebe responded after the second score with a big pass play of its own, as junior quarterback Aaron Nunez found Connor Patrom all alone downfield in busted zone coverage for a 53-yard touchdown toss with 4:19 to go in the first.

“We just had way too many mistakes,” Beebe coach John Shannon said. “We had mistakes in the kicking game, mistakes on defense, and turnovers on offense. We knew coming in we were going to have to play a perfect game, and we were far from it.”

Smith ran tough in the first quarter for a number of short gains, but he showed his total potential on the second play of the second quarter when he busted through the line and went 53 yards untouched for a touchdown at the 11:45 mark.

Beebe went for a two-point conversion to make up for a blocked extra point following the first quarter, but the Panthers snuffed it out and stopped Nunez short of the goal line to make it 21-12.

Smith then made things really interesting when he scored from 72 yards on the Badgers’ following drive, and junior kicker Tyler Jones booted the extra point to cut Greenbrier’s lead to 21-19.

“We felt good about Trip coming in all year long,” Shannon said. “He was a special kid in junior high. He’s just got it; he’s going to be a real good one. With him and Nunez in the backfield, and with the offensive line getting more and more seasoned, we feel like we can compete with anyone offensively, but we can turn the ball over, and we turned it over way too much tonight.”

The stats at halftime were larger than many complete games. Beebe amassed 338 yards, led by Smith’s 14 carries for 167 yards and three touchdowns, while Greenbrier had 331 yards, including Drewry’s 13 of 15 pass completions for 273 yards and four touchdowns.

Beebe finished ahead of Greenbrier in total yards for the game by a margin of 558 to 551.

The Panthers did more of the same in the second half as Drewry answered a Beebe scoring drive to start the third quarter with a 35-yard touchdown completion to Garrell Williamson to make it 49-32 with 4:56 left to play in the third.

He also scored one on the ground from 24 yards out with 1:14 remaining in the third to give Greenbrier a 55-38 lead.

“Our quarterback, it’s his first game as a starter,” Tribble said. “It was a pretty good debut, but we’ve got some weapons receiver wise, and we work real hard on it. We depend on it a lot, and I thought it was good tonight.”

Shannon spent the week preaching the importance of not giving up big plays on defense, but Drewry’s accuracy and crop of sure-handed receivers proved too much. Greenbrier failed to score on only three of its possessions, including the final one as time expired.

“We gave it up all night long,” Shannon said of giving up big plays on defense. “We can’t do that. We’re not built to get into a track meet with someone, and that’s what it was tonight. I thought the kids played hard. I’m proud of that, I’m proud of the effort.”

Beebe will play at Lonoke next Friday.