POINT PLEASANT, W.Va. — The biggest difference came down to turnovers … and it made a big difference.
The Point Pleasant football team committed turnovers on both of its fourth quarter drives and visiting Greenbrier East scored 13 unanswered points down that same stretch Friday night en route to a 32-22 victory in the 2021 season opener for both programs at Ohio Valley Bank Track and Field.
The host Big Blacks (0-1) finished the night with more total yards of offense and held leads in each of the first three quarters — including a 22-19 edge entering the finale — but the Spartans (1-0) strung together a 7-play, 40-yard drive that resulted in a permanent lead when Garrett Bennett plunged in from four yards out with 11:38 remaining in regulation for a 25-22 edge.
Two plays into Point’s ensuing drive, Jake Pate recovered a fumble for GEHS at the PPHS 30 with 10:53 showing in the fourth. The Spartans needed only two plays to cover the distance as Monquell Davis found Bryson Ormsbee unguarded with an 18-yard touchdown pass, making it a 32-22 contest with 10:13 left.
Point Pleasant countered with a 9-play drive that pushed the ball down to the GEHS 17, but Bennett came up with a fumble recovery on the next snap — allowing the Green and Gold to take over possession at their own 17 with 5:59 remaining. Greenbrier East ran nine consecutive running plays through Ian Cline and picked up four first downs before ultimately draining the clock down to triples zeroes.
Point Pleasant outgained the guests by a 303-299 overall margin, with PPHS claiming a 293-163 advantage on the ground. Greenbrier East won the aerial contest by a 136-10 count and also had a 14-13 edge in first downs, as well as finishing plus-3 in turnover differential.
“You could tell tonight that we are a young football team. Young guys are going to make some mistakes, but this is something that we are going to have to overcome real quick if we want to have better outcomes,” PPHS coach David Darst said afterwards. “There were some things we can build on and some things we need to improve on, but I thought we played a pretty competitive game against a pretty good opponent in Greenbrier East. They made the plays and didn’t turn the ball over. That was the difference tonight.”
The Big Blacks fumbled the ball away on the first play of their opening drive, but ultimately took a 7-0 lead on a 2-yard touchdown run by Evan Roach at the 1:36 mark of the first quarter.
Greenbrier East needed only two plays to cover 50 yards and tie the game at 7-all as Cline hauled in a 48-yard scoring pass from Davis with 45 seconds left in the opening canto.
The Spartans took their first lead of the night on an 18-yard scoring run by Davis at the 3:55 mark of the second period, but a missed extra point made it only a 13-7 edge.
Roach capped a 10-play, 74-yard drive with a 1-yard run with 36 seconds left in the half, and Elicia Wood added the second of two successful PAT kicks for a 14-13 PPHS cushion.
Cline, however, hauled in a 40-yard pass from Davis and strolled into the end zone as the first half expired, giving the guests a 19-14 lead entering the break.
Roach scored his third rushing touchdown — this time also from a yard out — with 2:26 remaining in the third stanza. Cody Schultz hauled in a successful 2-point conversion pass from Roach and the hosts owned a 22-19 advantage.
Gavin Jeffers paced PPHS with 193 rushing yards on 14 carries, while Roach added 57 yards on 22 attempts and also went 2-of-3 passing for 10 yards. Jeffers had one catch for seven yards and Pearson hauled in one pass for three yards.
Cline had 98 rushing yards on 25 carries to lead Greenbrier East, while Davis churned out 45 yards on six attempts and also completed 8-of-11 passes for 136 yards. Cline led the GEHS wideouts with two catches for 88 yards.
Point Pleasant — which has now dropped four of its last five season openers in football — returns to action Friday when it hosts Gallia Academy at 7 p.m.
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Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.