West Greene holds off Cumberland Gap, 34-32
by Anthony Cloud Staff Writer
HARROGATE, Tenn. — A late game surge wasn’t enough for Cumberland Gap as they fell to West Greene of Friday by a score of 34-32.
“We made too many mistakes,” said Cumberland Gap head coach Corey Russell. “We made too many plays for them and not enough plays for us.”
The Panthers were in position for a game winning drive when a series of unfortunate events took place. On Cumberland Gap’s final drive of the game, a fumbled snap left the Panthers in a second-and-22 situation on their own 39-yard-line.
A 7-yard run by quarterback Dakota Brock put Cumberland Gap in third-and-14. On the next play, an interception by Nathan Morgan sealed the game for the Panthers.
“The only way I know how to fix it is to get back to practice on Monday and go to work,” said Russell. “You can’t hang your head.”
The rushing game helped the Panthers stay on the heels of the Buffaloes. The team rushed for 313 yards on 46 attempts.
“The offensive line is the strength of our offense,” said Russell. “We’ve got two running backs that run the ball well, a quarterback that runs the ball well.”
Brock led the team in rushing with 145 yards on 17 attempts for three touchdowns. Brandon Bailey rushed for 110 yards on 18 attempts with one touchdown, and Jeremiah Lorens piled up 88 yards on 11 carries for one touchdown.
Brock also completed four passes on 11 attempts. Jonathan Lorens led the team in receptions with two catches for 30 yards.
The Buffaloes’ rushing game stifled the Panther defense at times. West Greene combined for 248 yards rushing on 42 attempts.
“We knew they were going to (run the ball),” said Russell. “They got out there and used their speed. They played a good game.”
Cumberland Gap first when Bailey broke free on a 14-yard run with 5:58 remaining in the first quarter. After Devon Helton’s kick, the Panthers led by a score of 7-0.
On the ensuing drive, it took five plays for the Buffaloes to answer. After a 27-yard run by Nathan Morgan, Jonathan Padgett juked his way 43-yards for a touchdown with 4:06 remaining in the opening quarter to tie the game (7-7).
After forcing the Panthers to a three-and-out, West Greene’s Austin Greenlee would find Devin Davis on a 56-yard bootleg pass for a touchdown with only seconds remaining in the first quarter. The touchdown put the Buffaloes up 14-7.
West Greene would find success on their first drive of the second quarter. The Buffaloes were able to drive the ball down the field behind the legs of Morgan and Padgett. Padgett would catch a Greenlee pass with 7:58 remaining in the second quarter to increase the Buffalo lead to 21-7.
Cumberland Gap answered on their next possession. The Panthers drove the ball down to the West Greene 2-yard-line in six plays. On the seventh play of the drive, Brock punched the ball into the end zone with 5:07 left in the half. The extra point brought the score to 21-14 in favor of the Buffaloes.
A West Greene punt on their next possession left the Panthers inside their own 1-yard-line. After going four-and-out, Cumberland Gap was forced to put. A personal foul against the Panthers left West Greene inside the Cumberland Gap 11-yard-line.
On the first play of the drive, Morgan found a lane and ran 11 yards into the end zone, bringing the score to 28-14.
Cumberland Gap would find a way to score on their next possession. After a circus catch by Jeremiah Lorens, the Panthers found themselves inside the Buffaloes’ 2-yard-line. Brock would punch the ball into the end zone two plays later. The extra point was blocked and the Panthers trailed at the half 28-20.
Cumberland Gap scored on their first possession of the second half. The Panthers capped a nine-play drive with a 3-yard touchdown plunge by Jeremiah Lorens with 5:41 remaining in the third quarter. A missed two point conversion left the Panthers down 28-26.
In the fourth quarter the Panthers took their second lead of the game. A 22-yard run by Jeremiah Lorens helped set up a 3-yard quarterback sneak by Brock for a touchdown. After a missed two-point conversion, Cumberland Gap’s lead was 32-28.
Padgett put West Greene on his back during the game-winning drive. He ran the ball 11 times on a drive that started at the West 20-yard-line and finsihed it with a 4-yard scamper into the end zone. The Buffs went for two and were stopped, but came up with that late interception to hang on for the 34-32 win.
Cumberland Gap (2-3, 0-2 in district play) will host Gatlinburg-Pittman, the fourth-ranked team in Class 3A, next Friday.
“They’re a very physical and tough team,” Russell said of the Highlanders. “They are going to come into town ready to win the football game and we have to have the right mind set too.”
West Greene (3-2, 1-1) will travel to South Greene on Friday.
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