SCOTT R. FISHER
KINGSPORT - As a team progresses deeper into the playoffs, the opposition normally gets tougher. As a result, the team must step up in order to win.
On Friday night, the West Greene Buffalo football team was unable to raise its game. The team ran into a determined Sullivan North squad and were soundly defeated 35-7 in the second round of the Class 3A playoffs.
"We did not play well," West Greene head coach Joe Case said. "I don't know if we were spent from trying to make the playoffs. We were not ready to play. That was my fault."
The Golden Raiders (11-1) came storming out of the gate and tried to bury the Buffs in the opening quarter. And they were successful at accomplishing that goal.
Sullivan North scored on its first four possessions and forced two turnovers on West Greene's opening two drives.
The Raiders drove 59 yards in six plays to take the early 7-0 lead. Jacob Jasper did most of the damage and capped it off with a eight-yard scoring run with 8:43 remaining in the first quarter. Jasper also had a 25-yard burst earlier in the drive.
The Buffaloes quickly turned the ball over when sophomore Austin Greenlee's third-down pass was intercepted.
Sullivan North cashed in the turnover four plays later when Cory Rowe found John Kilgore with an 11-yard scoring toss.
West Greene could not move the ball on its second possession either. The Buffs fumbled the ball away on second down.
The Golden Raiders increased their lead to 21-0 after a 41-yard, five-play drive. Kiree Thompson ran for the five-yard touchdown.
Sullivan North attempted its second onside kick of the contest and was able to recover the loose ball deep inside the Buffs' zone. The Raiders once again took advantage of the miscue.
The lead expanded to 28-0 when Jacoby Thompson broke loose around the left end and raced for an 18-yard scoring run. The drive consisted of five plays and lasted for less than two minutes.
According to Case, West Greene did not play a physical first quarter. He believed his team was not blocking or tackling as well as they had during the drive to the playoffs.
"(Sullivan North) is a physical team," Case said. "That is what we have to do to win football games."
Case said the team played more physical as the game wore on, but it was not enough to overcome the disasterous start."
Besides the scoreboard, the stats told the story of the first half. The Golden Raiders rolled up 299 yards of offense and scored four times. West Greene managed 84 yards and turned the ball over twice.
In the second half, the game was more even. Neither team put up huge numbers offensively. Sullivan North managed 110 yards compared to 95 for the visiting Buffs.
West Greene finally put points on the scoreboard at the end of their second drive of the second half. The Buffs drove 66 yards in seven plays.
The big play was a 24-yard touchdown pass from Greenlee to Thomas Palmer. The drive was aided by a 15-yard personal foul penalty against the Golden Raiders.
Unfortunately for the Buffaloes, another fumble resulted in the final score of the contest. It only took three plays before Kiree Thompson to find the end zone on a 14-yard run.
The West Greene offense was led by sophomore Jonathan Padgett with 85 yards. Freshman Dakota Trentham contributed 58 yards on the ground.
On defense, senior Alex Gregory led the way with multiple tackles and a fumble recovery. Sophomore James Marshall also recovered a fumble.
Despite the loss, Case was upbeat about the successful season for his football team. West Greene won its' first-ever playoff game.
"We had a good season," Case said. "I am proud of the kids."