BY SCOTT R. FISHER
MOSHEIM - Every coach preaches to his team that they must play the entire game. Winning teams take that to heart and show up at the start and play till the last whistle.
West Greene (1-2, 0-1 BRAC) did not come out of the gate strong Friday night and could not recover. The Buffaloes dropped a hard-fought game to Grainger 21-14.
It was the home opener and first game in Blue Ridge Athletic Conference play for the Buffs. Their next game is home next Friday against cross-county rival North Greene.
"We have to lot to work on," said WGHS head coach Joe Case. "We have to come out and play from the get go."
The Grizzlies were ready for conference play from the start. Grainger received the ball first and was able to start with a scoring drive right away.
The Grizzlies drove down the field in 10 plays that covered 76 yards and took 4 minutes and 30 seconds off the clock. Grainger pounded the football straight ahead and picked up big chucks of yards on most carries.
"That is the third game we have given up a score on the first drive of the game," Case said.
Noah Bunch ran the ball in from nine yards out for the first score of the game.
West Greene's offense struggled the entire first half and could not gain any momentum. The team managed only 45 yards of offense in the opening half.
The Grizzlies were able to move the ball most of the first half, but did not score their second touchdown until their final drive before the intermission.
Grainger took advantage of a turnover by the Buffs. Nine plays and 51 yards after the interception, the Grizzlies found the end zone again.
It was Bunch again on the touchdown. This one covered four yards. The touchdown came with just 14.1 seconds left in the second quarter.
"That was a tough score to give up," Case said.
After the halftime intermission, it was a whole new ball game as the West Greene offense got going.
The Buffs scored twice in the second half and started making the big plays that kept the game within reach.
West Greene gained 179 yards in the second half alone, and the defense held the Grizzlies to one score.
The first scoring drive of the night for the Buffs began at the end of the third quarter and was capped off in the fourth. Jonathan Padgett ran the ball in from one yard out.
The drive covered 54 yards and required seven plays. The big play of the drive was a 29-yard pass from Austin Greenlee to Lance Kibort on the final play of the third quarter.
Two possessions later the Grizzlies added their final touchdown of the evening. Brandon Davis plowed into the endzone from two yards out with 2:35 remaining.
The Buffs did not quit, though.
West Greene drove 70 yards in 5 plays. The scoring play was a 54-yard strike from Greenlee to Dylan Kirk. Kirk caught the ball in the open field and was able to avoid several Grainger defenders before making it into the endzone.
The scoring play came with 1:19 left in the contest.
The Grizzlies were able to recover the onside attempt by the Buffs and ran out the clock.
"I am proud of the kids in the second half," Case said. "We played hard and did not quit. We have to play the whole game."
A key to the game was the ability of Grainger to convert on third or fourth down. The West Greene defense had trouble getting the big stops.
"Third and fourth down killed us," Case said.
The final yardage totals for the two teams were 353 for the Grizzlies and 225 for the Buffs,
The bigger Grizzlies gained 312 yards rushing the ball. Bunch rushed for 154 yards.
Leading the ground attack for West Greene was Padgett with 69 yards. Nathan Morgan added 47 yards. Greenelee threw for 112 yards and a score.