BY TATE RUSSELL
SUN SPORTS WRITER
West Greene went up to Cumberland Gap undersized and beat up Friday night, but the Buffaloes came out ready to fight and took control when it mattered most to pick up a key 34-32 victory in District 2-AA action.
The home team brought a much bigger front line, but the Buffs controlled the battles of front, which left West Greene head coach glowing after the game.
"I'm so proud of those guys on the line," Case said. "Coach (Clinton) Haun does a great job with them,"
"I'll tell you what, don't count our kids out. We've been beat up this week but we played through the pain and we came away with a win. We can't back down. We have to continue to get better."
At times the physical mismatches were lopsided. For instance, when West Greene guard Baylee Kinser lined up across from Gap defensive tackle Blake Fleeman and gave up at least six inches and 70 lbs to the huge defender. But Kinser not only held his own, he won the battle time and again to help West Greene backs Nathan Morgan and Johnathan Padgett pound their way down the field.
"We were outweighed up front by about 100 lbs in some spots, and I'm so proud of how those guys played and what they do," Case said, "Physically up front, they were big and strong but we out-fought them tonight."
The desire to win was showcased on the Buffs' go-ahead drive late in the fourth quarter. They put a sixth offensive lineman in the game to go with their two tight ends and ran the ball right down the throats of the Panthers.
The drive took 14 plays and covered 80 yards. It was finished off by Padgett who went straight ahead. He never stopped churning his legs and with 2:50 left on the clock, he punched in the score from four yards out.
Padgett finished with 137 yards on the ground and two rushing touchdowns. He also had one receiving touchdown. Nathan Morgan added another 118 yards rushing and one score.
On the ensuing Cumberland Gap drive, the Buffs desperately needed a stop and Logan Cobb leaped over a Cumberland Gap receiver to get just that.
With the Panthers throwing deep on their final drive, Cobb broke on the Dakota Brock pass and went up high for it. He came down with a game-clinching interception for West Greene as their sideline erupted in jubilation.
At the midway point in the first quarter, Padgett picked up West Greene's first touchdown when he took a jet sweep from the slot and cut inside behind a great block from his right guard then sprinted 42 yards for a score.
On the next series, the Buffs struck quickly when quarterback Austin Greenlee found his full back Devin Davis in the flats. Davis turned up field and was sprung on a punishing block from Dylan Kirk for a 56-yard touchdown that gave West Greene a 14-7 lead.
Padgett came up big again, this time as a receiver, when he hauled in a Greenlee delivery on fourth and seven for a 23-yard score.
Nathan Morgan powered his way into the end zone behind a downfield push from his line and put West Greene up 28-14 with 1:28 left in the half.
Brock drove his Panthers down the field in less than a minute and with 20 seconds remaining punched in a two-yard touchdown run.
The Panthers used that momentum in the second half and moved within two points of the Buffs after a Jeremiah Lorens touchdown run. Lucas Pratt intercepted the two-point try and preserved the West Greene lead at 28-26.
The Panthers were not done and a heavy dose of Brandon Bailey put them in the red zone where Brock would run it again, this time to put Cumberland Gap up 32-28 with eight minutes remaining.
That is when West Greene buckled down and showed they truly wanted the game more.
In the first half, free safety Trebor Wison showed off his ball-hawking skills and pulled in two interceptions that were crucial in setting up West Greene scoring drives.