SPORTS>>Badgers grind out workmanlike win
Leader sports editor
GREENBRIER — The Beebe Badgers ran the ball 62 times on Friday night and only six of them went for more than 10 yards.
And that was just fine with head coach John Shannon.
The shorter the gains, the longer you get to hold on to the football. Which is exactly what the Badgers did in beating a game Greenbrier team, 28-14, in the season opener for both teams.
Beebe held the ball for nearly 34 of the game’s 48 minutes, including embarking on a 20-play, 97-yard touchdown drive that ate up nearly 10 minutes.
“That’s what we want to do is pound, pound, pound on people,” Shannon said. “They had so many people in the box. We could have spread them out a little more, but anytime you can get four or five yards a carry and they got 10 men in the box, that starts to wear on people.”
Senior fullback Sammy Williams was the very epito me of the workhorse on Friday, totingzthe ball 28 times. With Greenbrier loading up to try to stop Beebe’s Dead T offense, the holes were few, but Williams carried tacklers for 123 yards, as the Badgers piled up 309 on the ground.
Beebe quarterback Roger Glaude threw only twice, completing them both — the second one for a 55-yard touchdown strike to Brandon Purcell, who found himself wide open after a play fake with two minutes left in the third quarter. That score made it 28-7 and took most of the rest of what little doubt remained.
“Beebe does a good job of running that dang football,” said Greenbrier head coach Randy Tribble, in his first year at the Panther helm after a long career as Harding University head coach. “They don’t do much passing, it’s just smash, smash, smash. But they’re going to throw it once in a while and you’ve got to be ready and reading your keys.
“We hadn’t seen that on film. That was good coaching on their part.”
Beebe forced a three-and-out on Greenbrier’s opening possession, then set the tone for the night by running the ball 10 straight times to paydirt. Victor Howell busted a tackle near the line of scrimmage, then swept around the left end for an eight-yard touchdown and a 7-0 lead.
Greenbrier hit right back, getting 43-yard pass play from Jordan Duvall to Hunter Winston to set up Jason Hall’s seven-yard touchdown run that tied it at the 5:14 mark of the first period.
Three minutes later, Beebe reclaimed the lead for good when Luke Gardner picked a Duvall pass at the Greenbrier 45 and raced untouched for the score and a 14-7 lead.
After stopping the Panthers on their next possession, the Badgers decided just to play keepaway. They took over at their own 3 with 19 seconds left in the first quarter, then ran the ball 20 straight times and eating up 9:52 off the clock. Williams capped it with a one-yard run to make it 21-7 with 2:27 left in the half.
Time of possession in the first half went heavily for the Badgers, who held the ball for nearly 18 minutes.
Greenbrier, running out of the Spread with a bevy of young, but talented players, ran just 45 offensive plays and totaled 186 yards. Beebe ran 64 plays and totaled 396 yards and 20 first downs.
“Defensively, I thought for the most part we did a pretty good job,” Shannon said. “We had a couple of breakdowns in the secondary. But they’re tough to defend on every single snap.”
In addition to Williams’ 123 yards, Purcell slashed his way to 55 yards on just six carries, while Glaude added 53 on seven.
Gardner had eight carries for 37 and Howell seven for 21.
“Glaude read the option well and ran it well,” Shannon said. “He played a pretty good game and did exactly what we want our quarterback to do. Purcell I’ve said all along is our best overall athlete and we can do a few more things with him.”
Beebe will face a tough test next Friday when Class 4A title contender Lonoke comes to town.