Leader Blues

Saturday, September 05, 2009

SPORTS >> Badgers succumb to Panthers Friday

By RAY BENTON
Special to The Leader

Despite several penalties, including three that erased touchdowns, the Greenbrier Panthers did enough to beat Beebe for the first time in six years Friday night, handing the Badgers a 31-22 loss at Bro Irwin Stadium in Beebe. The Panthers moved the ball almost at will, with drives stalling only when Panther mistakes got in the way. Greenbrier quarterback Neal Burcham got hot early and stayed that way, completing 20 of 30 pass attempts for 296 yards and four touchdowns.

Panther coach Randy Tribble praised his squad, particularly his offensive leader.

“Neal Burcham is the real deal,” Tribble said. “He’s good and he did some things tonight you don’t usually see a sophomore do, but I give credit to every one of those young men. We worked them hard this summer. They took to coaching and came out and did a great job.”

Beebe controlled most of the action in the first half, but the last 1:18 belonged to the Panthers. Greenbrier scored twice in that span to turn a 14-6 deficit into an 18-14 halftime lead.

After a 22-yard strike from Burcham to receiver JoJo Oluoken Beebe fumbled it away on the ensuing possession. The Panthers took over with 28 seconds left in the half, and needed two plays to get into the end zone again. This time it was a 22-yard pass and catch from Burcham to Hardy.

Both teams scored on their opening possessions. Greenbrier went 71 yards in nine plays to take a 6-0 lead. Beebe answered with a 76-yard drive in just six plays. The biggest chunk of the yardage coming on a 64-yard jaunt by quarterback Scott Gowen that set up first down at the 11-yard line. Four plays later on fourth down, Gowen found Colby Taylor in the end zone after fumbling the snap. The two-point conversion was good giving Beebe an 8-6 lead.

A strong defensive stand forced Greenbrier into a three-and-out series, and the Badgers answered with a 40-yard drive to take a 14-6 lead with 9:56 left in the first half. The two teams traded punts on the next two possessions before the Panther scoring blitz ended the half.

Greenbrier picked up where it left off on its first possession of the second half. The Panthers scored on the first play of the drive, but the 58-yard scoring strike from Bucham to Oluoken was called back for holding. So instead of a quick strike, Greenbrier settled for a slow march down the field, taking it 58 yards in 11 plays. The Panthers failed on the fourth straight two-point conversion and led 24-14 with 6:25 left in the third quarter.

Beebe answered with a long drive, but it stalled on downs at the Greenbrier 1-yard line. The defense held, and the Badger offense made it a game again with a 68-yard, one-play drive on a run by halfback Victor Howell. The two-point conversion took two tries, and after a personal foul facemask, Beebe fullback Adam Griffis got in the end zone to make it 24-22 with 10:27 left in the game.

The Badger defense got the ball back again and the offense began to march from their own 25. After six plays picked up 40 yards, the Badgers faced third and one when disaster struck. A fumble on a routine play was covered by the Panthers with 3:50 left in the game.

Greenbrier started at its own 31, but picked up 44 yards on a strong run by Hunter Winston, who broke four tackles before being dragged down from behind by Howell. Two plays later another Panther touchdown was called back, but two plays after that, Bucham found Winston in the flat and he scrambled 29 yards for the final score of the game.

Greenbrier finished with 428 total yards. Winston had 101 yards on 10 carries and caught three passes for 45 yards. Griffis led the Badgers with 99 yards on 14 carries.