FAIRLEA — The Buckhannon-Upshur football Buccaneers started the game hungry to move above .500 in their meeting with the Greenbrier East Spartans Friday night. The Bucs, however, couldn’t control a strong Spartan offense as they dropped a 56-14 decision to the Spartans in a non-conference battle in Lewisburg at Spartan Stadium.
The Spartans won the coin toss and elected to receive the ball.
Starting at their own 42-yard line, the Spartans covered the field in three plays to jump out to an early lead and went 69 yards in six plays to find the end zone.
The Bucs would not make much progress in their first possession on the field. Bryson Johnston returned the kick for 10 yards, giving the Bucs the ball on their own 32-yard line. The drive was short lived with quarterback Ian Donnen being sacked, ending their drive with negative yards for their first possession. The Spartans made quick work of their second possession, moving the ball from the Bucs 45-yard line to the end zone to score again with 8:35 left in the opening quarter.
The Bucs were more productive on their second possession after taking possession of the ball on their own 29-yard line. Quarterback Donnen completed two passes for a total of 22 yards in this drive; however, the Bucs would be forced to punt again after 12 plays.
It took Greenbrier East just six plays to score again with a drive starting from their own 26-yard line with 11:29 left in the second quarter as the Bucs defense again struggled to contain the Spartans running back Colby Piner.
On their next possession, the Bucs got a spark of energy when Savion Farmer returned a Spartan punt for 71 yards into the Spartan endzone for their first points of the game. Kicker Cameron Zuliani made good on the extra point kick, making the score Bucs 7, Spartans 21 with 11:16 left in the second quarter.
The Bucs could not gain the momentum needed on the defensive side as the Spartans again moved the ball quickly down the field after taking possession of the ball on their own 30-yard line. The Spartans scored again in four plays, highlighted by a 25-yard run by Piner, increasing their lead with 9:15 left in the second half.
The Bucs Sterlin Thropp would return the kick for 25 yards to the Spartans 25-yard line to start the Bucs next drive, alas the tough Spartan defense sent the Bucs offense out in four plays. The Bucs defense stepped up on the next Spartan possession and slowed the Spartans progress down the field. The Spartans were able to find the endzone in eight plays, giving them a 35-7 lead over the bucks.
The Bucs offense again struggled for momentum, going out in four plays on the next drive and the defense could not restrain the Spartan offense, allowing them to score again with 19.4 seconds left in the half.
The Bucs received the ball at the Spartans 35-yard line to start the second half; however, quickly lost it on a turnover fumble to the Spartans who quickly put more points on board in four plays. The Bucs Carter Zuliani made a 15-yard return on the Bucs next possession, but they would fumble again and lose possession after two plays.
The next Spartan drive was slowed by several penalties and the Bucs were able to keep the Spartans out of the endzone. With 9:00 left in the fourth quarter, the Bucs would start one of their longest drives of the night, taking possession of the ball at the 50-yard line. Running back Liam Garcia would take the ball 28-yards into the endzone for the Bucs second touchdown of the night, with Cameron Zuliani making good on the extra point.
After the game, Coach Zach Davis acknowledged the strength of the Greenbrier East team. “We had some mental errors and ball security issues on offense,” observed Coach Davis. He advised, “With the bye week coming up, we fill focus on correcting those issues and move forward. We had a tough time completing tackles and are working on improving those skills.”
The final score was Bucs 14, Spartans 56.
Greenbrier East improved to 3-1 on the season and has a bye next week.
The Bucs dropped to 1-2 on the season and will also have a much-needed bye next week after losing several players to injury in the game.
Greenbrier East 21 20 14 0 – 56
Buckhannon-Upshur 0 7 0 7 – 14
Buckhannon-Upshur – Savion Farmer 71-yard return (Cameron Zuliani kick)
Buckhannon-Upshur – Liam Garcia 28-yard (Cameron Zuliani kick)