Trojans topple Devils
GMorristown West’s Preston Long looks for room to run on a punt return against Greeneville during Friday’s game at Burley Stadium. Long scored a touchdown on a punt return in a 21-14 win.
GREENEVILLE — There’s something about Burley Stadium that brings out the best in the Morristown West football team.
The Trojans rolled into Greeneville Friday night and walked away with a 21-14 victory over the Class 4A powerhouse Greene Devils, handing the home team just their second loss at home in their last 35 home games. The other loss was a 31-28 defeat in 2012 against West.
With the win, the Trojans improve to 2-0 on the year heading into their first Inter Mountain Conference game of the season next week at home against Cherokee (0-2). West also picked up their fifth win in the last six trips inside Burley Stadium, and they now own a 12-6 record all-time at Greeneville.
The loss for the Devils came in their season opener, and they will begin Blue Ridge Athletic Conference play next week with a game against Greene County rival Chuckey-Doak in Afton.
“This group is really growing up,” West coach Lamar Brown said. “It’s starting to show out on the field. I couldn’t be more proud of the effort they gave. We made a bunch of mistakes, but they gave great effort. Nobody will be able to question the effort of this team.
“Both of Greeneville’s home losses since 2012 have come against Morristown West. That’s something our kids take a lot of pride in, going on the road and staying focused in adverse conditions. We know Burley Stadium is not an easy place to go play, and it takes a special football team to go in there and win a game. Tonight, our team played special.”
DeAndre Delaney led the West offense with 142 yards on 26 carries and the game-winning touchdown. Delaney also caught two passes for 20 yards, while Mason Earls caught a 17-yard TD from Aaron Jones.
“DeAndre is a warrior, and he will be the first to tell you that a lot of the credit goes to the offensive line, but 26 carries in that heat is impressive,” Brown said. “He came out twice for cramping but was back in on the next play, and at the end of the game, there was no question who we were going to give the ball to.
“His last run was a great one on his part, but he did a lot of stuff wrong on that run. If you do it wrong, you better go score, and that’s what he did. He had a great stiff-arm on the corner that broke him into the end zone.”
Greeneville outgained the Trojans 323-190 in the contest, with 312 yards coming on the ground for the Devils. Desmond Dabbs led Greeneville with 159 yards on 22 totes and a score, while quarterback Quan Harrison ran 26 times for 153 yards and a touchdown.
Sawyer Bruce recorded 16 tackles for the Trojans in the win, while Calvin Smith added 15 stops and Thad Simerly had 11 tackles.
The first half of the game was a defensive struggle, with neither team getting inside the opponent’s 40-yard line until the very last drive of the half.
After forcing a Greeneville punt late in the half, West had the ball on their own 23 with 1:03 left in the second period. The Trojans began their march to the first score of the game with a 13-yard gain by Delaney on the opening play. Delaney ran for 16 more on the next play, and a face mask penalty at the end of the play put the ball on the Devils 33-yard line.
Jones then completed a 13-yard pass to Delaney, and two plays later, he hit Earls for a 17-yard touchdown pass with 13.8 seconds left in the half. Chase Collins added the extra point for a 7-0 lead, which they took into the halftime break.
When the second half began, it didn’t take long for the special teams to make its presence felt for the Trojans. After the defense forced a three and out, Preston Long fielded a punt and sprinted 48 yards untouched to the end zone. Collins added the point after for a 14-0 lead with 9:35 left in the third.
With momentum squarely on the West sideline, the Devils quickly pulled it back in their favor. On the first play after the punt return for a score, Harrison raced 36 yards for a first down in West territory. Only a Zachary Pell tackle from behind kept Harrison from racing 80 yards for a TD.
After Dabbs went 13 yards on third down, he followed it by rambling 37 yards for a score on fourth down to put the Devils on the board. Ethan Ellis added the extra point to trim the lead to 14-7.
Greeneville tied it on their next possession, driving 86 yards in 10 plays, with Harrison finding paydirt on a 12-yard keeper with 13.5 seconds left in the third quarter. Ellis booted the kick, knotting the score at 14 entering the final 12 minutes.
The Devils appeared to be on their way to taking their first lead of the game early in the fourth, moving the ball to the West 15 before turning it over on downs.
From there, Delaney and the Trojans offensive line took the game over. The junior tailback ran for 38 yards over the next six plays, but West faced a fourth down at the Greeneville 42. Jones completed an 8-yard pass to Dawson Stanton to move the chains, and the Trojans wound up at the Devils 23 after two GHS penalties on Delaney carries.
West eventually had the ball on the Greeneville 12 facing another fourth down, and Brown sent Collins on the field for a 29-yard field goal attempt. Collins easily made the kick, but a personal foul on the play by the Devils wiped the field goal off and gave the Trojans a first down. On the next play, Delaney scored from 7 yards out, stiff-arming a Greeneville defender as he muscled into the end one. Collins added the extra point, making it 21-14 with 1:50 left.
The Devils failed to gain a yard in the final four plays after the kickoff by Collins sailed through the end zone.
-By Matt Daniels, Tribune Sports Editor