Gibbs broke a close game wide open with three fourth-quarter touchdowns Friday night on its way to a 31-6 victory over Morristown East in a game that was delayed for over an hour by lightning as the Hurricanes celebrated Homecoming.
Tapanga Asbury was crowned Homecoming Queen in pregame ceremonies.
The Eagles squared their record at 2-2 by grinding out 354 yards rushing while holding the Hurricanes to their lowest offensive output of the season at 133 yards.
East, still winless after four games, led 6-3 at halftime and took the second-half kickoff and drove all the way to a fourth-and-goal at the Eagles’ 3 when a fumbled snap resulted in a turnover on downs.
The visitors took over at their eight and four plays later Mikey Robinson took a handoff on an inside reverse and scooted 67 yards to put the Eagles in front, and East could never recover.
Robinson led Gibbs with 116 yards on just seven carries and also scored on a 31-yard run. Quarterback Troy Davis ran 16 times for 105 yards and the other two touchdowns.
Big fullback Ethan Humphries carried 21 times for 80 yards for the Eagles while J.A. Pittman kicked a 28-yard field goal that opened the scoring and four extra points.
The offense was one-dimensional for the Eagles as their quarterback completed only 1-of-6 passes for minus-2 yards. Gibbs did complete a 34-yard pass out of a trick formation in a punting situation and finished with 386 total yards.
East managed only 63 yards on 21 rushing attempts and finished 12-of-20 in the air for 70. Quarterback Cole Henson was 11-of-19 for 66 yards including an 18-yard TD to Shaffer Harville for the only Hurricane points.
First-year East coach Caleb Slover said, “I really don’t have much I can say. I thought our defense played their guts out for three quarters.
“It broke us when we got the ball down here and couldn’t score,” he said. “We could have gone up at least 12-3 and it could have been a completely different ball game.”
Slover added, “We struggled as bad as we could on offense. We put so much on our defense by not moving the ball that we wore them out early. We couldn’t move the chains and just put too much on them early on.
“I thought our defense stepped up and did a good job until the fourth quarter. But we have to find a way to score points. That’s on me and I’ll take the blame for it. I didn’t call a very good game. I’ll re-evaluate what I’m doing there and see if we can’t fix it next week.”
The game started in hot humid conditions with Gibbs taking the opening kickoff and driving to Pittman’s field goal. Rain began to fall early in the drive and got harder as it progressed.
Gibbs converted a third down and two fourth downs in the push before he knocked through the 3-pointer with 3:58 on the clock.
East ran one play after the kickoff and then a streak of lightning lit up the sky resulting in the teams being sent to their dressing rooms at 7:44 p.m. Lighting continued long enough that it was 8:45 when the teams came back on the field and 8:55 when play resumed.
The ‘Canes wound up having to punt two plays later, but punter Esten Devault was roughed on the kick and it gave East a first down at the Gibbs 28. Ethan Ledford gained nine yards on three rushes and Henson got a first down with a quarterback sneak.
On the next play, Henson fired a short pass to Harville who split two defenders and raced into the end zone. The snap wound up getting loose on the extra point try and no kick was attempted leaving the Hurricanes in front 6-3 with 11:42 left in the half.
After the kickoff, Humphries ran for an apparent touchdown of 22 yards but it was wiped out by an illegal block and the Eagles wound up turning the ball over on downs at the East 31.
That was the only chance either team had to score the remainder of the half.
Gibbs kicked short on the second-half kickoff and East started the Eagles’ 49. Henson passed to Harville for gains of nine and four on the first two plays and Ledford had a 12-yard run.
A holding penalty pushed the ‘Canes back into a third-and-13 at the 22, but Henson connected with Evan Seals for a first down at the 5. Three plays gained two yards before the fateful fourth-down bobble.
The Eagles got a quick first down before Davis got loose for 15 yards. On the next play, Robinson took the handoff on the misdirection play and scored. Pittman made it 10-6 with 4:13 left in the third.
East fumbled the kickoff at its 40 but two plays later C.J. Livesay came up with a fumble recovery for East at the 32.
After East punted, the visitors went 51 yards in nine plays to increase their lead. Davis had the big gainer as he faked to the fullback on fourth down, pulled the ball out and kept around the right side for a 16-yard gain. He also had a 13-yard run before scoring from the 1 to cap the march.
Pittman kicked the PAT and the Eagles led 17-6 with 9:18 left in the game.
East went for it on fourth down from its 36 following the kickoff and a pass was incomplete. Gibbs took over and scored in three plays when Robinson took a pitch around the left side for his 31-yard TD. Pittman made it 24-6 with 6:27 remaining.
The Hurricanes fumbled the ball away again at its 20 with Bryson Shown getting the recovery. Three plays later, Davis scored from the 9 and Pittman’s kick closed the scoring with 3:43 on the clock.
East had hits biggest offensive play of the night after the kickoff when Ledford ripped off a 25-yard gain to the Gibbs 32. However, the ‘Canes turned it over on downs at the 27 four plays later.
Eagles 31, Hurricanes 6
Gibbs 3 0 7 21— 31
Morristown East 0 6 0 0— 6
G - J.A. Pittman 28-FG
ME - Shaffer Harville 18-pass from Cole Henson (conversion failed)
G - Mikey Robinson 67-run (Pittman kick)
G - Troy Davis 1-run (Pittman kick)
G - Robinson 31-run (Pittman kick)
G - Davis 9-run (Pittman kick)
First Down 15 7
Rushes-yards 52-354 21-63
Passing 32 70
Att-Comp-Int 7-2-0 20-12-0
Total Offense 386 133
Punts 2-43 3-18
Fumbles-Lost 4-1 3-2
Penalties-Yards 10-112 3-39