Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local Sports

August 22, 2013

Beneficial to the G-Men

Graham gets final tune-up before facing the Beavers

BLUEFIELD — The Graham G-Men hosted the Virginia High Bearcats in a Virginia High School League benefit game. It was the G-Men’s final tune-up prior to next week’s Graham-Beaver game and the contest proved to be one in which special teams provided a lot of the fireworks and the Bearcats left town with a 16-9 win.

“To me a scrimmage is an opportunity to get a practice against another team,” said Graham head coach Mike Williams. “We got a practice in tonight against Virginia High that’s a very good football team, a playoff team a year ago.

“Offensively we’ve got to clean some things up so we can be a little more consistent and we’ll do that. We’ll learn from the film. Defensively it was good for us to get a little taste of the no-huddle offense because obviously that’s something our kids don’t see that much in practice.”

After a scoreless first period Virginia drew first blood when Gray Mumpower connected on a 28 yard field goal with 3:18 remaining in the half. Mumpower’s ensuing kickoff went into the endzone and Graham then took the ball at its 20 and drove to the Bearcats’ 32, before Colby Hill was sacked at the 42 and the G-Men forced to punt. Samuel Stowers’ kick pinned Virginia deep in its own territory and on the first play from the six, the shotgun snap was booted into the endzone and squirmed across the end line for a safety, bringing the G-Men to within a point at 3-2 with 13 ticks left on the first half clock.

Kicking off from his own 20, Mumpower booted the ball down field where it was bobbled by Charlie Benfield at his own 18, then Benfield raced untouched down the sidelines 82 yards for the game’s first touchdown. Stowers booted the PAT and Graham was up 9-3 with one second showing on the clock.

Stowers squibbed the kickoff and Bearcat players let the ball roll until it was picked up by Justin Brown at his own nine. Brown raced ahead, cut to his left and then down the far sideline. He was nearly tackled inside the five, but pulled away from the G-Men defender for the touchdown of 91 yards. Mumpower kicked the extra point and Virginia High carried a 13-9 lead into the half. In a span of 13 seconds the teams had scored 16 points.

Virginia High head coach Michael Crist said, “I’ve been in this thing long enough to know anytime you kick off after a safety, there’s a lot of fear there because that’s a lot of ground to cover. It’s one of those things when a returner bobbles a kick it creates timing and lanes. But I give our kids credit, we really didn’t lose our poise there and then we came right back with it. Justin Brown is a potent weapon, a great running back and a tremendous returner.”

The Bearcats took the opening kickoff at their 20 after Stowers’ kick sailed into the endzone. They proceeded to drive the ball down the field on the arm of Ivan Moore and the legs of Brown. The 10-play drive was capped when Mumpower kicked his second field goal of the night, this one from 28 yards.

Graham then had its best drive of the night, using 13 plays and driving from its own 20 to the Virginia High 24, before the drive stalled and the G-Men turned the ball over on downs.

The G-Men got the ball back and Charlie Benfield ripped off a 17-yard run on the final play of the third quarter. Graham took the ball down to the Virginia High 21 where Stowers came on to attempt a 38-yard field goal, but the snap was wild and Stowers covered the ball on the 38, where the Bearcats took over.

Virginia High’s final points of the night came on Mumpower’s third field goal of the night, from 38 yards out to give the visitors a 16-9 lead.

Graham’s defense came to the fore with just over three-and-a-half minutes left when Benfield picked off a Moore pass at the G-Men 20 and returned it 51 yards to the Virginia 29. Dylan Cook carried to the 14 and then four more yards to the 10 with under two minutes left. Kyshon Lee took it down to the five. A sack pushed the G-Men back to the 13 with just over a minute to play, and with under 60 seconds left on the clock, Hill’s pass in the endzone was incomplete.

Virginia High took the ball and ran out the clock.

Unofficially Hill completed 12-of-22 passes for Graham for 131 yards and no interceptions. Moore was 17-of-27 for 182 yards with one interception.

Bryce Farris hauled in six of Hill’s passes for 49 yards and Mark Large had two catches for 39.

Derrick Lee caught 12 passes for 95 yards to lead the Bearcats.

The G-Men ran for 82 yards on the ground, led by Cook with 92. Virginia High rushed for 133, led by Brown with 130.

All of Mumpower’s kickoffs, with the exception of the one returned for a score by Benfield, which came from the 20 yard line, went into the endzone for touchbacks. Stowers had one kickoff that was a touchback.

The G-Men open the regular season next Friday in the Battle of the Bluefields against the Bluefield Beavers.

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