Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local Sports

November 2, 2013

G-Men stun Fort Chiswell 19-14

FORT CHISWELL, Va. — For the second time in three years, the Graham G-Men invaded The Fort, and returned home with the upset win.

“We think we match up well with Fort Chiswell,” Graham senior Ethan Stirewalt said. “We just wanted to play our best.”

Defensively, Graham nearly did just that, forcing three turnovers and blocking a punt, as the G-Men knocked off previously unbeaten Fort Chiswell 19-14 in front of a large crowd at The Fort.

Graham did the same in 2011, knocking off the Pioneers 10-7 in another surprise, at least to everyone but the G-Men.

“Our kids are ready, I think they hit a boiling point where they are just sick of hearing people tell them they are going into places like this and get whipped,” Graham head coach Mike Williams said. “I think they are sick of hearing it and it showed tonight.”

Graham (5-4, 3-1) moved into a three-way tie for first place in the Mountain Empire District, and may have done enough to secure a Region 2A playoff berth.

“This is huge, probably the biggest one we have had all year, this is great,” said Graham freshman Ben Meade, whose G-Men will visit Narrows in the regular season finale on Friday. “We have to keep on going, get into the playoffs and keep on winning.”

“This helps,” added Williams. “We should get a lot of points, we will enjoy this one real good and then we are going to have to gear up for Narrows.”

Fort Chiswell (8-1, 3-1), which had won eight games by an average of 29.4 points a game, may have heard the same rumors that the G-Men had no chance against the Pioneers.

“We have been harping all week that Graham is going to come in here ready to play and they were, we just didn’t take care of our end of the deal,” Fort Chiswell head coach Stephen James said. “It is hard to keep 16-and-17-year-olds grounded, but that is on me, that is my responsibility and I didn’t do a good job of getting them ready tonight.

“You have got to give Graham credit, they played well.”

It was 15-year-old Ben Meade who started at quarterback and cornerback for the G-Men, playing turnover-free football, while running and throwing for first downs in a fourth quarter drive that ran out much of the clock.

“The coaches helped me out in getting prepared for this game and kept me calm the whole game,” Meade said. “When I made mistakes they just helped me up.”

Williams added, “I have tried to tell ya’ll he is a warrior, he is a tough kid. He came in here as a ninth grader starting two ways and was part of unseating an 8-0 squad.”

Graham took a 6-0 lead on the second play from scrimmage when Charlie Benfield broke through a hole and dashed 77 yards for a touchdown. Fort Chiswell blocked the conversion attempt, and the defense allowed just two field goals the rest of the way.

“You come out and you give up an 80-yard touchdown right out of the gate,” James said. “I think they had like (four) yards offense and 10 points in the second quarter.

“Defensively, other than that first drive, we played well. You can’t make the mistakes we made and beat a good team, you just can’t.”

Graham got another chance deep in Fort Chiswell territory when the G-Men swarmed punter Patrick Beidleman and blocked the kick. Samuel Stowers was able to make a 24-yard field goal and the G-Men led 9-0 with 6:40 left in the opening quarter.

The Pioneers answered with their only extended drive of the first half, moving 70 yards in nine plays, with Brett Mabry connecting with Levi Mooney for the 15-yard completion for the score. Cody Cook’s extra point kick narrowed the margin to 9-7.

Stowers added a 38-yard field goal on Graham’s next possession to take a 12-7 lead, and then the G-Men got the first of three turnovers, with the G-Men forcing a Mabry fumble and Stirewalt picked it up and ran 15 yards for the score, and the 19-7 lead at the break.

“I just picked it up and ran,” Stirewalt said.

Fort Chiswell came out of the break and leaned on its huge offensive line, led by Coleman Thomas, who has committed to play at the University of Tennessee. After the Pioneers gained just nine rushing yards in the opening half, Dallas Ward broke loose for runs of 17, 11 and 9 yards, and then scored from 1 yard out to narrow the margin to 19-14.

Ward finished with 131 yards, but his fumble at the Graham 1 with just over seven minutes left in the fourth quarter was scooped by Dylan Cook.

“The first half they took it to us, especially defensively, we were getting knocked off the ball,” James said. “I think the second half we came out and established ourselves a little better and then we got a couple of penalties that backed us up and then kind of took away our momentum again.

“Then turnovers again, you get down to the 1 and turn the ball over. You can’t beat anybody that is any good.”

Graham followed that with 12-play drive, with Meade throwing and running for a score, and Cook running through the Pioneers, moving the ball from the 3 to the Fort Chiswell 39 before having to punt. That drive ran off 5:02 of the clock, with the Pioneers taking over at the 30 with 2:01 on the clock.

“I knew going in that Fort Chiswell has one of the better scoring defenses in the area so I knew yards and points would be hard to come by and fortunately the defense played outstanding and they were able to get a score and keep them to 14 so that is really what won it for us,” Williams said. “Then the offense at the end of the game chewing those minutes off the clock.”

Mabry completed a couple of passes to move the ball to the Graham 41, but Benfield picked off a fourth down attempt to seal the deal.

“We have got an outstanding group of players and an outstanding group of assistant coaches, and the compilation of all their work, you saw the results of tonight,” Williams said.

Fort Chiswell returns to action Friday at Bland County.

“You have got to come back,” James said. “This ain’t always bad, this may unswell their heads a little bit and make them realize you have got to come out ready to play every week.”

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