Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local Sports

November 5, 2011

Playoff return for G-Men

Penalties can’t slow G-Men from 35-7 victory over Narrows

NARROWS, Va. — The only thing stopping the Graham G-Men was themselves.

Graham overcame 107 yards in penalties and turnover in the first half to clinch a playoff berth with a 35-7 victory over Narrows at Ragsdale Field on Friday night.

“Wins are hard to come by and wins are always fun,” Graham head coach Mike Williams said. “They had us on the ropes in the first half. We pulled it together, tightened some things up and played a little bit better in the second half.

“That makes us feel pretty good going into next week.”

The G-Men (5-5) were called for 14 penalties alone in the first half and finished with 122 yards in penalties including three holding penalties. Two of those penalties brought back touchdown runs of 91 and 75 yards.

“That's a major problem,” Williams said. “It's tough to win ball games when you have that amount of penalties. It was a major problem in the first half, but it was something we cleaned up in the second half.”

The loss for the Green Wave spoiled their senior night and sent Narrows (0-10) to a winless season.

“It's been a tough year, but we've got some great senior leadership out of those guys,” Narrows head coach Kelly Lowe said. “We had some opportunities in the first half that we let slip up. We took the ball all the way down the field at the beginning of the game and didn't get any points out of it.

“That hurts against a good team. Its little things like that you don't make against a good team will come back in haunt you.”

Graham won the toss and elected to receive. The G-Men wasted little time in marching down the field.

Three plays in, Aderrius Jackson broke free for a 21 yard gain. He would add a short six-yard gain before Lamont Edwards took it to the house for a 30-yard touchdown.

“Normally that sets the tone pretty good,” Williams said. “But they ran right down the field on us the next drive and we were fortunate to hold them to no points on that drive. We drove the field and scored in the first two minutes, but then the next 22 minutes it was 8-7 us.

“It was a neck and neck ballgame. As far as setting the tone, it didn't do as much as we hoped.”

Graham missed the extra point after moving back five yards for a false start penalty.

On the ensuing kickoff, Narrows' Wyatt Robertson picked the ball up inside the 10 and took it out before being stripped by Graham's Jacob Evans. It looked as if the referees had blown the play dead before the fumble, but the referees awarded the G-Men the ball.

A play later, Graham returned the favor with a fumble of their own as the Green Wave recovered.

Narrows would march 80 yards before their drive stalled at the five-yard line and the Green Wave turned the ball over on downs.

Following a Cory Coppola four-yard rush, Jackson took the handoff 91 yards for what looked like a touchdown, but Graham was called for holding bringing the ball back. Yet several plays later, Cody Hatfield went 35 yards for a score.

The G-Men went for two as Spencer Sheets hit Gabe Hurt for the conversion to make it 14-0.

Narrows would put together another solid drive to start the second quarter, but stalled in the red zone with their second turnover on downs.

“It's just little mistakes,” Lowe said. “A missed blocking assignment here or there. It's part of it.

“We've had that a bunch of times this year. It's one of those things we can't seem to get a hold of.”

The G-Men did no better on their next series as they went three-and-out.

The Green Wave took advantage of several penalties to march 62 yard for a touchdown.

Graham was called for two personal foul penalties and two offside penalties which helped set up a one-yard touchdown by Robinson with 1:16 left in the first half.

“We felt like we were getting good possession on offense in the first half,” Lowe said. “We were moving the ball effectively. We would get bogged down there.

“We came out with a little momentum and couldn't put that drive together to start the second half. They gained the momentum back and it was hard after that.”

Narrows started the second half with the ball, but the G-Men held them to a three-and-out.

Penalties once again called back a touchdown for Graham when Coppola took it 75 yards for a score but a personal foul face mask penalty brought it back. Two plays later, Sheets hit Dalton White for a 78-yard completion to set up an eight-yard score by Hurt.

The G-Men would add two more touchdowns in the fourth quarter.

Sheets scored on a two-yard rushing touchdown and Jackson added a 38-yard score.

“We cleaned up the penalties,” Williams said of the change in the second half. “I think we played better. We tackled better.

“We blocked better. We hit better. Overall, just the basic fundamentals of football were better in the second half.”

Graham totaled 390 yards of offense while limiting the Green Wave to 155 yards. The G-Men were balanced with 210 coming on the ground and 180 through the air.

 “Offense was pretty good,” Williams said. “We had probably two of our longest runs of the season called back tonight and that's a real crusher. The offense was pretty steady for the most part.

“We've got some things to clean up. When you're getting large runs like that called back, you can't do that and get away with it against everybody. That's something we need to adjust and clean up going into next week.”

Jackson led Graham's ground attack with 73 yards and a touchdown. Sheets was 3 of 3 passing for 124 yards.

After moving the ball well in the first half, Narrows managed only 30 yards of offense and turned the ball over twice in the second half --- once on downs and the other via fumble.

“We couldn't get clicking,” Lowe said. “We'd get a first down then we couldn't do anything. We'd have a missed blocking assignment.

“Stuff like that is what kills. Graham's got a good football team. I wish them luck, but I'm proud of our seniors and our group.

“We play hard and battled to the end. I'm proud of our guys.”

Robertson finished with 72 yards on 17 carries. Joe Butler added 49 yards on 12 carries.

The win advances the G-Men to the Group A, Division 2, West Section plays off next week after winning only one game last year.

“We've got a good team,” Williams said. “We felt that way all the way back in August. We felt like we had a playoff-caliber team here.

“Of course, once you get in then it's anyone's chance to move on to the next level. We're real excited about that and we're excited for the kids. We're on a pretty good run right now.”

—Contact Jonathan Greene

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