Grier's hot hand carries SC past Nitro
Kentre Grier isn't ready for the Kennedy Award discussion just yet, but he served notice Friday night that he could be sooner than later.
Even if that's not important, this is: As a freshman, he appears ready to take South Charleston into the playoffs, and perhaps a round or two deep.
Grier led SC to a 70-28 romp over Nitro in the Black Eagles' Oakes Field finale, putting up Geno Smith/Rakeem Cato-like numbers: 14 of 21, 454 yards and seven touchdowns, with nary an interception. He also ran for a touchdown, adding 51 yards on four carries.
Under his direction, the Black Eagles (5-3) put up 692 total yards, and that could have been more ridiculous - they had four long touchdowns plays negated by penalty. SC led 35-14 after one quarter, 49-21 at the half.
This was Grier's third start, and everything seemed to click. He has more than 1,000 yards, 14 touchdowns and no interceptions in four games dating back to Sept. 21.
"I tell you what: The kids have bought in to what he's selling," said SC coach John Messinger. "We came out there in the second half against Capital, and he turned it on from the get-go. They did a good job all the way around - they were a little shaky on defense getting started - but we came around, got the job done and that's all you can ask for."
Whether throwing bombs, slants or inside screens, Grier and his receivers turned in one explosive play after another. His shortest pass was 9 yards, and that was to a downfield penalty flag - he had hit Trevond Reese for a 79-yard TD that was brought back by a holding foul.
Reese got his TDs that counted, from 32, 15 and 17 yards. He had four catches for 72 yards, which was ordinary compared to fellow receiver Kevin Forrest.
Forrest, a 6-foot, 185-pound junior, caught five balls for 238 yards, scoring on plays of 85, 86 and 26 yards. The first long score answered Nitro's early strike and tied the game 1:18 in; the second long score put the Eagles up 49-21, and came two plays after they faced second-and-22 from their own 1-yard line.
This is how devastating the Eagles were on this Friday night: Nitro coach Derek Midkiff said his youthful team played some of its best football of the season, and he wasn't off base.
The Wildcats (2-4) piled up 487 total yards of their own. Brayden Underwood rushed for 175 yards on 30 carries, Ethan Clark caught six passes for 147 yards and Nick Humphrey caught four passes for 128 yards and a touchdown. On Nitro's first play of scrimmage, Humphrey caught a bomb from Chris Moody for 74 yards to the SC 1.
Moody scored on the next play. The senior suffered from some second-half wildness, but still went 12 of 31 for 279 yards and a 39-yard scoring toss to Humphrey.
Humphrey's reception tied the game at 14 with 5:54 still remaining in marathon first quarter, but SC's athletic ability was bound to break the game open. On the Eagles' next scrimmage play, Grier ran 51 yards on a designed run; two plays into the next possession, Ken Haynes romped 56 yards to make it 28-14.
From there, the Eagles ran like horses, with Grier and Forrest leading the scoring. Marquel Hampton and Qua Davis also had a touchdown apiece, with Davis scoring SC's 10th touchdown on an 80-yard run.
"It's a weird game tonight, because I thought we played some of our best football of the year," Midkiff said. "I'll say that; we played our best football of the year tonight. We just got out-athleted; the thing about it is we didn't back down. We could have sat back and played prevent defense and let them pick you apart, but we got up and our guys wanted to challenge them.
"They got out there and challenged them and competed, and I'm proud of them for it."
Messinger said, "Derek's a smart kid. He had a great mentor [Scott Tinsley], didn't he? He's got a few trick plays up his sleeve. Give Derek time and next thing you know, they'll be winning games.
"I'm just glad it didn't start with us tonight."
Reach Doug Smock at 304-348-5130, firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him at twitter.com/dougsmock.