Two early Pioneer turnovers and one late Westview defensive stand were key to the visiting Chargers’ 49-42 victory over the host Gibson County Pioneers Friday night in Dyer.
Triple threat — Westview senior Chris Gardner (left) scored three touchdowns in three different ways in the Chargers’ 49-42 win over Gibson County. Gardner scored via a pass reception, a run and a kickoff return in his first game back after missing four
The Pioneers (4-4, 1-4 Region 8-2A) fumbled the snap on their first two offensive plays. Westview recovered both times with Logan Callins falling on the first loose ball and Denzel Cook recovering the second error.
Taking over at the Pioneer 30 after the first fumble, Westview used five J.C. Griggs runs to cover the distance with the senior bulling his way across the goal line from one yard out for the score. Hyantae Kim booted the first of his seven successful point after kicks to put the Chargers on top 7-0 with 10:13 still to play in the first quarter.
Cook’s recovery also set up the Chargers at the GC 30. Westview (5-3, 4-1 Region 8-2A) needed just one play to score its second TD in a matter of 14 seconds. QB Brian West found Chris Gardner on a post route good for the full 30 yards and six points. Gardner saw his first action since a hand injury caused him to miss four games. The senior made the most of his return, scoring three TDs on three touches — a pass reception, a kick return and a run.
“The offense did a great job of coming on the field and pushing the ball through and putting a couple of touchdowns on the board. That was really the difference in the game. We played pretty evenly after that,” WHS head coach Don Coady said.
Gibson County regrouped and didn’t turn the ball over again in the game. The Pioneers switched quarterbacks, lining Sherrod Johnson behind center. His 44-yard keeper set up a 5-yard option pitch to Chase Arnold for the first Pioneer score. Cody Carpenter’s kick was wide, leaving the WHS lead at 14-6 with 7:21 to play in the first frame.
It didn’t take long for the score to change as Gardner took the ensuing kickoff 76 yards up the field to the end zone for a 21-6 lead with 7:15 on the clock.
“The kicking game was big. I thought we won that facet decisively. Probably, in honesty, the two offense tied and the two defenses tied. We won in turnovers and the special teams,” Coady said.
After Gardner’s big return, the Pioneers opted for high, short kicks and squibbers which gave Westview excellent field position to start nearly every drive.
With Johnson still at QB, the Pioneers moved to the Charger 30 before the defense held on fourth-and-5 to give the ball back to Westview.
The Chargers kept the ball on the ground including a 30-yard run by Griggs on the next drive. West romped untouched around the left end for a 4-yard TD run and a 28-6 lead with 12 seconds to play in the opening quarter.
The Pioneers then went back to original starting quarterback Lee Whitaker and he connected for back-to-back completions to start the next drive, including a 26-yarder to Casey Ivie. After runs moved the ball into the red zone, Whitaker hit Matt Littleton on a 4-yard touchdown toss. Johnson ran in the two-pointer to cut the WHS lead to 28-14 with 7:30 to play in the first half.
Westview responded with a 60-yard drive. Callins, at fullback, rumbled 37 yards to the 1, setting up Griggs’ second 1-yard TD run of the game for a 35-14 lead with 4:22 in the half.
Gibson County countered with a 75-yard, 11-play drive that took all but 16 seconds of the remaining time in the half. Jake Hill blasted across the goal line from 1 yard out. The Chargers blocked Carpenter’s PAT kick for a 35-20 halftime lead.
Westview took the second half kickoff and two plays later Gardner ran 45 yards around the end for the quick score to give WHS a 42-20 lead.
A 35-yard kick return by Carpenter gave GC good field position and the Pioneers took advantage with Johnson hauling Chargers on an 8-yard scoring run. Johnson also caught a Whitaker pass for the two-pointer to slice the WHS lead to 42-28 with 8:54 left in the third.
The final Charger score came on an 80-yard, 11-play drive that took 6:18 off the clock and ended on a 4-yard Griggs scoring run for a 49-28 lead with 2:36 to play in the third.
A 68-yard Carpenter kickoff return set up Gibson County at the WHS 15. A 9-yard Johnson sweep put points on the board and Carpenter’s PAT cut the WHS lead to 49-35 with 1:59 to play in the third quarter.
GC’s Mitchell Simpson intercepted a short West pass near midfield with 9:42 left to play.
Staying on the ground, the Pioneers earned a first-and-goal at the WHS 7. With Gibson County knocking on the door, the Charger defense rose to the occasion. Two runs lost three yards, but Hill picked up 9 on third down to set up fourth-and-goal at the 1. At the snap, Matt Melton and Joseph Hicks led a host of Chargers who stuffed Hill’s run to the right side to keep Gibson County from drawing closer with 5:49 left to play.
“We had a big stand there that kept the lead at two touchdowns and gave us a chance to get the ball back and run some clock,” Coady said.
Taking over near their own goal line, WHS needed a first down to keep the clock moving. On third-and-7, Griggs led the way and opened a hole for Tremaine McKinley who raced 42-yards to flip the field position. The GC defense did eventually force the game’s only punt. Kim made a nice effort to haul in a high snap and get off a 24-yarder with no Pioneer return.
Starting at their own 28, the Pioneers went to the air. Whitaker hit Arnold for a 32-yard completion before Johnson out-jumped Gardner to haul in a 23-yard touchdown pass. Carpenter’s PAT cut the Charger lead to one score at 49-42 but only 45 seconds were left on the clock.
The Pioneers’ onside kick attempt was covered by Westview to end the Gibson County threat.
Westview-Gibson County, Stats
Westview 28 7 14 0—49
Gibson County 6 14 15 7—42
WHS — J.C Griggs 1-yard run, (Hyantae Kim kick), 10:13.
WHS — Chris Gardner 30-yard pass from Brian West, (Kim kick), 9:59.
GCHS — Chase Arnold 5-yard run, (kick failed), 7:21.
WHS — Gardner 76-yard kickoff return, (Kim kick), 7:15.
WHS — West 4-yard run, (Kim kick), 00:12.
GCHS — Matt Littleton 4-yard pass from Lee Whitaker, (Sherrod Johnson run), 7:30.
WHS — Griggs 1-yard run, (Kim kick), 4:22.
GCHS — Jake Hill 1-yard run, (kick failed), 00:16.
WHS — Gardner 45-yard run, (Kim kick), 11:18.
GCHS — Johnson 8-yard run, (Johnson pass from Whitaker), 8:54.
WHS — Griggs 4-yard run, (Kim kick), 2:36.
GCHS — Johnson 9-yard run, (Cody Carpenter kick), 1:59.
GCHS — Johnson 23-yard pass from Whitaker, (Carpenter kick), 00:45.
First Downs 20 27
Rushes-yards 46-338 49-293
Passing yards 57 110
Comp-Att-Int 4-5-1 6-9-0
Punts 1-24 0-0
Fumbles-Lost 0-0 2-2
Penalties-yards 8-79 4-27
Rushing — Westview, J.C. Griggs 25-147, Logan Callins 4-52, Tremaine McKinley 4-52, Chris Gardner 1-45, Brian West 11-37, Matt Melton 1-5; Gibson County, Sherrod Johnson 15-126, Chase Arnold 16-104, Jake Hill 13-71, Cody Carpenter 2-4, Lee Whitaker 3-(-12).
Passing — Westview, West 4-5-1 — 57; Gibson County, Whitaker 6-9-0 — 110.
Receiving — Westview, Gardner 1-30, Melton 2-24, Griggs 1-3; Gibson County, Casey Ivie 2-46, Arnold 1-32, Johnson 1-23, Hill 1-5, Matt Littleton 1-4.
Records — Westview 5-3 (4-1 Region 8-2A), Gibson County 4-4 (1-4 Region 8-2A).
Next Game — Westview will host the Humboldt Vikings with kickoff set for 7:30 on Friday night, while Gibson County will visit the University School of Jackson with kickoff at 7 on Friday evening.