As the third quarter turned into the fourth on Friday night, Greenbrier head coach Brian Smith knew his football team was facing an uphill climb.
The task only became tougher when Grovetown quarterback Xavier Crain ran for his second touchdown less than a minute into the fourth quarter to put the Warriors up 16-0.
"Time management, we knew, would be an issue," Smith said.
Despite the long odds, the Wolfpack fought back, securing a stirring 20-16 victory by scoring three touchdowns in the game's final nine minutes.
Down 16-13 with less than three minutes to go, Jahvon Hardrick saw a hole open up and scampered 26 yards for the game-winning score.
"Once I saw that hole, I had to hit it," the junior said. "My fullback, my line cleared it out for me. After I broke that one tackle, I knew I was out of there."
The non-region game was the season opener for both squads.
The Warriors took the lead less than 4 minutes in, as Crain bolted 40 yards for the game's first score. Grovetown extended the advantage to 10-0 after a Corey Stone field goal in the second quarter.
The Wolfpack, meanwhile, couldn't get their offense going in the first half. A multitude of penalties -- 13 for 110 yards -- kept them in long yardage and ruined several prime opportunities in Warriors' territory.
"We played sloppy in the first half," Smith said. "We came out the second half, we talked to our guys, and we just knew we were determined to win."
In the first half, Greenbrier gained just 23 yards on 14 rushing attempts, so the Wolfpack appeared to focus more on the passing game in the second half. Senior quarterback Scott Reeder led the charge, finishing 13-for-23 for 128 yards. His 14-yard touchdown strike to Will Price brought the Wolfpack within 10 with nine minutes to go.
About four minutes later, Trey Lawhorn took a swing pass from a scrambling Reeder, evaded a tackler by cutting toward the middle of the field, and ran 40 yards for a touchdown.
Hardrick completed the scoring minutes later.
Reeder spread his 13 completions among five different receivers. Lawhorn led the way, catching four passes for 48 yards, while Hardrick grabbed three for 30 yards.
While penalties hit Greenbrier in the first half, they started piling up on the Grovetown side in the second. The Warriors had only 3 for 30 yards before halftime, but committed eight penalties after the half for an additional 55 yards.
Both teams felt the heat on opening night, as numerous players pulled up with cramping issues.
"It was a great ball game," Grovetown head coach Rodney Holder said. "They're cramping, we're cramping. Guys are everywhere, and they're battling to get back in the game ... It's amazing what our kids did, and theirs too.
"I tip my cap to them. They made a few big plays on us at the end to give them a chance to win, and they pulled it out."
Crain was the Warriors' offensive leader on the night, carrying 18 times for 91 yards. He also completed a pair of passes for 35 yards and threw an interception.
D.J. Tyson, who transferred from Greenbrier to Grovetown this summer, showed off his speed on a 34-yard run in the first half. However, he was stopped several times for negative yardage, and he finished the night with 16 yards on 10 carries.
Meanwhile, Travon Biggers caught both of Crain's completions, finishing with 35 yards receiving.
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.