Greenbrier's Nick Wandless added an extra line to the Wolfpack's post-game Lord's Prayer Friday night at Blanchard Stadium.
"Thank the Lord for Ben Tankersley," Wandless said in tribute to the junior place kicker. Tankersley booted three field goals to give Greenbrier a hard-fought 9-7 win over Evans.
The Knights didn't have a prayer against the Pack defense - Greenbrier forced four turnovers and Evans managed just 126 yards of total offense during the season opener for both clubs.
"Offense wins games, but defense wins championships," Wandless said after the Pack claimed bragging rights over their Columbia County rivals. "We had big plays on defense, like the interceptions by Fitz Wiggleton and Chad Hester."
Wandless contributed at linebacker, and also turned in some tough runs at fullback. After the victory, the senior shed tears in memory of former Greenbrier student Craig Davis, who was killed in an automobile accident earlier Friday.
"Before the game we dedicated tonight to Craig Davis," Wandless said. "He was Greenbrier High School. He was our biggest fan and he had the biggest heart."
Greenbrier took the opening kickoff and moved downfield behind the slashing runs of tailback Ronney Bussey. When the drive stalled, Tankersley converted a 22-yard field goal to give Greenbrier a 3-0 lead.
On Evans' first play from scrimmage, Pack lineman David Weitz jarred the ball loose and Greenbrier recovered. That led to another Tankersley field goal and a 6-0 first-quarter advantage.
Evans had trouble moving the football in the first half, as Greenbrier linemen Weitz and Brent Edwards applied constant pressure.
Still, the Knights surged ahead in the second quarter, thanks to a blocked punt by Tanis Maynor. Following the block, Evans drove from the Greenbrier 32, with Travis Clark finally crossing the goal line on a quarterback keeper.
The Knights stopped Greenbrier on a fourth down play from the Evans 6-yard line in the third quarter when Chris Cozart and Steven Lee brought down Pack quarterback Cam Griffin.
"We should have been beat 28-0, but our kids played hard and gave us a chance at the end. I'm proud of them for that," said Lee Chomskis, Evans first-year coach.
Tankersley kicked the game-winning field goal with 5:35 remaining in the fourth quarter, splitting the uprights from 28 yards.
Evans had one more chance, but Clark was intercepted by Hester.
"We're a young football team and we showed it" When you turn the ball over four times, you're going to get beat," Chomskis said.
Reach Mike Howell at (706) 868-1222.
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