GREENBRIER — Not since 2003 had the Greenbrier Panthers defeated the Alma Airdales in a 5A-West Conference game.
However, Friday night at John and Ola Hawk Field at Don Jones Stadium, the Greenbrier Panthers stunned football prognosticators with a 36-33 win over the Airdales.
"Even though this is my second season at Greenbrier, this is the biggest win for me," Panther coach Randy Tribble said. "The players kept on believing they could win and played their hearts out."
Tanner Howland caught a 7-yard pass from Neil Burcham with 21 seconds left in the game to give the Panthers a come-from-behind win. T.J. Tapley split the uprights for the extra point to give Greenbrier a three-point edge.
Dadrian Ester returned Tapley’s kickoff 14 yards to Alma’s 32 to set up the final series. On the first play, Burke Broadfoot threw to Isaac McCoy, but the pass was broken up by Greenbrier’s Hunter Winston. On the next play, Winston intercepted Broadfoot’s pass on what appeared to be the last play of the game, but Greenbrier was flagged for having too many men on the field, to give Alma one more chance to score at Greenbrier’s 48.
With no time on the clock, Broadfoot — who rushed for 221 yards on 24 carries — was tackled by GHS’ Justin Head at the 34 to end the game and give Greenbrier the win.
The game was back and forth, with neither team’s defense able to stop each other’s offense, with a combined total of 905 yards of total offense. Alma (3-3-1, 3-1) outgained Greenbrier (5-2, 3-1) 480-425.
Greenbrier opened the scoring with a 46-yard touchdown pass from Burcham to Hardee with 9:56 left in the opening quarter. Tarpley added the PAT to give the Panthers a 7-0 lead.
Alma answered with a 42-yard scamper by Broadfoot as time expired in the first quarter. The extra point hit the upright, and Greenbrier led 7-6.
The Panthers maintained the lead until the third quarter when Alma’s McCoy ran in from 75 yards out, but the 2-point conversion failed and Alma took the lead 18-14 with 4:34 to go in the quarter.
The final quarter finished with a flurry with both teams combining for 37 points. Greenbrier retook the lead with 11:50 left in the game on a 6-yard pass from Burcham to Hardee. Tapley split the uprights on the extra point and the Panthers led 21-18.
A little more than two minutes later, Broadfoot put the Airedales back in from with a seven yard run for a score and the 2-point conversion to give Alma a four-point lead at 25-21.
Burcham hit with Winston for his fourth touchdown pass of the night for 40 yards and completed a pass to Head for the 2-point conversion to put Greenbrier up 28-25.
With 2:52 left in the game, Broadfoot scored Alma’s last touchdown from five yards out and Nixon Rivera connected on the PAT to give Alma a 33-28 lead and set up the game winning drive for Greenbrier.
Burcham finished the game throwing 367 yards, completing 25 passes on 36 attempts with five touchdown passes. Hardee was Greenbrier’s leading receiver with seven catches for 138 yards and three touchdowns. Hunter Winston rushed for 101 yards on 14 carries.
Greenbrier will celebrate Senior night next week, hosting Morillton at 7:30.