Offensively, Greenbrier could do no wrong in a 56-33 victory against Morrilton on senior night.
For the Panthers (6-2, 4-1), Neal Burcham was 21 of 34 for 330 yards and three touchdowns. Greenbrier’s Hunter Winston also had a big game. He finished with 186 yards and four touchdowns on 15 carries. He also caught nine passes for 141 yards and two touchdowns.
"We have a lot of confidence with what we can do offensively," Greenbrier coach Randy Tribble said. "We were able to run and pass the ball, and it only helps when you’re able to do both."
Greenbrier had a chance to put the game out of reach in the second quarter, but a fourth-and-goal pass fell incomplete, with 5:12 left. At that point, the Panthers held a 28-6 advantage, but it didn’t take long for the Devil Dogs to cut into the lead. Criswell broke free on a 75-yard run, and two plays later he scored from four yards out, making the score 28-12 at the half.
Morrilton came out of the break, and tacked on another score after Tyrell Hood recovered a fumble at the Greenbrier 19, which closed the gape to a one-possession game. Criswell pounded the ball in from the 1 on third down, and then scored on the two-point conversion attempt.
The Panthers wasted no time answering.
Justin Head capped off a drive in 1:29, after receiving a 6-yard pass from Burcham. Head was hit at the 2 by a few Devil Dogs, but pulled them across the goal line. The PAT by T.J. Tapley pushed the score to 35-20.
After Criswell’s 38-yard touchdown on the first play in the fourth quarter, The Devil Dogs pulled within 9 at 35-26. Winston responded 50 seconds later on a 42-yard touchdown run. He scored his final touchdown of the night on a 19-yard run, after Brady Day recovered a fumble on the ensuing kickoff. Burcham added the Panthers’ final score on a 48-yard scamper.
IN THE RECORD BOOKS
Winston’s six touchdowns on Friday night tied D.J. Vinacco’s record for most touchdowns in one game. The record has stood since 1995.
This was the last regular season home game of the year for the Panthers, and each of the 15 seniors walked out to midfield for the coin toss before the contest.
Justin Head, Patrick Allen and Cody Standridge were the ones who stepped out in front of the bunch. Greenbrier won the toss and received the opening kickoff.
"It just feels great," Head said. "These fans really pump us up and keep us going."
CRISWELL CARRIES THE LOAD
Morrilton’s Justin Criswell, who ended up with 406 yards and five touchdowns on 42 carries, touched the ball seven out of eight times on the Devil Dogs’ first possession. Criswell had seven carries for 60 yards and a touchdown on the drive. His 14-yard run closed the Panthers’ lead to 7-6, with 7:10 left in the first quarter. By the end of the opening quarter, he had 97 yards on 12 carries. Criswell ended up with 214 yards on 24 carries at the half.
BIG HITTING ALLEN
Greenbrier’s Patrick Allen has had some big hits this season on defense. However, his biggest hit of the year may have come on offense.
On the next to the last play before halftime, Allen’s latest bone-crushing hit came at a receiver position. Burcham completed a pass to Hunter Winston about seven yards from the line of scrimmage. Once Winston had the ball in his grab, just as he started from right-to-left, Allen came and cracked the linebacker, which sprung Winston for an extra 12 yards.
T.J. Tapley, who was recruited to kick this season from the soccer team, has nailed 32-of-32 extra point kicks this season. He has not yet attempted a field goal.
(See Sunday’s edition of the Log Cabin Democrat for more interviews and game stats from this game.)