After three straight games of little production on the scoreboard, Apalachee’s offense turned in a strong performance Friday, Oct. 16, but it wasn’t enough to overcome an even bigger night from an explosive Greenbrier team.
Junior quarterback Brooks Pangle threw for 264 yards and five touchdown passes — including four in the first half — and the Wolfpack held off a late push from the Wildcats, earning a 42-27 road victory in a GHSA Region 8-AAAAA contest at R. Harold Harrison Stadium.
Down 35-16 at the half, the Wildcats (0-6, 0-3 region), who totaled 494 yards of offense on the night and got a career night from senior quarterback Todd Jones (399 yards through the air on 20-of-37 passing), clawed their way back into the game in the fourth quarter — getting a 31-yard field goal from Brody Ham and a 30-yard touchdown pass from Jones to a leaping Charlie Hych at the goal line to pull within a score after Jones found Andrew Howe in the end zone for a two-point conversion that made it 35-27 with 4:47 remaining in the game.
But two critical plays snuffed out the Wildcats’ chances at a comeback and encapsulated what has been a frustrating season thus far for head coach Tony Lotti’s team. First, after Greenbrier recovered an onside kick at the Apalachee 49, Pangle needed just two plays to boost the lead back up to two scores as he hit Jackson Smith on a quick swing pass and Smith took it around the left end and down the sideline 44 yards untouched to make it 42-27 with 3:52 left to play. The Wildcats quickly came flying back down the field as Jones found Hych again for a 35-yard completion to the Wolfpack 45 and then connected on a screen pass in the flat to Colby Sikes, who took it 26 yards down to the 19. But on the next play, Isaiah Starks caught a pass at the 15, but a Greenbrier defender jarred the ball loose and the Wolfpack returned the fumble into Apalachee territory with 2:41 to play and were able to pick up a couple of first downs and run the clock out from there.
For a second straight game Friday, Apalachee jumped out to an early lead after holding Greenbrier to a three-and-out to start the game. The Wildcats needed just four plays to cover 49 yards with Channin Daniels plunging into the end zone from a yard out after Sikes brought in a 41-yard pass from Jones.
But the Wolfpack (5-1, 2-1) quickly answered, as Wilkes Riggins ripped off a 54-yard run and Pangle found Brayden Collett from 7 yards out on the first of his three touchdown receptions for the game to tie it with 6:44 left.
The Wildcat kickoff returner then inadvertently stepped out of bounds at his own 7-yard line while fielding the ensuing kickoff, and the Wolfpack defense promptly sacked Jones in the end zone for a safety go up 9-7.
Greenbrier covered 56 yards on six plays on its next possession — capped by a 5-yard touchdown pass from Pangle to Malik Leverett — and then, after sacking Jones and forcing a fumble, needed just two plays to go 31 yards for another score, this time a 25-yard pass from Pangle to Collett to make it 21-7 with 3:57 left in the opening quarter.
Apalachee continued to try to chip away at the lead in the second quarter, but the Wolfpack had a response each time. Riggins had 116 rushing yards on 12 carries and a 1-yard touchdown run to add to Pangle’s five touchdowns. Kahlil Harris led the Wolfpack rushing attack with 128 yards on 19 carries. Sikes had 57 yards and a rushing touchdown on 13 carries for the Wildcats.
The Wildcats are off next week before resuming action Oct. 30 at Johnson-Gainesville.
G 21 14 0 7 — 42
A 7 9 0 11 — 27
A—Channin Daniels 1 run (Brody Ham kick)
G—Brayden Collett 7 pass from Brooks Pangle (Wilson Donnelly kick)
G—Malik Leverett 5 pass from Pangle (kick failed)
G—Collett 25 pass from Pangle (kick failed)
A—Colby Sikes 5 run (kick failed)
G—Collett 20 pass from Pangle (Donnelly kick)
A—Ham 35 FG
G—Wilkes Riggins 1 run (Donnelly kick)
A—Ham 31 FG
A—Charlie Hych 30 pass from Todd Jones (Andrew Howe pass from Jones)
G—Jackson Smith 44 pass from Pangle (Donnelly kick)