Easley pulls away for win over Wren

By Cole Little
Courier Sports

EASLEY — With a galloping 83-yard kick return for a touchdown in the final five minutes of the game, Easley senior Will Drawdy elicited a deafening roar from the fans inside Green Wave Stadium on Friday night, sealing his squad’s 49-32 win over archrival Wren.

The win evened the Green Wave’s record to 2-2, while Wren fell to 1-2 overall.

9-14 Page 1B.inddCapping off a second half in which Easley outscored the Hurricanes 28-11, Drawdy’s kick return to the house provided the Green Wave with just enough breathing room to avoid enduring a nerve-wracking finish, something Easley fans had become accustomed to over the early portion of the 2016 season.

In a gridiron battle of natural disasters, the Hurricanes were washed away by the Green Wave, with Wren’s defense serving as no match for Easley’s offense. Outgaining the Hurricanes 424 yards to 334 yards, Easley controlled the clock for much of the game, resulting in perhaps the most jaw-dropping statistic of the game. With a mind-blowing 35 more plays from scrimmage than Wren, Easley’s offense was controlling throughout the game.

Things didn’t start out perfectly for the Green Wave, however, as the offense was slow out of the gate.

After falling behind 7-0 early, Easley then used a defensive highlight to even the score, with Green Wave linebacker Caleb Hill picking off a pass from Wren quarterback Jay Ulrich and returning it 30 yards for a touchdown. The interception was one of three turnovers forced by Easley in the game.

Late in the first quarter, after Easley was victimized by way of a kick return touchdown by Wren, Easley quarterback Weston Black, who finished 8-of-13 for 117 yards, evened the score at 14-14 with a 13-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Bralan Fuller.

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Kerry Gilstrap/Courier
Easley senior Will Drawdy scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns, including an 83-yard kickoff return, to help lead the Green Wave to a 49-32 win over rival Wren on Friday night.

Although Black was efficient against Wren, Easley’s running game was the driving force behind the team’s victory.

Running back Derrick Phillips was practically unstoppable, amassing 156 yards on 19 carries.

The other half of Easley’s dynamic Phillips duo, Quenten Phillips, was the first Green Wave player to power his way into the end zone on the ground against Wren, as he capped off a 77-yard drive early in the second quarter with a five-yard touchdown run.

Wren was able to knot the game up at 21-21 with a short touchdown drive just before halftime, but the second half was all Easley. Derrick Phillips powered into the end zone with a 27-yard run early in the third quarter to put the Green Wave up 28-21. Wren added a field goal later in the quarter — after a Hurricanes touchdown was nullified due to a penalty — but let the game get out of hand in the fourth.

9-14 Page 1B.inddOn consecutive drives in the fourth quarter, Easley scored touchdowns to take a commanding 42-24 lead. The first touchdown ended with Black connecting with Fuller again for a touchdown pass. A 64-yard score, Black looked downfield and found a wide-open Fuller, who then turned on the jets and left Wren defenders in the dust as he crossed the goal line and put Easley up 35-24. Soon after, Drawdy finished off a quick 56-yard Easley drive with an 18-yard run for a touchdown, making the score 42-24 in favor of the home team with 7:16 left in the game, but Drawdy was not done contributing yet.

Wren cut the deficit to 10 points on the next drive, stringing together an efficient 80-yard touchdown drive, which was finished off by a successful two-point conversion, but the Hurricanes had their hearts broken when Drawdy effectively neutralized it with his ensuing kickoff return for the game’s final score.

Holding the ball for 15 more minutes than the Hurricanes, the Green Wave were even more dominant in Friday night’s clash than the 49-32 final score indicates.

Easley will travel to Oconee County this Friday to battle the 1-3 Seneca Bobcats in what should be an intense battle. The Bobcats handed the Green Wave a lopsided 38-0 loss last year, and Easley will be on the hunt for revenge this week.

Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. at Seneca’s Tom Bass Field.