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CURRENT STORIES


RCB snaps out of first half funk

by Mike Nutter

SPORTS WRITER

CLARKSBURG -- Robert C. Byrd guard Chapin Martin wouldn't give the details of head coach Bryan Fisher's halftime speech.

Whatever it was, though, it worked.

After a listless first half, the Eagles rebounded from a 3-2 halftime deficit to defeat Greenbrier East, 24-3, Friday night at Eagles Stadium.

"It was pretty intense in there," Martin said. "We'll never forget it, but we needed it."

At that point, Class AAA No. 14 Robert C. Byrd (6-2) needed anything it could get to jump start the same offense that scored a school record 70 points against Nicholas County a week ago. Through two quarters on Friday, the Eagles had negative four yards of total offense and had yet to make a first down against the winless Spartans.

Greenbrier East (0-7) was worse.

The Spartans had negative 22 yard of total offense at halftime and their only two first downs came on Eagles' penalties. The bulk their lost yardage came on Greenbrier East's first possession. The Spartans lined up to punt, but the snap back to punter Matt Burns' head. With the ball rolling toward the Robert C. Byrd end zone, Burns alertly kicked the ball through the remainder of the way for a safety.

"Defense won that ball game tonight," Fisher said. "They came to play the whole game. In the second half our offensive line got going, but for whatever reason our offense was in a funk in the first half.

"Things were there, but for whatever reason, we weren't making plays. That's football. You'll have that."

Trailing 3-2 after Matt Bryant's 40-yard field goal in the second quarter, the Eagles scored three of their first four possessions of the second half behind junior tailback Tyjuan Wright.

After being held to just 10 yards in the first half, Wright rushed for 117 yards and three touchdowns in the second half, finishing with 127 yards on 23 carries.

He capped the Eagles' first possession of the second half with an 11-yard touchdown run, and Nick Alex's two-point conversion pass to Migel Lockett gave Robert C. Byrd a 10-7 lead.

"We don't know the numbers, but at halftime we knew it wasn't good," Martin said. "We took that personally. It starts and ends (with the offensive line)."

Wright would add a pair of 1-yard runs to give Robert C. Byrd its third consecutive victory.

The Spartans, however, could never find their offensive rhythm. A fumbled punt set up their only scoring opportunity in the second half -- a 43-yard field goal that was well short. For the game, they managed just four yards of total offense and three first downs.

"We've had some ups and downs, but overall our defense has been playing well this year," defensive tackle Adam Rowh said. "You always worry about giving a team that many chances, but we stayed calm and in control.

"I think the message at halftime got to us because we came out and put points on the board."

Sports writer Mike Nutter can be reached at 626-1444 or by e-mail at mnutter@exponent-telegram.com