By J. DANIEL ROLLINS
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
Hurricane Sandy may have forced the Liberty Raiders and Wyoming East Warriors to move their game from Glen Daniel to Anne S. Hunnicutt Stadium in Princeton, but it was obvious both teams were willing to leave all they had on the field in their regular-season finale.
However, it was the visiting Warriors who would be victorious, 41-22. The win secured a postseason spot for the Class AA No. 11 Warriors (7-3).
“We’re excited about being in the playoffs for the first time in a while,” Wyoming East coach Gary Poindexter said after the game. “We’ve just got to take it one game at a time.”
They were led by a dynamic balanced running game that accumulated 280 yards.
The Warriors defense also held Liberty’s running game to only 32 yards on 26 carries.
Wyoming East was the first team on the board when it fooled Liberty’s defense into thinking Chris Cecil had the ball. Instead, it was pitched to Aaron Griffith, who scurried in untouched from nine yards out for a touchdown to put the Warriors on top 7-0.
Early in the second quarter, Chase Lowman would follow up with a touchdown run of his own from the 10-yard line, following it up with a 2-point conversion pass to Aaron Griffith to raise the Wyoming East lead to 15-0.
Liberty wouldn’t be denied, however, as Hunter Wright hit back-to-back passes to brothers Joey and Jake Lacek, the latter from 19 yards out and a touchdown to cut the lead to 15-7.
On the Raiders’ next possession, Wright would find the other brother, Joey Lacek, in single coverage down the right sideline. Lacek managed to reel in an impressive over-the-shoulder pass and bolt in for a 66-yard touchdown.
However, with less than 10 seconds remaining in the first half, Cecil — Wyoming East’s human wrecking ball — bellied in from the 3-yard-line and also converted the extra point to give the Warriors a 22-14 lead heading into halftime.
Wyoming East was quick in the saddle in the second half, putting up another touchdown when quarterback Griffith connected with Ty Treadway on a 3-yard pass for a touchdown. They would follow it up two minutes later when Cecil bulldozed over the Raiders defense for a 7-yard score, his second touchdown of the night.
The balanced Wyoming East running game would continue into the fourth quarter when Jacob Summe capped off a nine-play drive with a 4-yard touchdown run and 41-14 Warriors lead.
Liberty (5-5) was able to find the end zone once again with less than a minute remaining in the contest when senior tailback Matthew Bailey burst through the line of scrimmage for a touchdown. Joey Lacek scored the two-point conversion, but it was too little too late.
Wyoming East now advances to the Class AA playoffs. Pairings, dates and times will be announced today.