Grizzlies send Tigers into hibernation

(Brad Davis/The Register-Herald) Nicholas County quarterback Timmy Baker throws a first quarter touchdown in the redzone against Princeton Friday night in Summersville.

Summersville — It was cold and uncomfortable, but for Nicholas County it was worth it.

The Grizzlies' offense sustained its recent tear, scoring 30 points for the fifth straight game and finishing the regular season with a 36-6 home win over Class AAA Princeton Friday night.

More importantly for the hosts, it solidified their spot in the playoffs for the fourth straight year.

"That was a good win," Nicholas County head coach Gene Morris said. "We were able to execute and take care of what we needed to and finish out the regular season on a high note with a winning streak."

Coming in knowing a playoff berth was on the line, Morris pulled out all of the stops against Princeton's spread offense which looked to attack Nicholas County through the air.

With freshman quarterback Grant Cochran leading the way for the Tigers, Morris and the Grizzlies brought pressure all night, making the young signal caller uncomfortable in the pocket.

"We really wanted to try and put pressure on him," Morris said. "If you just rush three, he'd have all day to throw and they've got some skill players out there and he throws the ball really well. We tried to make him uncomfortable in the pocket and we did that with some different types of pressures. Coming off the edge, up the middle, we wanted to do some different things and sit back in a zone."

For the Tigers, the pressure often derailed their early drives. 

Conversions on third and long proved unsustainable after a few early passes from Cochran to Elijah Padgett extended drives that ultimately ended in punts.

Meanwhile Nicholas County, which utilizes the passing game well, elected to keep it on the ground most of the night — the lone exception being the team's first score, an 18-yard touchdown pass from Timmy Baker to Luke LeRose.

The rushing attack of the Grizzlies gave the Tigers trouble as the hosts compiled four rushing scores, scoring on explosive runs of 66, 54 and 32 yards.

"We have three tailbacks we think we can use at any time with Justin Hill, Zach O'Dell and Justin Williams," Morris said. "All of them bring something different to the table, but they do it effectively. But to be able to run or throw the ball, it has to be those guys up front and four of them are seniors. They just keep getting better and better and the communication is second to none when it comes to this group of linemen.

"People try to throw some different things at us, but when you have that sort of seasoned line, it helps. That's where our biggest blessing is, up front with those guys."

With the lead continuing to grow, the Nicholas County pass rush took advantage, pinning its ears back and moving up field on Cochran.

"We've been struggling all year up front," Princeton head coach Chris Pedigo said. "That's a reason we've gone with the passing game. We knew we were going to have struggles up front. We've lost six guys, so we've got a makeshift line. But they kept giving us effort and that's all I can ask. It's been terrible year for injuries. We've played with a bunch of young guys and and that's going to help us get better in the future."

Princeton finishes its season at 2-8 with win over Ripley and Oak Hill.

Nicholas County finishes the regular season at 8-2 and will await the release of today's WVSSAC ratings to see whether or not they will host a first round playoff game or go on the road.

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First quarter

NC: LeRose 18 yard pass from Baker (Conversion fails); 6:13

Second quarter

NC: Hill 66 rush (conversion fails); 11:01

NC: O'Dell 1 rush (Baker rush); 1:05

Third quarter

NC: O'Dell 54 rush (O'Dell rush); 10:24

Fourth Quarter

NC: O'Dell 32 rush (O'Dell rush); 7:00

P: Parsons 10 yard pass from Cochran (fails); 1:01

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