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SC recovers, gets past St. Albans

By D.J. Williams
Chip Ellis
South Charleston's Dana Cunningham finds some running room after catching a pass vs. St. Albans.
ST. ALBANS -- It wasn't the beginning that South Charleston freshman quarterback Kentre Grier envisioned in his first start, but he was more than pleased with the end result - a 35-14 Black Eagles win.A first-half fumble by Grier helped St. Albans take a surprising 14-7 lead, but fortunately for SC (3-3), Grier wasn't fazed by the mistake.He responded with a 15-yard touchdown to even the score, and SC never looked back."I was kind of nervous coming into the game, but after the first couple of drives, I got settled in pretty good," Grier said. "We started moving the ball and I got more confident as the game went on."His numbers support his claim.Grier started the game by going 7 of 13 but completed nine straight passes after that before misfiring on his last two attempts. Grier finished 16 of 24 with 204 yards and a touchdown along with 86 rushing yards and two TDs.After connecting with Marquel Hampton for a 17-yard touchdown pass early in the second quarter, Grier watched St. Albans respond with its own nine-play, 70-yard drive capped by a Drew Kirby 1-yard touchdown run to give the Red Dragons a 8-7 lead. On SC's first play from scrimmage, Grier fumbled the ball as he was running and it was recovered by St. Albans' Kevin Cantley. Seven plays later, St. Albans (0-6) took a 14-7 lead on a Michael Cain 1-yard run."This was a good win, but it wasn't pretty at all," Grier said. "We expected to beat them even though they are a pretty good team. We played a good game after we went down but coach [John Messinger] is probably going to yell at us when we get in the locker room."Messinger wasn't too surprised by his team's slow start.
"This [slow start] is just what I envisioned would happen," Messinger said. "We had one of the biggest wins that we had in a long time last week. We came out a little flat after that win. We were also beat up mentally. We lost A.D. [Cunningham] and that hurts. But, the kids came out and played a good second half of football."Cunningham separated his shoulder in last week's 20-17 win over Capital and it's unsure whether he will need surgery for the injury.That win last week was also significant because Grier took over for incumbent quarterback Jon Alexander and led SC on two fourth-quarter touchdown drives."There are two things that really dictated him [Grier] starting more than his performance last week," Messinger said. "The first being A.D. getting hurt. It really hurt us on the defensive side of the football. People don't realize that Jon Alexander has wanted to play defense here for the last two years but we wouldn't let him. The fact that A.D. is gone dictated the start for Kentre as Jon not getting it done last week. Jon is there if we need him and he knows that."After a 14-all halftime tie, SC opened up the lead in the second half.
Ray-sheed Coleman returned an interception 24 yards for a touchdown on just the third play of the half, Grier added his second touchdown run on a15-yard scamper and Coleman scored on a 4-yard run.Three of SC's next four games are against sub-.500 teams (Nitro, Lincoln County and Ripley). It ends the season at Parkersburg, a team which ended SC's playoff hopes with a 29-13 loss."We are in pretty good shape right now," Messinger said. "There are still people left on our schedule that can trip us up. We just have to stay focused and play football and get out there and win football games."Last year, SC started 1-4 before winning four straight then finishing 5-5.Kirby led SA with 132 rushing yards and a touchdown. 
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