The Greenbrier Bobcats hosted the Creek Wood Red Hawks Friday night in the opening contest of Region 5-4A play for both teams.

In a tight defensive battle, the Red Hawks forced four turnovers in a 13-0 win over the Bobcats. 

Elijah Donaldson had a huge night on both sides of the ball for Creek Wood, throwing for two touchdowns on offense and intercepting two passes on defense. 

“I’m really proud of my guys tonight. It was a hard-fought battle,” Creek Wood coach Houston Thiel said. “Greenbrier’s going to be a really good team this year. It’s always nice to get that first region win, and I thought our guys really responded well. Our defense gave up some yards but not any points, so that was huge.” 

After a scoreless first quarter, Donaldson’s first score came on Creek Wood’s opening drive of the second as he found Brandon Porter streaking down the left sideline for a 53-yard touchdown to give the Red Hawks a 7-0 lead. 

It looked like Greenbrier would respond before the half as the Bobcats moved the ball inside the Creek Wood 15-yard line. However, senior Stoney Smith’s pass on third down was picked off by Donaldson in the endzone. 

“You can’t say enough about (Donaldson),” Thiel said. “When you first trot him out there on defense as a head coach, you’re a nervous wreck because he’s your starting quarterback that changes the whole look of your offense. But then you see the plays that he makes on defense, and you just can’t keep him off the field. He’s just that kind of a ball player.”

Greenbrier received the second half kickoff and marched right down the field again, this time getting down to the one-yard line. After getting stopped at the goal line on second down, Smith left the game due to cramps. Backup quarterback Braxton Laney then entered the game but fumbled the snap on third down, resulting in a loss of ten yards. 

The Bobcats were then forced to kick a field goal, but it sailed wide to the left as Creek Wood came up with a momentum-changing stop on defense. 

“I’m still proud of our guys tonight. We had our chances, and that’s all you can ask for,” Greenbrier coach John Elmore said. “But when you have four turnovers and have a bad snap at the one-yard line, if you can punch it in there, who knows what’s going to happen the rest of the game? You just have to give credit to Creek Wood. They made the plays when they needed to.”

Creek Wood took advantage on the ensuing drive to extend their lead. Donaldson connected with Porter once again, this time on a 28-yard touchdown pass. A missed extra point left the score at 13-0. 

Although Greenbrier outgained Creek Wood 214 to 190 in total yards, turnovers continued to plague Greenbrier all night long. Laney remained in at quarterback the rest of the game but failed to lead a comeback attempt, as Donaldson came up with his second interception of the night in the fourth quarter to seal the win for the Red Hawks. 

Despite the loss, Greenbrier honored its class of 19 seniors tonight, a group that endured an unusual offseason filled uncertainty and no preseason scrimmages. 

“This is just a great group of young men,” Elmore said. “They’ve always enjoyed being together, and that’s just an important aspect. Even through everything over the summer with things getting delayed and not knowing if we were going to get to play, I’ve been so pleased with how they’ve been leaders for us.”

Senior running back Izik Rector led Greenbrier offensively with 68 rushing yards on 16 carries, while Donaldson led Creek Wood with 97 passing yards.  

Creek Wood moves to 3-0 with the win and will host Harpeth next Friday, while Greenbrier falls to 1-1 and will continue region play as they travel to face Portland next week.

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