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Snider leads Parry McCluer's win on Giles' home turf

Snider leads Parry McCluer's win on Giles' home turf

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PEARISBURG — Two of Timesland’s winningest programs over the last four decades met for the first time since 1985 and engaged in a little old-school smash-mouth football on Friday night.

Junior running back John Snider rushed for 171 yards on 29 carries to lead Parry McCluer to a 14-6 win over Giles in a Region 1C semifinal at Stephen C. Ragsdale Field.

On a cold November night, few passes were thrown by either squad as the Fighting Blues’ power running game went head-to-head with the Spartans’ single wing attack.

“It was real physical. We prepared all week for them to be physical, and we just went out there and did one notch better than they did,” Snider said.

Snider actually set up Parry McCluer’s first score of the night with his foot. He also serves as the Fighting Blues’ kicker and after Parry McCluer (9-3) was stopped by the Giles defense at the Spartans’ 34 on the game’s opening drive, the junior pinned the home team down at its own 3 with a 31-yard punt.

On Giles’ first play from scrimmage, the snap from center was low and rolled past Gage Fleeman in the backfield all the way through the end zone for a safety to make it 2-0.

Another Spartan turnover later in the quarter set up the Blues’ next score when Fleeman’s pass was picked off by defensive back Jalen Mitchell at the PM 30. Mitchell returned the interception 36 yards into Spartan territory.

One play after the interception, Snider ran around the right end 34 yards for a touchdown. That increased the lead to 8-0 with 2:52 left in the first after Snider missed the extra point kick.

Giles (7-4) responded by moving 67 yards in 15 plays while taking nearly nine minutes off the clock. Fleeman capped off the possession with a 2-yard touchdown run at the 5:54 mark of the second quarter to make it 8-6 after a failed two-point conversion.

The score remained at 8-6 through halftime until Parry McCluer’s first drive of the second half. Then two consecutive pass plays proved to be a turning point in the contest.

On a fourth-and-goal from the Giles 11, PM quarterback Brenan Schley rolled right and hit Mitchell in front of the end zone — his lone catch of the night from his wide receiver position — to increase the Fighting Blues’ lead to 14-6 with 1:42 left in the third.

“We knew they were all up on the line scrimmage and it was a long yardage situation, so I thought I need to give them something different right here. I thought Jalen would have a chance. It was something we’ve been working on for a long time, but just haven’t decided to use it,” Parry McCluer head coach Jack Baker said of the fourth-down call.

The touchdown pass, however, almost didn’t happen. One play earlier, a Schley screen pass on third-and-goal was tipped at the line by Giles, and the Spartans’ Connor Price looked to make a diving interception. The officials, though, ruled that the ball had hit the ground and the catch was instead an incompletion. That kept Parry McCluer’s drive alive.

“Thing about it, we did have an interception. From what I saw we intercepted the ball and got underneath it. We intercepted the ball, but we didn’t get the call and that’s how it goes. That really disappointed me. That was a turning point in the ball game,” Giles head coach Jeff Williams said.

Giles had two possessions in the fourth quarter end in punts, with the last coming around the halfway mark . The Spartans would never have the ball again after the second punt, as the Fighting Blues used their running game to run out the remaining time.

“We were just trying to get as many first downs as we could and when we got it, we were so pumped,” Snider said .

One person impressed by Snider’s performance was the opposing head coach.

“He’s tough and he’s a good runner. He’s not flashy or anything, he just gets going forward and runs hard. He’s hard to bring down. You don’t see backs like that in high school anymore,” Williams said.

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