The Green Waves turned the tide on the Blue Flames to capture the Sam Wyche Food Fight Bowl Trophy and bragging rights for the first time in the Bowl’s four year history.
“We’ve been chomping at the bit to get out here and to finally break that losing streak,” remarked quarterback Zach Lappin. “I know it was great for all the players and the coaches. We all worked hard and we are just all excited about it.” Coach Chad Smith echoed “This meant a lot to me. I know it meant a lot to some of my staff members and we needed this trophy back here”.
Easley (3-0) who appears to have their best team in decades, was led by Lappin’s 5 scores, a strong defense and outstanding special teams play.
“You just look at our offense, it sets up our defense and special teams,“ said Coach Smith. “This time last year we scored 31, 6,and 14 points and this year we scored 70, 22 and 54, so that’s a huge difference.”
The first big play of the game before a packed house at Brice field was a blocked punt by Easley’s Brandaun Addison on Pickens’s opening drive.
“They blocked the punt and good things happened for us as a result of that. Special teams are 1/3rd of the game !” beamed Coach Smith. 2 Plays later Lappin scores on a 25 yard quarterback keeper giving Easley a 6-0 lead.
Moments later, Quez Smith delivered a vicious blow on Picken’s quarterback Wes Davis causing a fumble that Easley’s Patrick Ledbetter returned for 47 yards for the 12-0 lead.
After holding Pickens on 4th and 1, Easley drove 45 yards in 6 plays as Lappin scored his 2nd touchdown on an 8 yard scamper to make it 19-0.
The Green Wave’s continued their domination as they closed out the 1st half scoring when Lappin just missed being sacked with 4 defenders on top of him and found Chris Connolly in the end zone for a 4 yard pass as time expired for a 26-0 lead.
On Picken’s initial possession of the 2nd half, the Easley’ defense holds and Zach Conn collects Easley’s 2nd blocked punt as JR Crawford scoops up the loose pigskin for a 37 yard touch down and a 33-0 advantage .
Easley again forces a punt and started on their 41 yard line. They score 2 plays later when Dee Gamble sprinted 50 yards to the end zone to make it 40-0 midway though the 3rd quarter.
Pickens finally gets on the board with 4:9 in the 3rd when Wes Davis tossed a 14-yard pass to Angus Anderson avoiding a shutout at 40-7.
Easley scored on the ensuing drive leading to a 1 yard plunge by Lappin, his 4th score of the game, extending the lead to 47-7. The big play of the drive was a 57 yard sprint by the senior quarterback. “ Zach Lappin’s a great football player,” remarked Coach Smith. “If I was a 1AA or D2 College in this area I’d be crazy not to try to sign that kid to a scholarship”.
Pickens was able to put together an 11 play drive with fullback David Mansell punching it in from the 1 yard line for a 47- 13 deficient.
Lappin closed out the Green Wave’s scoring with a 10 yard run to make it 54-13 with 5:55 remaining. Lappin rushed for 129 yards and 4 touchdowns and passed for another score finishing 5 for 8.
The Pickens fans that remained for the final minutes were rewarded when Davis scored the final points with 25 seconds on the clock as the Green Wave roll over the Blue Flame 54-20.
Easley’s defense was led by Zach Conn who’s 17 tackles and a blocked punt even surprised Coach Smith. “ That’s amazing, if Zach Conn was 6 ft tall he could go anywhere he wanted to, he’s a great defensive lineman”. Easley held Picken’s massive Mansell to 89 yards and 1 score on 25 carries. Jon Jon Whitten added 11 tackles and Quaven Ferguson had 10. Sam “The Enforcer” Houston, as always, added a strong presence in the middle. “The 2 blocked punts sparked a good momentum,” Lappin said. “Our defense played lights out like hey have all season and will continue to do so.” Coach Smith replied “I’m very proud of them. The defensive staff does a great job and until we subbed we really shut them down the whole night.”
In the last season to be played on the historic Brice Field and the first home game Easley’s supporters turned out in full force. Coach Smith commented “It’s awesome. But honestly I’ve been impressed with our crowds all year. If you’ve been to any of our games, we show up! That’s awesome, I couldn’t ask to be in a better place than Easley, South Carolina!”
The biggest victory of the night, however, was for the shut-ins served by Pickens County Meals on Wheels, as Pickens County students raised $60,000 for Meals on Wheels in the Food Fight Bowl. Each before the big game between Easley and Pickens, Pickens and Easley High School students compete to see which school can raise the most money for Pickens County Meals on Wheels.
This year students almost doubled the total funds raised for the three previous Food Fight Bowls combined.
For the first time in Food Fight Bowl history, the schools tied, each raising $30,000 for Meals on Wheels.
According to Pickens County Meals on Wheels, $60,000 can feed 53 seniors for an entire year.
Grasshopper Mowers, the main sponsor of this year’s Food Fight Bowl, stepped up to the plate for the fundraising effort this year, donating $4,500 to Pickens County Meals on Wheels. That money was divided equally between Easley and Pickens High schools for their fundraising effort. Grasshopper Mowers also donated a mower to each of the four county high schools.
Andrew Hendricks contributed to this story.