Greenbrier head football coach John Elmore couldn’t find much wrong with his team’s defensive performance against Lawrence County.
Three-star defensive lineman and Tennessee commitment Nathan Robinson couldn’t either.
Compared to a 35-0 season-opening loss to Springfield three weeks ago, could you blame them? The Bobcats (2-2, 2-0 Region 5-4A) knocked off previously undefeated Lawrence County with a convincing 22-0 win on Friday.
Alongside the shutout, Greenbrier’s defense forced seven punts while allowing 22 total yards and two first downs.
“I’m sure there was stuff that we could do better, but when you have nine people getting to the ball every time, one person doing something wrong off to the side is not that big of an impact,” Robinson said.
“Tonight was probably as good of a defensive performance we’ve had in several, several years,” Elmore added. “I’m very pleased with that.”
After putting up 1,099 rushing yards and an average of 44 points per game as a team through the first three weeks, Lawrence County (3-1, 1-1) posted just 17 rushing yards Friday.
Robinson, a 6-foot-5 lineman who’s rated by the 247Sports Composite as the No. 16 senior in the state, was everywhere in leading Greenbrier’s defensive effort.
He said he’s seen a difference in the defense since region play began for the Bobcats. Greenbrier dropped its first two games of the season – pairing a 35-point loss to Springfield with a 20-18 defeat at White House – but have since outscored region opponents 70-13.
Last week's allowed scores at Glencliff came with the Bobcats ahead 40-0 in the first half.
“It definitely didn’t help starting out with the competition we did,” said Robinson, who brought his tackle total to 30 on the season after the win. “But against Lawrence County, that’s a really good football team. We were able to come out and stay disciplined. They run a Wing-T (offense), and that’s all you can do against them. We got the job done.”
Nolan Carson, DJ Jackson, Eli Lawson and Mack Scurlock were other players who came through on defense against the Wildcats, combining for a slew of sacks and negative plays.
Elmore said his team hasn’t done anything different over the past two weeks schematically; it was just a matter of gaining experience from two non-region powerhouses and executing as the season progresses.
Taking the lead seven seconds into Friday’s game helped, too. Greenbrier recovered a deep opening kickoff to take possession inside Lawrence County’s red zone, and Dalton Wilbur scored on the first play from scrimmage to put Greenbrier ahead 6-0.
“That kind of set a tone for the rest of the game,” Elmore said. “We’ve been on that end of it as well, where stuff just happens immediately and you’re fighting the rest of the night trying to overcome that.”
The Bobcats added touchdowns in the second and fourth quarters, but Lawrence County’s defense also gave Greenbrier trouble by taking away the outside run game. Their lead was within two-possessions until Braxton Laney’s 12-yard scamper with 11 minutes remaining.
Friday’s outcome may have played out differently if not for Robinson and Greenbrier’s defense. Lawrence County picked up its inaugural first down with 9:47 left in the first half, and it wasn’t until the final minute of the game when the Wildcats picked up another.
“Especially with our offense still growing and learning… The defense being able to hold its own while this offense is having some growing pains is really impressive,” Robinson said.
The win kept Greenbrier perfect in region play entering the bye week. It’s the school’s first 2-0 start in region since their last trip to the postseason in 2017.
Elmore reminded his players to stay humble after the game, but the defensive effort gave Robinson reason to be confident about the remainder of the schedule.
“Montgomery Central was the team that shocked everybody last year, and Lawrence County came out and stomped them 35-0 (last week),” he said.
“Until Pearl-Cohn, we could go undefeated this month. The games I’ve watched of Pearl-Cohn – MBA, Cane Ridge – and with as close as we played them last year, there’s no reason we can’t go out and give them a good fight.”
Greenbrier 22, Lawrence County 0
G 6, 3, 6, 7 – 22
L 0, 0, 0, 0 – 0
G – Dalton Wilbur 18-yard run (11:53). Warren Bailey kick no good.
G – Warren Bailey 26-yard field goal (11:05).
G – Nolan Carson 6-yard pass to Nate Castleman (0:14). PAT failed.
G – Braxton Laney 12-yard run (11:15). Warren Bailey kick.