CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- There's no quarterback controversy at South Charleston, but the Black Eagles are back in a familiar and comfortable position.
"He took a lot of reps in practice this week, and it doesn't have anything to do with benching Jon or setting Jon down. Jon's our quarterback come Monday," SC Coach John Messinger said after freshman Kentre Grier rescued starter Jon Alexander and the Black Eagles (2-3) from a 17-0 deficit in the second half Friday night to direct a 20-17 comeback win over previously unbeaten Capital (3-1).
Grier enrolled at George Washington after eighth grade and participated with the Patriots in 7-on-7 competitions throughout the out-of-season coaching period before a Board of Education ruling returned him to his home district at SC. He played in mop-up duty in SC's 56-33 win over Riverside on Aug. 31, but what he showed Friday had Messinger wearing a smile not commonly seen since 2008.
That season, the Black Eagles used pass-friendly senior Marcel Brown and run-oriented sophomore Tyler Harris as a dual-threat quarterback tandem to win the first of consecutive Class AAA state championships.
"We just felt that given the situation, Jon got rattled," Messinger said. "Nothing was working for him. All week long, we knew we could run the triple (option) with (Grier).
"Every play he got a little more confidence. Maybe we've got a ninth-grade quarterback too, but you know what it does for us? It gives us two good quarterbacks, and boy, we haven't been in that situation for a while."
Grier ran for just 18 yards, but completed 7 of 10 passes for 148 yards and two touchdowns. He hit junior Kevin Forrest for a 20-yard score after fumbling the snap with 6:49 left in the game to cut Capital's lead to 17-14.
Then, with 1:07 left, he threaded a laser through the double coverage of Cougar defensive backs Jordan Kinney and James Richmond to find junior Marquel Hampton for a 36-yard touchdown that gave SC the lead for good.
"First, I was thinking, 'How am I gonna bring my team back?'" Grier said after the game. "Then, once I got in and completed my first pass I was, like, 'I can do this.'
"Now, we won the game. I don't know what to do."
Grier said SC offensive coordinator Donnie Mays told him to "throw it to Marquel" for SC's final score.
"I just threw it up, hoping and praying he was going to catch it," Grier said. "He ran as fast as he could, then came down with it."
Alexander, who has thrown for 794 yards this season, was 8-for-16 for 51 yards and an interception against Capital.
Cougars freshman quarterback Tyhree Pratt was 9-for-15 for 142 yards and a touchdown in suffering his first loss as a starter.
He threw second-half passes - both incompletions - before South Charleston took the lead.
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