It’s over: Greenfield puts end to long losing skid

It’s over: Greenfield puts end to long losing skid

Posted: Wednesday, September 26, 2012 1:01 pm

By ALLISON JONES
Special to The Press
It’s been a long time since Greenfield had much to cheer about.
The Yellowjackets were on a 15-game losing streak going into Friday night’s game against Bruceton, but a few big plays, and a little luck, gave Greenfield a 25-21 win over the Tigers.
The win was the first not just for first-year head coach Don Pitt but also for most of the players on his young team.
“I was glad to see the way they reacted,” he said.  “It takes a lot to get that out of them, and we got it out of them tonight.”
The ’Jackets utilized a balanced rushing and passing attack in the win with 308 yards of total offense, 179 of which came on the ground. Junior Austin Pence led the running attack with 176 yards on 22 carries.
Pence set the tempo on the first play from scrimmage as he took off for a 12-yard gain to the Bruceton 45-yard-line.
On the next play, junior quarterback Jeffrey Johnson called his own number, going 45 yards for the Greenfield touchdown.  But a failed kick by senior Zach Grebe left the Yellowjacket lead at 6-0.
But Bruceton would answer on their following possession. Junior quarterback Colin Roberts connected with Trezden Tharpe for a 40-yard touchdown pass, followed by a Kaelin Willis extra point, giving the Tigers a 7-6 lead.
About three-and-a-half minutes later, a big blow came to the Greenfield sideline.
Johnson was ejected from the game as a result of a personal foul penalty, putting the offense in the hands of freshman John David Ricketts.
Pence and the running game took a lot of pressure off of Ricketts, but the Tiger defense was able to get to him on the last play of the first quarter for a six-yard sack.
The freshman would not be rattled, though. On the first play of the second quarter, Ricketts connected with sophomore Miles Cavitt for a 33-yard touchdown, giving the ’Jackets the lead back and igniting the sidelines.
The Bruceton running attack dominated on the following drive, putting together a 12-play, 65-yard drive capped off with a one-yard touchdown run by Roberts. A two-point conversion carry by Reese Broomfield gave the Tigers a 15-13 lead.
But the ’Jacket offense refused to quit. With 44 seconds remaining in the half, Ricketts lofted a pass over the fingertips of a Tiger defender and right to a wide-open Zachary Lewis, who took it 36 yards to paydirt.
Bruceton’s attempt to retake the lead was cut short when Cavitt intercepted Roberts to take the Jackett’s 19-15 lead into the half.
The Tiger offense struck first in the second half after a 72-yard drive to take the lead back but, on the resulting PAT attempt, Dakota Goodman pushed through the line to block Willis’ kick, leaving the Tiger lead at 21-19.
The first possession of the 4th quarter required a little bit of luck from the young Yellowjackets’ offense.
On third-and-four, a bad snap sailed over Ricketts’s head, but he was able to get a fingertip on it and tip the ball to Pence, who carried the ball nine yards for a Greenfield first down.
Ricketts connected with sophomore Tanner Smithson on the next play for a 38-yard touchdown, his third touchdown pass of the game.
He finished the game 6-for-6 for 130 yards.
Pitt said they’ve been preparing Ricketts for this type of situation since the off-season.
“I’ve known since back in the spring (Ricketts would get playing time,)” Pitt said. “I didn’t know it was going to happen tonight, but I knew it was something coming real soon.”
The defense picked up right where the offense left off, forcing a three-and-out from the Tiger offense.
After a three-and-out by the offense, it looked like it would be on the defense to secure the win, but it was the Greenfield special teams that came up with a big play.
On the resulting punt, Bruceton’s Willis was hit and lost the football, which was then picked up by Lewis on the Tiger 44-yard-line. 
The offense drove down to the seven, but penalties and a couple of tackles in the backfield put the ball back with the Tiger offense at its own 20 with less than one minute to go in the game.
A pair of 22-yard pass from Roberts to Rekiyas McCauley and Tharpe put the Tigers on the Greenfield 36-yard line with 2 seconds remaining.
Roberts stepped back and launched the ball to the goal line to a waiting Cavitt, who intercepted the pass at the goal line, securing the win for the ’Jackets and breaking the 15-game losing streak.
All season Pitt said he’s been pushing the motto “believe while others doubt,” and the coach said that’s exactly what his team did.
“We’ve been talking about playing four quarters and we did that tonight,” Pitt said.  “I told (the players after the game) that this is going to have to be a building block. We’ve got to move upwards after this and not take any back slides.”
Greenfield will look to start a winning streak when it travels to South Fulton next Friday for a District 14A game. Published in The WCP 9.25.12

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