Late miscues haunt Greenwood in 36-29 loss to Hopkinsville
The week before the playoffs is usually teeming with non-competitive games that can be dull at times, but that was certainly not the case with the Hopkinsville-Greenwood game on Friday night.
The Tigers and Gators remained toe-and-toe with each other the entire game, but Greenwood saw a late lead slip from its grasp due to some costly miscues as Hopkinsville escaped “The Swamp” with a 36-29 victory.
“We just shot ourselves in the foot a couple times,” Greenwood coach William Howard said. “We had two fumbles that really hurt us, and we had a holding penalty over there that kind of cost us. We thought we were in a position to milk the clock and kick a field goal or run a touchdown and not allow (Hopkinsville) much time on the clock.”
Greenwood jumped out to a 14-0 lead early before Hopkinsville rattled off 22 unanswered points to take the lead. The Tigers would trail again in the second half but rallied and came up with timely defensive stops to secure their third straight win.
“(Greenwood) ran an offense that they hadn’t run in two months,” Hopkinsville coach Craig Clayton said. “Unbalanced, lot of Wing-T principle. We just weren’t ready for it and we were down 14-0 before you could turn around. I thought our kids came back and showed great resilience by scoring the next 22, and then (Greenwood) scored the next 15 before we scored the last 14. But I was proud of the kids for the effort.”
Clayton had nothing but praise for a Greenwood team that has had some struggles in the midst of a five-game skid but still continues to compete.
“Greenwood is a pretty good football team. We watched them on tape, and I don’t think their record indicates some things that they can do. It was a tough game.”
The Gators (2-8) were led in the loss by Reed Slone. The junior caught four passes for 67 yards and a touchdown while rushing for 98 yards on six attempts—including a 47-yard touchdown run. Javier Boyd added 65 rushing yards on 16 attempts for the Greenwood.
The Tigers (4-6) had multiple players play a factor in the win, but quarterback Ellis Dunn was the one offensive player that stood out above everybody else.
“We came out (Greenwood) had 11 in the box, and it was hard to run,” Clayton said. “We finally completed some passes downfield, and once we got them backed up we could run the ball a lot more effectively. He ran the option very well. Ellis is just a warrior. I think if somebody was to take him and give him two years he could play quarterback in college…he was the best player on the field tonight, for sure.”
Dunn completed 5-of-11 passes for 138 yards, including a 71-yard touchdown pass to Reece Jesse that put the Tigers on the board. Dunn was also the Tigers’ leading rusher with 97 yards on 10 carries, and he had a pair of 20-plus yard runs on the drive that helped Hoptown extend its lead in the fourth quarter.
Greenwood quickly set the tone in the game early as the Gators posted the first numbers on the scoreboard with a 42-yard touchdown strike from John Morrison to Slone.
Hopkinsville went three-and-out on its opening drive, and Slone once again found pay dirt by running it into the end zone from 47 yards out to push the Gators’ lead to 14-0 at the 4:52 mark of the first quarter.
The Tigers answered the call with a 71-yard touchdown strike from Dunn to Jesse, and Dunn ran it in for the two-point conversion to whittle the Tigers’ deficit down to 14-8.
Greenwood proceeded to drive into Tiger territory on the ensuing possession, but Tiger junior Jevon Leavell intercepted Morrison’s deflected pass and took it 80 yards to the house to tie the game at 14-all.
The turnover bug hit the Gators once again on the kickoff as Hopkinsville recovered a fumble at the Greenwood 33-yard line. The Tigers drove down into the red zone before Dunn’s 4-yard rushing touchdown, and Jordan Hopson ran it in for the two-point conversion to give Hoptown a 22-14 with 8:40 left before halftime.
Greenwood bounced back to tie the game on a 10-yard touchdown run by Triston Wilson and a two-point conversion run by Boyd. The Gators converted two fourth downs on the scoring drive—one conversion coming on a fake punt pass from Zach Langevin to Will Price while the other was a pass interference penalty against the Tigers.
Hoptown had a chance to score before the intermission as the Tigers drove all the way down to the Gator 3-yard line, but Dunn was tackled for a loss before the Gators broke up three consecutive passes to the end zone as the Tigers turned it over on downs.
Hopkinsville went three-and-out on the opening drive of the second half, and a poor punt gave the Gators the ball at the Tiger 45-yard line. Greenwood then re-claimed the lead as senior Alex Rhodes powered his way into the end zone from three yards out to give the Gators a 29-22 advantage with 6:55 left in the third quarter.
Greenwood fumbled at the Tiger 25-yard line when it was trying to add some insurance early in the fourth quarter, and Hopkinsville made the Gators pay for that miscue by driving all the way down the field before a 1-yard touchdown run by Hopson and the ensuing two-point conversion gave the Tigers a 30-29 lead with 7:43 left in regulation.
The Gators drove into Tiger territory before Denarius Barns sacked Morrison on fourth down to give the ball back to Hoptown. JaTorian Dillard scored on a 39-yard touchdown run to give the Tigers a 36-29 lead with 2:17 remaining, and the Tiger defense forced the Gators to turn it over on downs to seal the victory.
Hopkinsville will look to keep its t winning streak going on the road at Warren East in the first round of the Class 4A playoffs while Greenwood will make the trek up to Owensboro to face the Red Devils in the first round of the Class 5A playoffs.
“We just want our kids to go out and compete,” Howard said. “Owensboro’s a great team. They’re going to go out and vie for a regional title, and we want our kids to go over there and compete against them. They have some tremendous athletes and they spread the ball around a lot, and if we can control the clock we can go over and do some good things.”
Hoptown 8 14 0 14 –36
Greenwood 14 8 7 0 –29
G-42 yd pass Morrison to Slone (Patterson kick)
G-47 yd run Slone (Patterson kick)
H-71 yd pass Dunn to Jesse (Dunn run)
H-80 yd interception return Leavell (run failed)
H-4 yd run Dunn (Hopson run)
G-10 yd run Wilson (Boyd run)
G-3 yd run Rhodes (Patterson kick)
H-1 yd run Hopson (Hopson run)
H-39 yd run Dillard (run failed)