By BRAD STEPHENS firstname.lastname@example.org
Facing highly touted Warren East running back Willie Reynolds, it was Greenwood that racked up the rushing yards Friday night.
The Gators ran for 342 yards as a team and GHS rolled to a 42-12 win on the road at Jim Ross Field.
Senior running back Noah Pillow ran for a team-high 107 yards on just 11 carries as GHS opened its season with a win for the first time since 2012.
The Gators followed coach Chris Seabolt’s charge to play physical and take the fight to the Raiders, Pillow said.
“Coach told us all week that if we get off the ball and hit them as much as we can and as hard as we can then they’ll lay down,” Pillow said. “Coach was dead right.”
Defensively, Greenwood held Reynolds to 23 first-half rushing yards in building a 28-0 halftime lead.
Reynolds ended the night with 99 yards on 18 carries, a 5.5 yard per carry average, but still a number Seabolt said he was fine with.
“I was tickled to death with the way we handled Willie,” he said. “Willie, it’s between him and (Bowling Green’s) Jamale Carothers in the western part of the state as far as the best backs.
“Our radio guy just told me he rushed for 99 yards. If you had told me that prior to the game beginning, I don’t know that I would have believed you.
“He’s definitely got a gear that we don’t have in terms of speed, but our guys did a great job playing assignment football, doing what they’re coached to do.”
The Gators spoiled the debut of new East coach Justin Chaffin, their former defensive coordinator.
“I feel like, especially in the first quarter and a half, that they just simply lined up and knocked us off the ball on both sides,” Chaffin said. “Our kids did not respond very well.”
Greenwood dominated the first half from the beginning.
The Gators recovered a short opening kickoff at their 44-yard line and marched 10 plays down the field.
Sophomore quarterback Jackson Adams capped the drive with a 4-yard sneak up the middle and into the end zone. Tanner South’s extra point made the GHS lead 7-0 with 8:14 left in the first quarter.
Warren East advanced to the Gators’ 40 on its first possession but turned the ball over on downs.
Adams struck again, this time keeping the ball on a third-and-12 option and sprinting 40 yards untouched for a touchdown to make it 14-0 with 3:01 to play in the opening quarter.
“Overall, I thought we did a great job getting off the football, which is what we’ve got to do to win ballgames,” Seabolt said. “We’ve got to get off the football and knock people off the ball.”
Greenwood made its lead 21-0 on its second drive of the second quarter.
The Gators took over at their own 21 and advanced to the Raiders’ 40-yard line in four plays.
After an East personal foul gave GHS an additional 15 yards to the 25, junior Malcolm Johnson took a toss 25 yards for another Gators score.
Johnson broke a tackle on the 10-yard line on his way to making Greenwood’s cushion three touchdowns with 2:59 left in the second.
The Raiders gave the ball away on a three-and-out on their next trip, giving the Gators the ball at the Warren East 42 with 2:09 to play in the half.
GHS marched at will once again. Pillow finished this drive with a 3-yard touchdown plunge that came with just 36.6 seconds remaining before the half.
South’s fourth extra point of the half made the Gator lead 28-0.
“If you look at the stats, we had four or five people score tonight,” Pillow said. “We set up plays for everyone, and if you break tackles, you make big plays. We get bodies on bodies and we open up holes.”
Aaron Smith became the fourth GHS ballcarrier to score on the Gators’ first drive of the second half.
The senior fullback ran in for a 9-yard score with 8:26 left in the third quarter. A South PAT made it a 35-0 game, one point short of a running clock.
The Raiders finals got on the board on the game’s next series.
Reynolds ran 7 yards from his 45 to Greenwood’s 48-yard line, then 12 more yards to the 36.
Reynolds then ripped off an electric 36-yard TD run, cutting and juking through the Gator defense.
His first touchdown of the year made the score 35-6 with 6:59 remaining in the third.
Warren East added another score early in the fourth quarter.
Facing a fourth-and-6 at the GHS 18-yard line, Raider quarterback Patrick Satterfield lofted the ball into the end zone in the direction of East receiver Jeremiah Huskey.
Huskey leapt, grabbed the ball, juggled and came up with the touchdown catch as he fell to the ground. His TD made it a 35-12 game with 9:24 remaining.
“Actually I thought he managed the game really well,” Chaffin said of Satterfield, who finished with 77 yards on 8-of-16 passing and 79 yards on 17 carries. “He took care of the football.
“He made a couple of throws. He did that with people in his face quite a bit, so I was pleased with him.
The WEHS onside kick went out of bounds at the Raider 43, giving the Gators good field position.
Pillow ran 37 yards on a toss down to the Raider 6-yard line. Three plays later Adams crashed in on a QB sneak for his third touchdown of the game.
That gave Warren East a 42-12 lead with 7:35 left to play.
“We beat a good team,” Pillow said. “They’re physical but we came out and played our hardest and set a tone for the rest of the year.”
GHS – 14 14 7 7 – 42
WEHS – 0 0 6 6 – 12
GW – Adams 4 run (South kick), 8:14
GW – Adams 40 run (South kick), 3:01
GW – Johnson 25 run (South kick), 2:59
GW – Pillow 3 run (South kick), :37
GW – Smith 9 run (South kick), 8:26
WE – Reynolds 36 run (kick failed), 6:59
WE – Satterfield 18 pass to Huskey (conversion failed), 4:24
GW – Adams 1 run (South kick), 7:35