By Ed Farrell
Herald Assistant Sports Editor
GREENVILLE — For the second straight season in the Greenville-Reynolds rivalry, the score 20-6 flashed on the end zone board. That prompted Reynolds High head football coach Josh Mull to flash back approximately 365 days.
“I had dejâ vú all over. With four-plus-minutes to go and it’s twenty to six, it was just like last year. ... You know, high school sports is a game of momentum ... ” Mull mused.
However there were no miraculous comebacks this season — not for Reynolds and not by necessity for Greenville, as was the case in 2012.
A balanced offense and stifling defense were keys, as Region 3-AA leader Greenville ground out a 20-6 win Friday night at Thiel College’s Alumni Stadium/Stoeber Field.
Reynolds parlayed the lone Trojans’ turnover into a 91-yard drive that narrowed its deficit to 13-6 with 9:11 remaining. However all 9-1-1 did was imbue Greenville with a sense of urgency.
A subsequent 11-play, 65-yard, 4-minute, 52-second series resulted in Nick Black’s 1-yard burst and Gage Gladysz’s PAT, effectively ending the evening’s drama.
“We’ve been in a lot of close games,” acknowledged Trojans’ taskmaster Brian Herrick. “I think the kids show a lot of character and I thought they did again (Friday) night. I thought that bounce-back drive in the fourth quarter was huge for us.”
Greenville (6-0, 8-0) seemingly was in command with a 13-0 margin at intermission. Matt and Andy Jones collaborated on a 65-yard, 1st-quarter touchdown toss on a 3rd-and-23 play, then Black bulled in from a yard out, culminating a 9-play, 83-yard, 3-minute, 45-second 2nd stanza series. Defensively, the Trojans throttled Reynolds, yielding only 37 total yards on 21 snaps.
The Raiders commenced the 2nd half by consuming the clock and driving from their own 34-yard line (following Dylan McDanel’s 19-yard kickoff return) to Greenville’s 30.
But on 3rd-and-6, Andy Jones jolted Mike Millero for a 3-yard loss, coercing a Raiders’ punt and preserving Greenville’s 2-score advantage.
“(Greenville’s defensive line) ‘walled’ down and I followed the ‘wall’ down, I hit their fullback (Ian Sapot), their blocker, and Millero was just right there,” Greenville grappler Andy Jones explained. “I wrapped him up and drove him back. Yeah, I was pretty pumped ... it was a big play,” Jones admitted.
The Trojans appeared primed for the kill shot on their initial 2nd-half offensive series. Matt Jones’ 3rd-and-8 pass to Tyler Fattman resulted in a blown coverage and missed tackle at the sideline, and the latter sprinted to Reynolds’ 16 to complete the 62-yard play.
Two plays later, though, Trevor Griswold forced a fumble and Levi Stoyer recovered at Reynolds’ 9-yard line.
The Raiders rolled 91 yards in 13 plays and approximately 6 minutes, culminating in Millero’s 6-yard TD off the left side. During the drive Greenville gave up 45 yards on 3 personal-foul penalties — 2 of which occurred on the same play when Millero was tackled at the sideline.
“The second one, there’s no need for the second one,” Herrick admitted. “I didn’t think the first one was a good call. We drove (Millero), and kids are gonna go out of bounds. I thought that was a bad call, but you’ve got to live with that, overcome that. But the second one ... we had three 15-yarders on that drive, so we helped them. And you just can’t do that.
“We talk about doing the little things every day, and we’ve gotten away from that. We need to get back at that,” Herrick emphasized.
Though the subsequent conversion kick was wide, Reynolds was within 13-6. But the Raiders’ rally lasted less than 5 minutes.
The ensuing kickoff sailed out of bounds, giving Greenville a short field from Reynolds’ 35. Matt Jones twice ran for drive-sustaining 1st downs — for 10 yards on 3rd-and-2 from Reynolds’ 37, then 2 yards on 2nd-and-1 from the Raiders’ 23. With Trey VanAken contributing a 9-yard reception and 5-yard run, interspersed with Fattman’s 20- and 8-yard runs, it ultimately became ... fade to Black.
On 3 consecutive snaps from the 8 Black bore into Reynolds’ interior, the latter from a yard out with 4:19 left.
In spite of several close calls Herrick has only enjoyed the journey — for the most part.
“I’m just enjoying it. This is a great group of kids. I enjoy the practices. ... We’ve just gotta eliminate some of these penalties. If we want to be the (Region 3) champ, we’ve gotta avoid the penalties.”
For Reynolds (2-4, 4-4), its playoff drought will continue one more year.
“It’s a live-and-learn kind’ve of a thing,” Mull mused. “I think we’ve had a lot of successes, but I think I have a lot to learn as a head coach. I think I expected more out of our kids, and I think our kids expected more, as well.
“They go out and fight hard. You don’t have a running back (Millero, who rushed for a game-high 89 yards) go for over a thousand yards, if you’re not doin’ something right.
“We’re doin’ a lot of things right, but the (Region 3) competition is tremendous,” Mull continued. “If you take a team like us and send us up north (Region 2), it’s not a contest. It’s a wonderful thing that’s just gonna make us better down the road.”
Notes: Zach Miller and Black sacked Reynolds’ QB Kegan Miller for losses of 5 and 7 yards, and Jacob Rickert harassed Miller into a fumble and 18-yard loss. ... Millero also pilfered a Matt Jones pass.
GREENVILLE 6 7 0 7 20
REYNOLDS 0 0 6 0 6
G — A.Jones, 65 pass from M.Jones (pass failed)
G — Black, 4 run (Gladysz kick)
R — Millero, 6 run (kick failed)
G — Black. 1 run (Gladysz kick)
13 First downs 12
154 Rushing yards 104
192 Passing yards 18
10-5-1 Att-comp-int 3-2-0
346 Total yards 122
2-1 Fumbles-lost 1-0
7-70 Penalties-yards lost 5-25
Rushing: GREENVILLE — Fattman 9-56, VanAken 11-37, Black 9-35, M.Jones 4-23, Nellis 2-3; REYNOLDS — Millero 24-89, Leipheimer 15-38, Sapot 4-3, Miller 7-(-26).
Passing: GREENVILLE — M.Jones 10-5-1, 192; REYNOLDS — Miller 3-2-0, 18.
Receiving: GREENVILLE — A.Jones 2-114, Fattman 1-62, VanAken 1-9, Houpt 1-7; REYNOLDS — Stoyer 2-18.