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Greenville cruises to 28-7 victory

The Greenville Tigers have lost a pair of close games to the Charles Henderson Trojans the past two years. Head coach Ben Blackmon’s first team fell 17-14 in 2007. His second, 24-19 last season.

But the Tigers left little doubt which team was ready to play in the season-opener on Friday night. Greenville claimed a 21-0 halftime lead and streaked to a 28-7 victory over the Trojans at Tiger Stadium.

In the words of Blackmon: monkey, be gone.

“It feels so good to finally get a win over them (CHHS),” said Blackmon. “Two years we’ve lost close games so it’s good to get that monkey off our backs.”

Greenville’s strategy was simple.

Spread the field.

And pound the football up the middle.

The Tigers opened the game with an 11-play, 65-yard drive that culminated in an 8-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Ryan Smith to wide receiver Deangelo Carter. Smith rolled left and threw a strike to Carter who cut inside the Trojans’ defender for the 7-0 lead with 6:10 remaining in the first quarter.

It was the lone pass of the drive and would likely not have occurred had a penalty not forced the Tigers into a third and eight situation at the goaline. Up until that point, Blackmon had been content to feed the Trojans a steady diet of runs by Smith and Cordez Peagler.

“We thought we had the advantage upfront, size-wise,” said Blackmon. “They had good speed on the outside, but after watching them on film we felt we could attack them running downhill.”

CHHS head football coach Hugh Fountain agreed.

“They just lined up and whipped our butts,” said Fountain. “They physically beat us. We didn’t look like a tough team out there tonight. We didn’t play our game and we didn’t overcome adversity in the first half. That hurt us.”

A 52-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Mikwese Claybourne was wiped out because of an illegal procedure penalty, but it didn’t matter: the Tigers scored again on the same possession, as Smith led the team on a 61-yard, 11-play drive that ended with his nine-yard touchdown run. A 15-yard Fernandez Grey carry late in the second quarter, set up Smith’s next touchdown run as the senior quarterback pounded the ball in from the four-yard-line.

While the Tigers’ offensive numbers weren’t eye-popping, (258 total yards), the Greenville defense made sure the Trojans’ offense stayed in neutral the entire night. The Trojans had zero first downs in the first half.

“I can’t say enough about our defense, especially those seniors and our defensive staff,” said Blackmon.

Charles Henderson was able get on the scoreboard in the fourth quarter as quarterback K.D. Edenfield found Jawara White for a 31-yard gain to the Tigers two-yard line. Edenfield scored from there, cutting the Tigers lead to 21-7.

Back came the Tigers, with Peagler slicing in for a 14-yard touchdown run with 2:46 left in the game.

Greenville (1-0) travels to play Carver-Montgomery on Thursday night in Crampton Bowl.