Not even close

Published 12:03 am Saturday, October 3, 2009

The fourth-ranked Greenville Tigers were surgically precise on offense at home Friday night, carving up the Wilcox-Central Jaguars for a 55-0 victory and improving to 6-0 on the season.

More importantly to Tigers’ head coach Ben Blackmon is Greenville’s 4-0 record in Class 5A, Region 3. With only region opponents Demopolis and Chilton County remaining on the schedule, the Tigers could be on the cusp of its first regional championship since 1997.

“This was an important game because it gets us one step closer to that goal,” said Blackmon.

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And, at season’s end, bigger games possibly await in the Class 5A state playoffs.

But Friday’s contest wasn’t one of them.

Greenville scored on its first play from scrimmage as wide receiver Mikwese Claybourne took a simple dump pass from quarterback Ryan Smith 56 yards for a touchdown. 18 seconds had ticked off the clock and Greenville already led 7-0.

On the Tigers next two ensuing offensive possessions they ran a total of four plays; two of those plays went for touchdowns

After a bad punt by Wilcox-Central that set the Tigers up at the Jaguars’ 26-yard line, Smith scored on a 14-yard run. On the next series, Jamal Hamilton took the handoff on a sweep play and ran 27 yards for a score.

The Jaguars, operating mainly out of a loaded backfield on offense, could barely budge the Tigers’ defense. Then, a miscue: A fumbled handoff resulted in the next Greenville score as Cordez Peagler picked up the loose ball and ran 22 yards for the touchdown.

The Tigers were up 27-0 at that point. And the game was going the way Blackmon expected. Wilcox-Central, winless coming into Friday’s game, had been outscored by their opponents 208-21.

“I was glad to see we came out with some intensity, though,” said Blackmon. “It’s like I told our guys on Monday, it’s not the performer, it’s the performance. I told them to come out and play like they enjoyed the game of football and they did that.”

The Tigers’ previous four touchdowns had come on a short field, but Smith led the Tigers 66 yards on eight plays and connected with a Darius Watson for an eight-yard touchdown pass. He then hit Michael Watts in stride for a 30-yard touchdown pass 46 seconds before halftime and Greenville led 41-0 at the break.

“Our first team got in there and executed and we were able to get them out in the second half and avoid any injuries,” said Blackmon.

An interception by Greenville’s Terrance Thompson set up the second-string offense’s first score. Deandre Savage scored from seven yards and relief quarterback Kent Riley added the two-point conversion.

Riley then led the Tigers on a 98-yard drive before the end of the game, highlighted by his 54 yard scoring run with 1:34 left.