Greenville outlasts Eufaula, claims region

Published 11:49 pm Friday, October 16, 2015

It was a kick that put the Greenville on the board, and it was ultimately a kick that sealed the deal as the Tigers held on to outlast the Eufaula Tigers 19-15 to claim the Class 5A Region 2 championship.

The eighth straight win on the season also marks the Tigers’ first 8-0 start in four years.

But the first half was a largely defense struggle, punctuated only by a huge 46-yard field goal from Antonio Alvarez to give Greenville a 3-0 lead at the half.

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The Greenville defense set the tone early in the second half, earning a stop and giving Brandon Simmons and the Greenville offense the go-ahead to strike first and take a 10-0 lead.

The lead grew to 17-3 as the showdown drew to a close, but the final eight minutes proved more eventful than all 40 that preceded it combined.

An excellent Greenville punt—courtesy of Joseph Price—was erased due to a controversial holding call, and the second attempt was blocked by Eufaula and taken to the 20-yard line.

Eufaula then punched it into the end zone for the first time of the night on a reverse and cut the lead to eight, but a blocked extra kick would keep it at eight.

Greenville took several minutes from the clock on the ensuing drive, but failed to add to its lead.  However, Joseph Price got his revenge for the previous blocked kick by pinning Eufaula deep with a drive starting at the one-yard line.

The Greenville defense followed up the one-two punch with a safety to secure another two-score lead.

But Eufaula wasn’t done, as the team caught the Greenville defense in a lull on a deep pass for a touchdown.

But a failed onside kick attempt sealed the deal as the Tigers held on to win 19-15.

Greenville head coach Josh McLendon said that the win was momentous for the Tigers not only for the playoff benefits, but also for the long-term effects it could have on his players’ confidence.

“It’s huge.  We knew this was going to be an extremely tough place to play, but our guys came out ready to play from the very beginning,” McLendon said.

“They’d been averaging 40 points a game, so for them to only score 15 means our defense played well.  I thought everybody played well. It’s a great win, and I’m real proud of our guys.”

McLendon said that winning in a hostile environment against adversity is exactly what it would take to go far in the postseason. But the season isn’t quite over, as the Tigers’ face their final region game of the season against Rehobeth Friday.

“Every game from now on keeps getting bigger and bigger,” McLendon said.

“We’re going to attack each week like we do no matter who it is.  The goal stays the same.  We’re going to enjoy this one this weekend, and we’re going to focus on Rehobeth on Sunday.”