Greenville defeats Park Crossing, 25-19, in OT

Published 1:13 am Saturday, August 27, 2022

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The first game of the Patrick Browning era in Greenville went a handful of plays beyond regulation on Friday night at Tiger Stadium.

The Class 5A Tigers overcame a slow start in the opening quarter, a mountain of penalties, and four turnovers to claw their way back and secure a 25-19 overtime victory over 6A Park Crossing in the first-ever meeting between the two schools in football.

“First of all, we obviously had a ton of mistakes in the first quarter,” Browning said. “I think we had some that we (attributed) to it being the first game, and some that we (attributed) to the fact that this is still a new offense and defense for the players. What I want to focus on, most importantly, is these kids were down at the half, they sucked it up, and they fought hard and never quit. They played four quarters like we asked them to do with maximum effort, and they came out with the win.”

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Greenville running back Ka’tyleon Phillips followed his offensive line and pushed through a pile of Thunderbird defenders for the go-ahead touchdown on a 3-yard run on the second play of his team’s overtime possession.

The 5-foot-11, 230-pound sophomore wore down the Thunderbird defense with a three-touchdown performance and 199 yards on 23 carries. Three running backs rotated in to give Phillips a rest during the contest: Jaiden Dunklin (nine carries, 28 yards), Ronald Davis (two carries, 8 yards), and Calderious Williams (two carries, 14 yards).

“It’s early, it’s hot, and they’ve got to get in game shape,” Browning said. “I think overall, when the offense was executing, doing what we had practiced, and what we had drawn up on the drawing board, they executed great. What stopped us more offensively was ourselves than anything, but hat’s off to Park Crossing. They played hard, they made plays, and they forced us to make mistakes at times. I think all our backs ran tremendously hard, and each one contributed what they needed to do for us to win.”

The Tigers’ defense recovered a Jadarrion Green fumble during the first play of Park Crossing’s overtime possession – the final play of the contest.

Park Crossing built up a 19-0 lead on Greenville with its first two touchdowns coming in the opening quarter.
Thunderbirds quarterback Chase Ford scored the first touchdown for his squad on a 23-yard bootleg run down the right sideline. The 2-point conversion attempt via the swinging gate formation failed.

After a Greenville fumble, Park Crossing junior Solomon Beebe punched in his first of two scores on a 3-yard run. Greenville again slammed the swinging gate shut to keep the score at 12-0.

Beebe’s second touchdown came early in the second stanza on an 11-yard TD run. A successful extra-point gave Park Crossing a 19-0 advantage.

Greenville’s offense lone pass attempt in the first half by quarterback Andre Davidson, a 49-yard bomb to wide receiver Zakarrie Scott down the right sideline, gave the team a much-needed touchdown with 9:09 to play in the half to cut the deficit to 19-6.

Five minutes later, the Tigers would score again on a 1-yard run by Phillips. Christian Hill made the extra-point try to close the gap to 19-13.

Greenville’s defense, a unit that allowed 195 yards rushing in the first half, shut down the Thunderbirds in the second half, limiting Park Crossing to 12 rushing yards and no trips to the end zone.

Phillips tied the game with a 3-yard touchdown run on a fourth-and-goal play with 9:59 to play in regulation. Hill’s extra-point attempt was blocked, leaving the score tied 19-all.

Browning said the extra point miscues – the blocked attempt and two aborted attempts that turned into rushes by Davidson, didn’t fall on the shoulders of any specific players or coaches.

“I’m not making excuses, but Dre had never had to hold before,” he said. “Our holder got hurt on something fluky in practice, so my hat’s off to him for stepping in. It wasn’t all the holds. (There were) some protection issues. We’re going to fix that.”

The teams combined for 33 penalties in the contest, including multiple warnings from Alabama High School Athletic Association officials, who strictly enforced sideline infractions for both teams.

“I think every ref early on is going to do the best job they can do to keep the game exactly how the federation wants them to,” Browning said. “As the season goes along, not only do coaches get better, players get better, and refs do, too. They’re human, and it’s not an easy job, what they do. I’ve got a ton of respect for them because they’ve got about as hard a job as anybody out here.”

Greenville (1-0) will travel to Troy to clash with 5A, Region 2 foe Charles Henderson on Friday.