Down goes Demopolis
Published 12:00 am Sunday, November 12, 2006
It took 10 regular season games and one playoff game, but the Greenville Tigers finally turned last season's nine losses into nine wins Friday night with a thrilling 19-7 win over Demopolis in the first round of the Class 5A playoffs.
“We were going to get that ninth win some way or another,” Greenville head coach Bryant Vincent told his team following Friday night's win.
The Tigers got things rolling early starting with Marcus Long's 34-yard kickoff return that set Greenville up nicely for the first offensive series.
With 6:10 left in the first quarter, junior quarterback Casey Weston took the ball in from one-yard out to cap a 12-play drive and give the Tigers a 7-0 after the extra point.
Demopolis, determined not get down early, answered the Greenville drive with a drive of their own.
Anthony Wilson got things going with a 31-yard run to set the Tigers up with good field position and then capped the drive with a one-yard touchdown run.
Demopolis would not score again.
“We were in man coverage and got on our heels a bit and we were just back peddling so we went to a cover-3,” Greenville defensive coordinator Ernest Hill said. “After that, we just worked to get off blocks, something we worked hard on in practice all week.”
“I'm just proud of these guys and I guess they just wanted it more than Demopolis,” he added.
After trading possessions in the second quarter, sophomore Jamontay Pilson delivered a crushing blow, forcing a fumble that Akeva Owens scooped up and raced 31 yards with into the Tiger red zone.
“I thought I was going to score,” Owens said with a smile. “(Our defense has) just worked hard, done extra running and watched film to get where we are at.”
With nine minutes remaining in the half, running back Brandon Cheatham sprinted 10 yards for the Greenville score, giving the Tigers a 13-7 lead after the Weston extra point sailed wide left.
After trading possessions once again, the Tiger offense got the ball back with 1:10 to go in the half and drove down into the Demopolis red zone before the drive stalled.
With five seconds remaining in the half, Greenville set up for a field goal but faked it when Lynn Lewis took the end around snap and delivered a 12-yard pass to Cheatham in the end zone for the score, giving the Tigers 19-7 lead at the half.
In the second half, both Tiger teams held the other on fourth-down plays and traded possessions, but it was a Weston punt that was downed inside the one-yard with 4:11 to go in the game that all but sealed the deal and first round win for Greenville after the Tiger defense held strong once again.
After accomplishing yet another one of his preseason goals, Vincent said this team's success has included three ingredients: support from the administration, a great coaching staff and players who are willing to come to work everyday.
“I'm kind of at a loss for words,” Vincent said. “This win is just huge for our town, our community, our program and our school.”
Leading the Greenville offense was Cheatham with 107 yards on 17 carries and touchdown, including three catches for 20 yards and a touchdown. Weston finished with 25 yards on 16 carries and a touchdown, giving him 18 rushing touchdowns on the year.
Vincent said the Tigers' running success Friday and all season has started up front.
“Let's talk about our offensive line,” Vincent said. “They've really been our strength and Coach (Mathew) Wells has done a phenomenal job with that group.”
On the defensive side of the ball, the Tigers held Demopolis to just 75 total yards. Senior Kelcius Pate led the Tiger defense with 10 tackles, two quarterback hurries and a sack. Robert Phifer had seven tackles, two fumble recoveries and Lynn Lewis had six tackles and one forced fumble.
Greenville will travel to Pleasant Grove Friday night for the second round of the Class 5A playoffs. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.