(SOUTHSIDER VOICE PHOTOS BY STEVE PAGE)
With four minutes to play in the first half of Friday’s Mid-State Conference battle with visiting Decatur Central, Greenwood had established what seemed to be a comfortable 28-7 lead.
In just 198 seconds, the advantage vanished.
Though the Woodmen battled back after intermission, they could not slow what turned into a Hawk juggernaut.
Decatur Central won the fourth quarter 21-0, and the game by a 63-42 margin.
The contest was contested on Greenwood’s new turf, which is two-tone gray except for the green end zones and a green “G” in the middle. One five-yard stretch is light gray, with the next five yards on dark gray, then back to light gray, then dark.
It became very dark for the Woodmen in the fateful few minutes of the second quarter.
First, DC running back N’Po Dodo burst around the left side for an 82-yard touchdown 3:53 before the half, halving the lead.
Then, facing fourth-and-2 from their own 19, the Woodmen elected to go for it, but the Hawks batted down quarterback Brock Riddle’s pass at the line of scrimmage.
“We felt pretty good at 28-7,” said Greenwood coach Justin Boser. “We made the decision to go for it. I just didn’t like my play call. I should have called a different play. I would still go for it; just with a different play.”
Two plays later, Dodo sprinted around left end. Ashton Vogel’s kick cut the lead to 28-21 with 1:53 to go.
The Hawks then stopped the Woodmen, forcing a punt. Mykul Campbell took advantage of a high snap to block the punt, with the Hawks recovering. Two plays later, quarterback Bo Polston passed 9 yards to Dodo, and the score was tied.
“We were down, and Mykul Campbell made that blocked punt. We were just going from there,” said Polston, who threw touchdown passes of 8, 20, 25 and 33 yards. “When our offense is running on all cylinders, we really get going. Our offensive line was great; thanks to them.”
So dispirited were the Woodmen that they finished the half by taking a knee and letting the clock run down to zero.
Still, the Woodmen appeared to recover in the third quarter, with the score tied at 35 and 42. But the Hawks gained control in the fourth frame.
“Senior quarterback Brock Riddle and a good group of wide receivers for the Woodmen made some big plays, especially in the first half,” noted DC coach Kyle Enright. “But the Hawks fought through adversity and rallied around one another to dominate the second half.”
Both teams dominated the scoreboard, putting up 105 points and 1,040 total yards. Polston and Riddle combined to throw 64 passes.
Riddle threw touchdown passes of 69, 44, 24, 18, 32 and 3 yards as he passed for 335 yards. Chase Monroe caught three of the TD tosses.
Polston completed 10 passes for 197 yards and four scores. Both kickers – DC’s Ashton Vogel and Greenwood’s Kyrin York -- were perfect on conversions.
In addition to his TD receptions, Dodo gained 168 yards and scored twice on just 11 carries. KC Berry gained 123 yards and scored once on six rushes. Campbell, the punt blocker, rushed two times for 88 yards, including a 67 yarder down the left sideline that pushed the Hawks to a 56-42 lead with 5:25 to play.
“The Hawks’ offense rolled to a season best 623 yards,” noted Enright. “None of these offensive numbers are possible without a dominant performance from the OL unit. Javian Jones, Alec Surber, Nate Calahan, Garrett Smith and Tyler Cooper paved the way all night and deserve all of the credit for the huge offensive night.”
Ditto for the fourth-quarter defense.
“The DL, led by MJ Campbell with 7 stops, stuffed the Woodmen in the run game, holding them to 85 yards on 35 attempts,” Enright said. “Stephen Oyatayo was a tackling machine and finished with 14 stops. Breydon LaFollette made 7 tackles and Jalyn Shanks had 6, while Brycen Bonawitt had a sack and a forced fumble, Mykul Campbell had a huge punt block and recovery and Aaron Davis chipped in with 5 tackles and a fumble recovery.
Boser concurred, saying, “Our ground game has been just an express. They did a good job to slow us down. They have a bigger defensive line than our offensive line.”
Decatur Central, 3-2 in the Mid-State and 5-2 overall, hosts Perry Meridian on Oct. 6. The Woodmen, 2-3 in the MSC and 4-3 overall, travel to Franklin.