The Allen County-Scottsville Patriot football team turned to an old friend Saturday afternoon to help record their third consecutive win. The friend is named Shutdown Defense and the result was an impressive 26-23 come-from-behind win over Greenwood---a Gator team that began the season ranked among the top 10 5-A football teams in the state.
“At halftime I told Tyler (defensive coordinator Tyler Berry) that we had to fix it (our defense),” coach Brad Hood said. “I may a few suggestions; he made a lot of changes. I told the kids that you have to get one stop, If you get one stop you will get two, If you get two you will get three, if you get three, we’ll win the game.”
The Patriots did just that on the blue, Boise State like field at Warren East. Delayed a day and switched due to the heavy rains from the leftover effects of Hurricane Harvey, the AC-S defense became the story of the game.
In the first half, the Gators ran 40 plays---all but two running plays. Greenwood put together touchdown-scoring drives of 72, 65, and 69 yards. Their last possession was a 13-pla, 64 yard march that resulted in a 20-yard field goal just before halftime---a field goal that lifted the Gators to a 23-12 lead.
AC-S used their old friend and got the job done in the second 24 minutes. After allowing Greenwood’s run-oriented offense to rack up 280 yards in the first 24 minutes, the clampdown on defense turned the tables. As Hood predicted, AC-S started stopping the ball. Greenwood ran 23 plays in the last two quarters and could only manage 61 yards----59 yards on the ground and two yards in the air.
Making it more impressive was that AC-S completed the comeback despite the absence of senior lineman Steven Whitney---the team’s leading tackler coming into Saturday. Whitney went out with a shoulder injury, forcing other players to step up their games.
“When Steven went down we were kind of cultured-shocked,” Hood admitted. “We had Patrick Wade and Derik Vargas out there and they are kind of like freshman in terms of their experience. I then looked at Rookstool (freshman Dillon Rookstool) and told him that he had to grow up fast, that he had to be a man right now. I looked at Derek and he said this is done and that we have this.”
With Vargas, Wade, and Rookstool doing their part, the AC-S defense went to work. Seniors Aaron Borth and Phillip Kinslow was in on 13 tackles each while senior Brock Meador finished the game with a season-high 12 tackles. Meador, Rookstool, Kinslow, and Sheldon Peay came up with tackles for loss yardage to help the defense stop the Gators.
While the defense was stopping the Greenwood offense, AC-S also benefited from a series of Gator special team mistakes. The first would come early in the third. After AC-S went three-and-out on their first possession of the third frame, the gators muffed the punt return. Borth pounced on the loose ball giving AC-S possession at the Greenwood 44 yard line. The Patriots marched to the Gator 26 before AC-S quarterback was picked off in the end zone---only his third INT of the season.
The result was Greenwood starting at their own 20. The defense rose to the challenge forcing the Gators to punt for the first time in the game. On the play, the Greenwood punter’s knee touched the ground as he received the snap from center---a situation that stops the play.
The miscue gave AC-S the ball at the Greenwood 22-yard line. Offensive coordinator Cory Cooper put the ball in the hands of junior tailback Kelly Weger. The speedy 5’7” runner sliced to his left, alluded a tackler, raced to the sideline and into the end zone for his first varsity touchdown.
“Kelly was our spark plug,” coach Hood added. “I told him that they would be a moment when I would call on him. He scored and then got the two point conversion.”
The score and the improving play of the defense set the tone the rest of the way.
“Coach Berry made adjustments, coach Bewley changed some things on the defense line and our kids started playing,” coach Hood noted. “After that first stop, you could see our chests sticking out. After that second stop, you could see the confidence growing. After that they would have stopped an airplane coming through the holes. We got our confidence.”
The Patriot defense lifted an offense that, in Hood’s words, was “ugly” at times.
“Yet, we made plays when we needed to.” Hood said.
In the first half, Patriot quarterback Chase Wilson led AC-S on an eight-play, 84 yard rive. Wilson hooked up with Jacob Lightfoot for a 26-yard scoring play to pull AC-S even at seven at the 3:55 mark of the first quarter. After Greenwood built a two touchdown lead in the second period, the Patriots answered with a 12-play, 73-yard drive---capped off as Wilson threw his 13th touchdown pass of the year. Lightfoot made the scoring reception, pulling AC-S to within a touchdown and two-point conversion, 20-12.
However, the Gators were able to contain Wilson and Lightfoot in the second half---except for a 60-yard play late in the third. The play left AC-S with a first down and goal but a bad snap, a sack, and a short gain on their down led to AC-S giving Greenwood the ball back on downs at the 10:51 mark of the fourth period.
AC-S’s defense rose to the challenge---leading the Gators’ fourth punt of the game. AC-S defensive back Cayden Ross fielded the ball at the gators 38-yard line, darted to his left, got behind the wall built by his teammates, cut to the AC-S sideline and raced around the corner for a score. His return at the 8;59 mark of the fourth period lifted AC-S to a 26-23 lead.
“I asked coach (Adam) Turley to give us something on punt return that would score,” coach hood said. “He came up with a play that built a wall. Cayden got the ball and he was off. We work on special teams all the time and sometimes they are so lovely.”
Greenwood answered with their longest play of the second half---a 33-yard run by quarterback Jackson Adams that moved the pigskin to the AC-S 25. However, the defense held the Gators. A key stop by Rookstool and a break-up by Carson Taylor on a fourth down pass enabled AC-S to retain the lead.
The Patriots followed with an eight-play drive---a drive that did not lead to a score but took three minutes off the clock. The defense made one last stand and stop with the Patriot offense retaining possession at the 1:44 mark to run out the clock.
“Our offense spurted at times but they never gave up,” Hood admitted.
Wilson finished 16 of 28 for 266 yards with Lightfoot catching four passes for 146 yards. Ross also had five receptions for 73 yards.
Hood sees the win as a confidence-building moment for his team.
“We won the first two games we were supposed to win to go 2-0 but there were still a lot of people doubting us,” Hood said. “We went and beat a Greenwood team that has good players and was averaging 450 yards rushing a game. Alot of people thought Greenwood would come out and take it to us. I told our kids that we had to absorb whatever they had and then punch back. I couldn’t be more proud of the team and coaching effort.”
AC-S (3-0) entertains Glasgow (3-0) Friday night. Hood hopes to see the stands filled.
“Patriot Stadium needs to be rocking,” Hood said. “It’s been a while. Last week (verses Barren County) was fun but we need to make it unbelievable and unbearable for Glasgow. Come out and support these boys.”
Kickoff will be at 7 Friday.