Bulldogs dispatch Bombers in state quarterfinals

Bulldogs dispatch Bombers in state quarterfinals

Greenwood 56, Mountain Home 14

After an open date in the first round of the 6A playoffs, the Greenwood Bulldogs returned to action last Friday night at Smith-Robinson Stadium, and their opponent was a familiar one. For the second time this season the Bulldogs faced the Mountain Home Bombers, fellow members of the 6A West. Greenwood won at Mountain Home (55-7) on September 8th to open league play, then authored another mercy-rule victory in their most recent meeting, 56-14.

The Bulldogs led 21-7 after two quarters before blowing the game open in the second half. But the home defense set the tone early by shutting down the Bombers’ offense on its first four possessions. Meanwhile, Greenwood scored on its first three offensive series until a muffed punt return gave the visitors a golden opportunity deep in home territory, halting the GHS momentum. The Bulldogs didn’t score over the last nine minutes of the first half.

Mountain Home received the opening kick, but a penalty erased a first down play and the GHS defense forced a quick punt, returned a short distance to the visitors’ 45-yard-line by senior L.J. Robins. Four snaps later the Bulldogs reached the end zone for the first time. Quarterback Kane Archer carried on first down to the 39 and on the next snap flipped a short pass to Isaiah Arrington for a nice gain, partially erased by a holding penalty back to the 42.

Archer then rolled to his right and lofted a nice touch pass down the GHS sideline to receiver Grant Karnes, who made a great leaping, twisting, two-handed catch at the 11 before falling to the turf. Another flip pass, this one to Karnes, reached the two-yard line before running back Brayedan Davis scored on the next play. Senior kicker Bodey Steinfeldt added the extra point for a 7-0 GHS lead at the 8:43 mark of the opening period.

Another defensive stand by the Bulldogs set up Greenwood’s next score, once again starting with a short field at the Mountain Home 48 after the second Bombers’ punt. Davis carried on first down to the 43, but the next snap resulted in a loss to the 45. Archer then threw to receiver Peyton Presson at the 31, the senior’s first catch of the season after being sidelined last fall with a shoulder injury. Two plays later Presson caught another pass for a short gain to the 25.

Davis then carried to the 20, moving the chains, before Isaiah Arrington caught an Archer delivery for a short gain to the 16. Davis then ran twice to the 10 for another first down, before the Bulldogs scored on the next snap. Archer rolled to his right, looking for an open receiver, before finding Presson, his third option, streaking across the end zone just ahead of a Bombers’ defender. Archer’s pass was on target, allowing his receiver to make the catch for the touchdown before being mobbed by his teammates. The extra point try was good by Steinfeldt, making the score 14-0 (3:51).

A penalty pushed the visitors back to their own 9-yard-line after the kick return, and another Mountain Home punt was downed at the Greenwood 29 late in the first quarter. A penalty moved the ball back to the 24 before Archer passed to Grant Karnes at the 33 then to L.J. Robins at the 38 before the period ended.

Brayedan Davis carried to the 43 on the first snap of the second quarter before Archer threw to Karnes at the Mountain Home 47. After a penalty pushed the Bulldogs back into their own territory, Archer completed three consecutive passes to Arrington, Karnes, and Robins to the Bombers’ 33 for a first down. After Davis ran to the 28, a Mountain Home penalty moved the ball to the 23 for another first down. Kane Archer then ran a QB draw around the left side all the way to the 1-yard-line before Davis carried in for the score. The extra point was good again for a 21-0 GHS lead (9:18).

That was all the Greenwood scoring in the first half, while the home defense kept up its fine work, forcing yet another Bombers’ punt. But the catch was fumbled, allowing the visitors to recover the ball at the home 10-yard-line. Two plays later the Bombers scored on a two-yard run, adding the extra point, trimming their halftime deficit to 21-7.

The Bulldogs had a chance to add to their lead late in the second quarter, driving to the Mountain Home 10-yard-line. But a QB sack and three consecutive incomplete passes ended the possession. Still, Greenwood received the opening kick of the second half and quickly added to its lead with a six-play 55-yard drive. The Bombers responded with a quick touchdown of their own, but it would be their last score as the Bulldogs piled on with four additional unanswered touchdowns, invoking the sportsmanship rule to get the clock moving in the fourth quarter.

A sky kick was fielded and returned a short distance to the GHS 45 by L.J. Robins. Brayedan Davis then carried for six yards to the Mountain Home 49, then again to the 42. Next, Kane Archer ran a draw play to the 34, but the series soon stalled, bringing up fourth-and-three at the 35. Moments later Archer completed a deep pass to Grant Karnes in the end zone for the score. The extra point was good by Bodey Steinfeldt, making the score 28-7 (10:52).

The visitors completed a long pass on their next possession, the play covering 36 yards to the GHS 4-yard-line. Mountain Home running back Chris Hubbard then scored his second touchdown of the game. The point after kick was good, making the score 28-14 (8:04). But that was it for the Bombers’ offense, which did not score again.

The Bulldogs then scored four consecutive touchdowns in short order to put the game away. The first score came very quickly after L.J. Robins returned the ensuing kickoff to the Greenwood 34. On the first snap, Brayedan Davis found a seam through the middle of the Bombers’ defense, racing 66 yards between the hash marks, outrunning a trio of pursuers to the end zone. Steinfeldt’s kick was good for a 35-14 GHS lead (7:46).

After forcing a quick Mountain Home punt, the Greenwood offense went back to work, covering 61 yards in just six plays, the biggest of which was a short pass to Isaiah Arrington, who turned it into a huge gain to the visitors’ 3-yard-line. The play covered 42 yards and set up the touchdown by Brayedan Davis on the next snap. The kick was good.

Trailing 42-14, Mountain Home soon punted again, getting a good roll to the GHS 28. But the Bulldogs still needed just four plays to score. On second down, Archer passed to Robins for a big gain to the Bombers’ 24-yard-line. After Davis rambled to the seven, Archer reconnected with Robins on a flip pass with the receiver cutting back inside for the touchdown. The extra point made it 49-14, invoking the mercy rule at the 2:34 mark of the third quarter.

With the outcome already decided, the Bombers gambled on their next possession, going for it on fourth down near midfield, but their pass attempt fell incomplete, giving Greenwood the ball at its own 45-yard-line early in the fourth quarter. With the clock running almost continuously, backup QB Cooper Goodwin led a six-play drive for the Bulldogs’ final score.

Running back Wesley Raggio ran twice on the drive for nine yards and Goodwin completed all three of his passes for 24 yards to receivers Braxton Davis, Hudson Meeker, and Laydn Cassanova. But it was Goodwin himself that carried in for the score from 22 yards out (6:07). Bodey Steinfeldt added his last PAT of the game, making the final score 56-14.

In his post-game comments, Greenwood Head Coach Chris Young talked about two special players, running back Brayedan Davis and receiver Peyton Presson, both seniors. Unofficially, Davis rushed for 203 yards with four touchdowns. Presson returned to live action for the first time since the middle of last season when he injured his collarbone, eventually requiring surgery and a longer than expected recovery period.

"He had a big night," said Young of Davis, a converted linebacker playing his senior season at running back. "He’s been amazing all year. He probably should have more touchdowns. Sometimes he gets us all the way down there and doesn't get in. But I'm proud of him. He is always ready and never complains. We are going to need him the next two weeks."

Davis played very little his sophomore and junior seasons, but has been a revelation this year at running back. He scored 19 touchdowns in his first seven games, but has been quiet in recent outings before Friday’s four touchdown performance. His 203 yards came on 18 carries with three short scoring runs at the goal line and another of 66 yards, showing off his speed.

Regarding Presson, the GHS head coach said, "Peyton catching that touchdown might've been my highlight of the year. He’s been working hard to get back for his senior year, [and] we have missed him. He played a big role for us in the first half." The Bulldogs’ tallest receiver at 6’2”, Presson just adds another reliable target for quarterback Kane Archer, giving Greenwood perhaps the best quartet of receivers in the state with Presson, Karnes, Robins, and Arrington.

Not completely happy with a 21-7 halftime lead, not scoring over the final nine minutes of the first half, Coach Young was pleased with how his team responded after the break. "I thought we got settled in at halftime," he said. "We got some things worked out and played 35-7 in the second half. I'm proud of the way we responded. It's tough when you go a week without playing because of a bye. But we got rolling in the second half."

Unofficially, Kane Archer finished the game completing 18 of 26 passes for 266 yards and three touchdowns. Grant Karnes had half-a-dozen catches for 105 yards and a touchdown, while L.J. Robins had five grabs for 66 yards and a score. Peyton Presson had four receptions for 41 yards in his return to action, including one for a touchdown. Isaiah Arrington also had four catches, including one for 42 yards to set up a touchdown.

The Bulldogs will next host the Bruins of Pulaski Academy the day after Thanksgiving in the state semifinals. The Bruins scored on the final play of the game last Friday to win at Marion, 27-26. Greenwood defeated P.A. on the road less than a month ago, winning 55-33, and both schools are part of the 6A West conference, which has three teams still playing Thanksgiving weekend. The other semifinal game features Little Rock Christian, the #2 seed from the 6A West, at Benton, the top seed from the 6A East.

Both semifinals’ winners will meet at War Memorial Stadium on Friday, December 1st, at 6:30 p.m. to decide the 6A state championship. Still unbeaten at 11-0, the Bulldogs have maintained their ranking as the #1 team in Class 6A throughout the season. MaxPreps Sports has Greenwood ranked #1 among all teams in the state, regardless of classification.

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