After a rare open week not caused by the Covid-19 outbreak, the Greenwood Junior High Bulldogs added to their impressive 2020 season record with a dominating performance over the Fort Smith Ramsey Rams last Thursday night. Leading 27-0 at halftime, the freshmen ‘Dogs added a third quarter touchdown for a 35-0 mercy rule win.
The River Valley Conference game was played at Southside High School’s Jim Rowland Stadium as Greenwood improved to 5-0 in league play with three games remaining against Fort Smith Darby, Alma, and Harrison. Only the season finale against Harrison on November 5th will be played at Greenwood’s Smith-Robinson Stadium.
Asked to comment on his team’s play last week, Head Coach Shannon Rhea said, “I thought we played a complete game. All units played well. We had touchdowns from five different players and [quarterback] Slade Dean was something like 20 out of 21 [passing]. We [also] had good coverage on our kick-off team, which pinned Ramsey back on their drives.
“Our defense played really well against a pretty good running back. I thought our defense was really aggressive all night. Cameron Green and Brady Pettigrew played well on the line. Linebackers Brady Mackey and Eli Whitaker did a good job making open field tackles against [Ramsey’s] running back who ran hard,” said Rhea.
Greenwood’s highly efficient offense scored on all four of its first half possessions, while their defensive teammates limited the Rams to just a handful of first downs, forcing three punts. Ramsey drove into Greenwood territory late in the half, but ran out of time and downs at the 20-yard-line as the clock ticked down to zero.
A short kick return put Greenwood at its own 40 to start the game. Slade Dean then came out firing, throwing passes on his first six snaps before running back L.J. Robins scored from two yards out. Receiver Austin Mitchell caught two of those passes for 22 yards, but the biggest catch was by Robins for 26 yards, setting up his own TD run. Kicker Bodie Steinfeldt added the extra point for a 7-0 Greenwood lead.
Braden Skaggs then returned the first Ramsey punt for 10 yards to the Rams’ 35-yard-line, giving Greenwood’s offense excellent field position, and they needed just three plays to reach the end zone and add to their early lead. Dean threw to Mitchell on first down for eight yards to the 27, then repeated the same play to the other side of the field for a gain to the 2-yard-line. Dean then scored the touchdown on a keeper and Steinfeldt added the PAT.
Leading 14-0, the visiting defense continued to smother the Ramsey offense, forcing another quick punt, this one going out-of-bounds at the Greenwood 41. On second-and-10, Dean rolled left and passed to his twin brother, Stone, at the Rams’ 40 for a fresh set of downs. Two plays later, from the 35, Dean passed to Peyton Presson over the middle inside the 20 before the freshman receiver ran it in for the touchdown. The kick made it 21-0.
The contest then moved into the second quarter, soon followed by another Ramsey punt out-of-bounds at the Greenwood 40. Six plays later the undefeated Junior Bulldogs were celebrating another quick touchdown.
After a 5-yard loss on first down, Dean completed five consecutive passes to four different receivers. Among them, Robins caught a screen pass for 16 yards and Presson caught two balls for 18 yards before Mitchell pulled in the scoring pass from seven yards out. But the extra point snap-exchange foiled Steinfeldt’s kick attempt and an improvised pass fell incomplete, leaving the halftime score at 27-0.
Desperate to score and with little to lose, the Rams’ offense failed on a fourth down play at midfield after receiving the opening kick of the third quarter. Greenwood took possession of the ball at its own 46 and wasted little time to score and invoke the sportsmanship (mercy) rule, increasing the Bulldogs’ lead to 35-0.
Robins ran for five yards on first down before Mitchell carried to the 38 on an end around. Dean threw to running back Carson Hobbs for a big gain to the 14 and to receiver Noah Chaser for the touchdown. Hobbs then scored on the two-point conversion play, reaching the magical 35-point margin needed for the mercy rule. The remainder of the game played out rapidly with the clock running almost continuously.