Athens won the all-important turnover battle and prevailed in a game that was much closer than the score indicated.
In the end, the Bluejays won 24-6 and kept their unbeaten record in tact at 7-0. They will try to win the Cloverwood Conference outright next week when they travel to Owen-Withee.
Athens, the reigning conference champion has won 16 straight Cloverwood games
Greenwood/Granton’s problems Friday night could be described in one word: fumble.
The home team fumbled the ball away on its third offensive play of the game. The opportunistic Bluejays punched it in from the 5-yard line when Craig Boyd scored the first of two touchdowns.
G/G then fumbled the ensuing kickoff, but was able to hold the Bluejays and the first quarter ended with Athens ahead 7-0.
Athens then fumbled after a seven-play drive. But after four more plays, G/G handed it right back with another fumble. Five plays later, it was Boyd on a 30-yard run to give the Bluejays a 14-0 halftime lead.
“(G/G was) really tough on defense,” said Boyd, who rushed 23 times for 186 yards. “They’re the defending state champs. We knew it would be a dog fight, but our line won the battle today.”
G/G fumbled the ball five times in the first half, losing four.
Sophomore Shane Coker hauled in an 11-yard touchdown pass from Connor Ellenbecker about haflway through the third quarter to give the Bluejays a three-touchdown advantage.
“Greenwood/Granton’s a very good team.” Ellenbecker said. “We knew it would be a battle. It was a big test for us and we did what we had to do.”
“We knew it would be a battle and we tried to mentally prepare our kids for that,” Athens coach Ryan Bargender said.
“G/G’s a good team. They’re well coached. It was the battle we expected. We have some things to clean up. We were able to force some turnovers and that was huge.”
G/G got on the board with a 12-play, 68-yard drive that ended when Westin Wuethrich crashed in from the 1-yard line, but that was all it could muster.
Shane Coker ended the scoring with a 20-yard field goal early in the final quarter.
“We made a few too many msitakes,” said G/G coach Jeff Trunkel, and we didn’t punch it in when we had it on the goal line. “That’s what happens. We played them tough in the second half. Our defense did really well. We just needed a few breaks.”
A- Craig Boyd 5 run (Shane Coker kick)
A- Boyd 30 run (Coker kick)
A- Coker 11 pass from Connor Ellenbecker (Coker kick)
G- Westin Wuethrich 1 run (Pass failed)
A- Coker 20 FG
Rushing: A: Craig Boyd 23-186. G/G: Book Bredlau 9-139. Delten Schmitz 20-97.
Passing: A: Connor Ellenbecker 6-10-0-130. G/G: Kole Hinker 5-11-0-51.
Receiving: A: Boyd 3-48, Shane Coker 2-46. G/G Weston Wuethrich 3-34.
Records: Athens 7-0, 7-0 Cloverwood; Greenwood/Granton 4-3.