GREENVILLE – Greenville scored 41 consecutive points Friday night as the Green Wave manhandled Stebbins and celebrated Homecoming with a 41-13 victory.
Greenville started the game a little flat and quickly faced a 6-0 deficit, but the Wave were able to overcome the early adversity to earn their second consecutive victory.
“It always feels good to get a ‘W,’” Greenville football coach Aaron Shaffer said. “It’s always a little extra special when it’s Homecoming. Really proud of the way our kids responded. We were a little flat coming out of the locker room. I don’t know … sometimes you worry about all the festivities leading up through the week and pregame and all of that. But about there late in the first quarter we found a little bit of life and started playing a little bit better.”
The night began with Greenville having three consecutive incompletions and being forced to punt less than 30 seconds into the contest.
Stebbins meanwhile got off to a fast start and went 60 yards for a score on its opening possession. Levi Stewart led Stebbins with a 28-yard halfback pass completion plus 21 rushing yards on the drive, which ended with a 1-yard touchdown plunge by quarterback Ryan Minor.
After having a successful two-point conversion erased because of a holding call, Stebbins missed the extra point to leave the score at 6-0.
“Stebbins kept us off-balance a little early with their inside running game,” Shaffer said. “That back ran hard.
“Stebbins always is going to come in with some athletes and with what they’re doing now, spreading it out and moving the ball around, you always worry about those guys in space, and I thought our defense rallied to it and played pretty good football.”
Greenville began to turn things around on its next possession, starting with a nice kickoff return by John Butsch that coupled with a facemask penalty put the Wave into Stebbins territory.
From there it took just two plays for Greenville to score with Jarrad Crist running 25 yards on the first play of the series and 24 yards for a score on the second play. The extra point attempt was no good, though, keeping the score tied at 6-6.
Greenville took its first lead of the night later in the first quarter with a 14-yard touchdown run by Owen Paulus that capped off a seven-play, 58-yard drive and made it a 13-6 game.
Greenville went into halftime up 20-6 as late in the second quarter Paulus connected with Micah Light for a 23-yard touchdown pass on a fourth-and-12 play.
Midway through the third quarter Stebbins was driving deep into Greenville territory and was on the verge of scoring to make it a one-possession game. However, Butsch scooped up a fumble at the 1-yard line and raced 99 yards for a touchdown to put Greenville up by 21 points and demoralize the visitors.
“We’ve faced some of that at times this year in other games where that one big play turns the tide of the game,” Shaffer said. “They’ve got a nice drive going, going to stick it in and make it a one-score game. Maybe we tighten up and they loosen up and continue to play, and then John made his play. It’s just one of those things about football; you never really know.”
Stebbins’ next two possessions also ended with turnovers including a pick-six by Alec Fletcher early in the fourth quarter that put Greenville up 34-6.
The following possession for Stebbins ended with a blocked punt that gave Greenville great field position and set up a 29-yard touchdown run by Paulus to make it 41-6.
“It’s not exactly what you would describe as a strength for Owen, but what he does is he makes his reads well,” Shaffer said of Paulus’ running. “If you read what we’re doing well you’ll get into some nice, big holes.”
Moments later it looked like Greenville would have another defensive touchdown when Tyler Beyke returned an interception for a score, but that touchdown was negated by a roughing the passer penalty. One play later Stebbins made Greenville pay for the mistake with a 54-yard touchdown pass from Minor to RaShawan Benners for the game’s final points.
Greenville finished the night with 335 total yards including 290 rushing yards and 45 passing yards. Stebbins had 276 yards with 122 on the ground and 154 through the air.
Paulus was 5-of-16 passing for 45 yards, a touchdown and an interception on a Hail Mary pass at the end of the first half. He ran nine times for 80 yards and two touchdowns.
Crist ran the ball 18 times for 117 yards and a touchdown. Di’Maurye Ewing had 43 yards on 11 carries.
Light ran six times for 33 yards and caught two passes for 36 yards and a touchdown. Marcus Wood caught three passes for 9 yards.
Tony Sells led Greenville’s defense with 11 tackles while Noah Walker intercepted two passes. Fletcher intercepted a pass and scored a touchdown, and Butsch returned a fumble recovery for a touchdown.
Stebbins’ Minor completed 8-of-19 passes for 126 yards, a touchdown and three interceptions. Stewart completed his only pass attempt for 28 yards.
Stewart led Stebbins with 80 rushing yards on 14 carries. Minor had 24 yards and a touchdown on seven attempts.
Benners caught three passes for 73 yards and a touchdown. Dylan Long caught two passes for 39 yards, and Damiene Boles Jr. caught two for 28 yards.
Stebbins fell to 0-4 with Friday’s loss while Greenville improved to 2-2. The Wave will put their two-game winning streak on the line on Friday when they travel to Trotwood-Madison.
“Getting the last two definitely feels good, but we’re not satisfied,” Shaffer said. “We’ve still got work to do, things to clean up, things to get better with. A very challenging stretch of our schedule is coming up. Our young kids will keep battling and fighting, and we’ll see where we’re at here in a few more weeks.”
Kyle Shaner may be reached at 937-569-4316. Follow me on Twitter @KShanerAdvocate or get updates on Facebook by searching Darke County Sports or Advocate 360. For more features online go to dailyadvocate.com.