GREENVILLE – Greenville scored touchdowns on offense, defense and in special teams to build a 24-0 halftime lead that led the Green Wave to a 30-20 season-opening victory against Eaton on Friday night.
Greenville football coach Aaron Shaffer was very pleased to see his team start out the season with a victory, especially with all three facets of the game coming up with big plays. But he said there’s still a lot of work ahead for the Wave, who had to withstand Eaton’s second-half surge.
“It’s really neat to see that all three facets of the game paid off for us tonight, but again there are things that we’ve got to get shored up in all three areas still,” Shaffer said. “It’s early in the season so there’s a lot of work to be done.”
Greenville wasted little time in scoring its first points of the 2015 season as senior quarterback Clay Guillozet ran for a 62-yard touchdown on the third offensive play of the game for a 7-0 Green Wave lead.
Moments later the Wave’s special teams came up big when Greenville blocked an Eaton punt, and Logan Eldridge scooped it up and ran 17 yards for a touchdown, putting Greenville up 14-0 less than two-and-a-half minutes into the game.
Eaton started to pick up momentum during its second drive as the Eagles gained three first downs, but the momentum went back to Greenville as Eldridge intercepted a pass to regain possession for the Wave.
The teams traded punts late in the first quarter and into the second quarter before the Greenville defense came up big again. With Eaton moving into Greenville territory, Justin Brown ended the threat as he picked off an Eagle pass and returned it 74 yards for a touchdown, putting Greenville ahead 21-0.
“He’s making that interception in traffic,” Shaffer said. “Kid’s got arms on him and he’s able to break free and go. And I’m pretty confident that if Justin Brown gets in open space he’s not going to be caught.”
After the defense forced a three-and-out, Greenville’s offense moved into Eaton territory with a pass from Guillozet to Elijah Moore, setting the Wave up in the red zone. Greenville couldn’t get a touchdown but got three points with a Jordan Ernst field goal, making it 24-0.
Greenville went into half with the 24-0 lead as Eaton struggled to get anything going throughout the first 24 minutes of the game.
“Defensively shut that team out for a half,” Shaffer said, “that’s something else. With that running back they’ve got, quarterback slings it around pretty good … really proud of the way the defense played.”
Eaton started to get things going in the second half, beginning with its opening drive of the third quarter. The Eagles drove 80 yards in 3:48 with Damon Willard plunging in from 1 yard out on fourth down to get Eaton on the scoreboard. The two-point conversion failed, making it a 24-6 game.
After Greenville punted on its first possession of the second half, Eaton continued to build momentum with its second drive of the third quarter. The Eagles drove all the way to the Greenville 9-yard line, but the Green Wave defense came up with a stop to keep its lead at 18 points.
That defensive stop led to a 91-yard drive by the Green Wave that concluded with Devin Hendrix grabbing a 36-yard touchdown pass from Guillozet with 30 seconds left in the third quarter to make it 30-6. The extra point was missed, keeping the lead at 24 points.
Greenville’s defense continued to come up big on the following drive as Michael Coby recovered an Eaton fumble, but the offense couldn’t get anything going and punted again.
After the punt Eaton went 67 yards with an 11-yard touchdown pass from Austin Hartzler to Shelby Ward with 6:17 left in the fourth quarter making it a 30-12 game. Eaton again failed to convert on the two-point conversion.
Greenville’s next possession went three-and-out, forcing a Green Wave punt. The snap on the punt was low, forcing Ernst to scoop it up with Eagle defenders closing in quickly. The Greenville punter threw it up, and the pass was intercepted by Donnie Nicodemus, setting up the Eagles at the Greenville 28-yard line.
It took just two plays for the Eagles to cover the 28 yards with Ghye Wilson hauling in a 28-yard touchdown pass from Hartzler with 4:12 left in the game. With the two-point conversion successful, Greenville’s lead was down to 30-20.
The Green Wave then recovered an onside kick at the 50-yard line, and the Greenville offense ran out the clock to preserve the 10-point victory.
“It doesn’t really matter how we do it, but if we’re ringing the bell at the end of the night, it’s a good night,” Shaffer said.
Eaton out-gained Greenville with 342 yards for the Eagles compared to 279 for the Wave. Greenville had 102 passing yards and 177 rushing yards while Eaton had 247 passing yards and 95 rushing yards.
Guillozet was 6-for-14 passing for 102 yards and a touchdown. He led the Wave with 134 rushing yards and one touchdown on 11 carries.
Six Greenville receivers caught passes from Guillozet. Hendrix led the Wave with 36 yards and a touchdown while Moore had 32 receiving yards.
Senior running back Codi Byrd, a 1,000 rusher last year, had just 36 yards on 21 carries, which is something Shaffer pointed to as an area Greenville has to improve.
“We’ve got to get Codi going a little better,” Shaffer said. “I don’t know what he did for tonight, but it didn’t feel like it was a lot.”
Hartzler was 25-for-49 for 247 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions for Eaton. Willard ran for 108 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries.
Lew Bowser had eight catches for 64 yards, Wilson caught five passes for 68 yards and a touchdown, and Ward caught three passes for 18 yards and a touchdown for the Eagles.
Erick Madison led Greenville’s defense with 16 tackles, including seven solo tackles, and one sack. Brown had 14 tackles, an interception and a touchdown. Eldridge had seen tackles, an interception and a special teams touchdown.
Greenville will put its 1-0 record on the line Friday night when it travels to Tippecanoe, who beat Graham 56-0 in its season opener. Last year Tippecanoe beat Greenville 42-14.