GREENVILLE – Greenville shut out Urbana on Friday night, defeating the Hillclimbers 21-0 in the Green Wave’s 2016 home opener.
In addition to keeping Urbana out of the end zone the entire night, the Greenville defense also intercepted five Hillclimber passes with Elijah Moore and Trae Wood both picking off two.
“Wasn’t as clean as we would like offensively but what more can you say about your defense to stare up at a scoreboard with a zero under the guests,” Greenville football coach Aaron Shaffer said. “Our defensive kids played really good football, a little team football tonight, which we weren’t really doing much last week (in a loss at Wilmington).”
The Greenville defense limited Urbana to just 158 total yards on Friday, 82 on the ground and 76 through the air.
The Greenville offense, meanwhile, managed 265 total yards with 228 rushing and 37 passing. The Green Wave turned the ball over just once – a fourth quarter fumble.
“Offensively I haven’t seen the stat sheet yet, but it’s probably a whole bunch of rushing yards,” Shaffer said. “We’ve got get better throwing the ball, and we know that. But I’m really proud of our kids’ effort tonight.”
While the offense ultimately did enough to win, Greenville missed some opportunities in the first half that could have put the game away sooner.
After an interception by Moore on the opening drive of the game, the Greenville offense went three and out and had to punt.
Following a second three and out, Greenville started to get moving on its third possession. The Wave got all the way down to the Hillclimber 8-yard line before stalling and turning the ball over on downs.
The Greenville defense again gave the offense great field position with Wood reeling in his first interception of the night. This time the Green Wave offense marched down to the 6-yard line before coming up empty again.
“We’ve had some QB-center exchange issues here the last couple weeks, and we give them free downs,” Shaffer said. “Even if we get a play off, or it looks like we get the play off, the timing is wrong and all that. And that was one of the things we talked about at halftime. We get down near the goal line we’ve got to finish the drive. Get down there in points range you’ve got to finish. Some of that can be play calls. Some of that can be maybe you run your kicker out there on fourth down and let him kick one through. Those are things we’ll evaluate and look at, but when we get inside the 10-yard line we’ve got to be able to put the ball in the end zone.”
On the ensuing Urbana drive Greenville got its third interception of the game with Devin Hendrix picking off a pass and returning it all the way to the Urbana 7-yard line. The Wave didn’t squander this opportunity as two plays later Logan Eldridge broke through the center of the Hillclimber defense for a 1-yard touchdown run, giving Greenville with 7-0 lead with less than a minute before halftime.
In the second half Hendrix returned the opening kickoff all the way to midfield. Nine plays later Eldridge scored again with a 3-yard run, putting the Wave up 14-0.
In the fourth quarter Greenville took advantage of an Urbana running into the kicker penalty that helped extend a Green Wave drive. Five plays later Eldridge scored his third touchdown of the night, a 1-yard run that capped off a 14-play drive covering 74 yards.
“Logan is kind of a workhorse,” Shaffer said. “We’ve got a few guys back there that get carries, and you throw Kyle (Phillips) into that mix. But Logan has some really good vision. He runs the ball hard. I thought he had a good night. He’s run the ball well so far this year. We’ve got to keep finding ways to get the ball in his hands to make sure that we’re productive offensively. But our other guys, they can do it, too.”
The next three drives all resulted in turnovers – Greenville intercepting two Urbana passes and the Hillclimbers recovering a Greenville fumble – as the clock wound down and the game ended with a 21-0 Green Wave victory.
Eldridge led Greenville with 107 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 22 carries. Phillips ran 16 times for 70 yards, Di’Maurye Ewing ran eight times for 39 yards, and Justin Brown had one carry for 12 yards.
Phillips was 3-of-11 passing for 37 yards. Bradley Mead caught one pass for 20 yards, Brown caught one for 12, and Moore caught one for 5 yards.
For Urbana quarterback Preston Shields ran 13 times for 67 yards, Isaiah Fonseca ran four times for 22 yards, and Ezra Lee ran four times for -7 yards.
Shields was 10-of-19 passing for 76 yards and five interceptions, completing six passes to Fonseca for 40 yards.
“We preach turnovers,” Shaffer said. “You want the turnovers from your defense, you don’t want the turnovers from your offense, and when you win that battle on the stat sheet, more times than not you’re going to win the ballgame.”
Greenville improved to 2-1 with Friday’s win while Urbana fell to 1-2. The Green Wave will return to action at Stebbins, who is 2-1 with back-to-back victories against Urbana and Northeastern.
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.