DAYTON – Greenville dodged a bullet on Friday as the Green Wave turned the ball over five times but still beat Stebbins 21-3.
Greenville’s offense fumbled three times and threw two interceptions, but the Wave defense was stout – limiting Stebbins to just three points while scoring six of its own with an Erick Madison pick six.
“When you leave the field at 3-1 you don’t feel terrible about it, but you know there are things that’s got to get fixed there,” Greenville football coach Aaron Shaffer said. “I thought the defense again, for two weeks in a row, played phenomenal football once we caught up to the speed of their option attack.
“Offensively we’ve got to quit hurting ourselves. I mean we have the athletes to go out and do the things that we want to do offensively, but you can’t have five turnovers in a game and expect to win. I told the kids before we broke it down there we kind of dodged a bullet tonight with that one. You turn the ball over that many times you’re not supposed to win, but somehow or another we found the way to get the win tonight. It doesn’t matter how you get the W. It just matters that you get it.”
Early on it looked like Greenville could be in for a long night in multiple ways. After the opening kickoff, which Stebbins returned to its own 46-yard line, the game was delayed for 90 minutes by lightning.
Once the game resumed the Indians put together a 13-play drive that ate seven minutes off the scoreboard. It looked like they scored on a 4-yard run by Elijah Hall, but the touchdown was called back for a holding, forcing Stebbins to settle for a 28-yard field goal and a 3-0 lead.
Greenville’s defense settled down after the opening drive and bailed out the Wave offense. After Stebbins intercepted a Greenville pass, Erick Madison picked off a Stebbins pass and returned it 50 yards for a touchdown, giving Greenville a 7-3 lead late in the first quarter.
“To have Erick make that play … I mean that was an outstanding play,” Shaffer said. “I just barely caught it. I was coming back from talking with the offense, and he went up and got that and took off. That kid works hard at it. He really wants to do well for his teammates. He did that tonight.”
Following a turnover on downs by Stebbins, who was celebrating its homecoming, the teams traded fumbles to set Greenville up at midfield with 2:33 remaining in the half.
Moments later Kyle Phillips found Devin Hendrix open for a 38-yard touchdown pass, increasing the Greenville lead to 14-3 prior to halftime.
“It’s nice to see Kyle stand back there in the pocket and find Devin on the long ball,” Shaffer said. “The offensive line did their job. The backs did their job. The quarterback and wide receiver go do theirs and that ends up with points.”
Greenville’s first two drives of the second half both resulted in turnovers – an interception and a fumble – but Stebbins failed to capitalize on either. Stebbins, however, fumbled at the Greenville 20-yard field on its second possession of the half, and the Wave took advantage of the miscue.
Greenville put together a 15-play drive that covered 80 yards in eight minutes and culminated in a 4-yard touchdown run by Logan Eldridge early in the fourth quarter.
“To be able to go on a drive like that and be able to eat clock and put points on the board, those are demoralizing-type drives,” Shaffer said. “We’ve got to be able to do that maybe not every time we’ve got the ball but more times than not.”
Eldridge unofficially finished the night with 128 yards and one touchdown on 30 carries. Most of his production – 92 yards on 22 carries – came in the second half.
“To some degree we’ve got to be careful with how much we use him too early, but he’s a really good running back,” Shaffer said. “He’s powerful, he’s got speed, he’s got great vision, but some of that you have to give credit to the offensive line and the blocking backs, too. We’re not a one-man show, but he’s definitely one of the big ones.”
Greenville finished the night with 129 rushing yards and 92 passing yards. Phillips completed 6-of-8 passes for 92 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. Hendrix caught one pass for 38 yards and a touchdown and Bradley Mead caught two passes for 18 yards to lead the Wave receivers.
Stebbins quarterback David Hickey was 0-of-5 passing with an interception.
The Indians gained 209 yards on the ground, 144 of which came in the first half. CJ Martin was Stebbins’ leading rusher with 84 yards on 17 carries, and Hickey ran 12 times for 50 yards.
Greenville improved to 3-1 with Friday’s victory while Stebbins, a first-year Greater Western Ohio Conference team, fell to 2-2. The Green Wave will reach the midpoint of their season on Friday when they play host to Trotwood-Madison, who enters the game on a three-game winning streak.
“We’re definitely going to have our work cut out for us,” Shaffer said. “I think our kids will be up to the challenge. We’ll see how we respond next week going into the game. I hate to say that there are things that you circle on your calendar, but it’s definitely one that you know where it’s at because of how good they’ve been and the kind of athletes they’ve got. So it’s definitely going to be a big challenge.”
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.