Greenville – On a cool night when the sun had set before kickoff, the Greenville Green Wave played nearly an entire game of dominant football, yet, still fell to the Tippecanoe Red Devils 7-6.
To start the game, Greenville’s offense took the field on its own 40-yard line thanks to a beautiful return from Devin Hendrix. From there, the Green Wave, behind lead running back Logan Eldridge, chunked down the field, slicing the Red Devil defense for draining gains of 5, 4, 7, 11, 5 and 6 before they failed to convert on fourth and 1 on the opponent’s 16-yard line.
To have the ball for close to six-and-a-half minutes with no points to show for it would be the theme for the first quarter because Tippecanoe responded with a similar drive, turning the ball over on downs on Greenville’s 22-yard line.
After a Greenville punt, Tippecanoe went on another long drive thanks to penalties – 14 plays for somehow only 26 yards – and punted with 2:30 left in the half.
The Tippecanoe punt pinned Greenville against its own end zone at the 3-yard line. Instead of trying to move the ball down the field for a quick score, the Green Wave elected to run the ball and go to halftime with a tied, and scoreless, ballgame.
“It was a physical football game – two teams trying to run the ball, playing good defense. You go into halftime zero to zero and just keep finding ways to keep going forward with the ball,” Greenville football coach Aaron Shaffer said on the first half. “It was a good half of football.”
Both teams came out of the gate with the same intensity on defense as before, each punting once. On a key third down, Tippecanoe’s quarterback was sacked for a loss of 5 by Eldridge.
When the Green Wave got the ball back, they, again, matched down the field behind the bulldozing runs of Eldridge, who would surge up the middle on fourth and 2 to gain 7 yards and put his team at the Red Devil 7-yard line. On the next play the ball was intercepted in the end zone then nullified by a roughing the passer call.
With a fresh set of downs, Greenville was poised to punch the ball into the end zone but fell short again, settling for, and missing, a field goal.
With 25 seconds left in the third, Tippecanoe decided to end its drought and went on a 13-play, 55-yard drive that ended with a touchdown run from running back Cole Barhorst. After the extra point, Tipp had the lead 7-0.
Not to be outmatched in its own stadium, Greenville immediately responded with an incredible punt return, again by Hendrix. Three plays later the Wave ran a reverse, utilizing Hendrix’ speed. He hit a hole on the outside for a 48 yard touchdown run. The snap on the extra point was muffed, and Greenville was still behind 7-6. It seemed that no matter how well the Green Wave played, someone always prevented them from taking the lead.
On defense, the Green Wave did what they needed to do to get the ball back in the hands of their offense, forcing Tippecanoe to punt to the dangerously quick Hendrix. As he had all game, Hendrix burst through a wall of tumbling defenders and was downed at Tipp’s 22-yard line. The game was all but theirs – until the ball was tipped two plays later for an interception.
“We had some costly penalties that put us in bad situations. The defense gave up a couple runs, but against that (Tippecanoe) offense you’re going to at times,” Coach Shaffer said on the second half. “I thought we responded well after we gave up the score. Devin hit a long run, twice. We gave ourselves another chance when we got the stop defensively. We had the ball with a little less than three minutes to go in the half, but we just didn’t come up with the play tonight.”
Tippecanoe took control with 2:00 left, and Greenville never had a chance to get that one last shot to take the lead, falling 7-6 in a game where the Wave dominated in all three phases – offense, defense and special teams.
“I’m proud of their effort,” Coach Shaffer said of his players after the game. “That was a tough game against a good opponent. Keep fightin’. We’ve got two games left – we gotta keep working to win.”
Greenville fell to 3-5 overall and 0-3 in the Greater Western Ohio Conference with the loss while Tippecanoe improved to 6-2 overall and 2-1 in the GWOC.
Greenville will play state-ranked Troy, who is 7-1 overall and 3-0 in the GWOC, at 7 p.m. Oct. 21 in the Wave’s final home game of the year.