FRISCO, TX — The bigger and faster Pleasant Grove Hawks got out to an early but not insurmountable lead over the Greenwood Rangers on Friday night.
PG scored touchdowns on their first three possessions, and all of the sudden, Greenwood was in a 20-3 hole. Senior Derek Rimer drilled a 33 yard field goal for Greenwood’s only points of the first quarter and a half.
PG’s speed and multitude of options were the difference maker initially. Running back KJ Hicks punched it in from one yard out for the first points, and Logan Johnson extended the lead on a 69 yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Ben Harmon.
Greenwood’s field goal came on the next possession, but the Hawks answered right back with a 71 yard scoring drive. Penalties extended the drive when it looked like Greenwood would force a three and out.
On 3rd and 16 following a run for -1, false start, and run for no gain, Pleasant Grove threw a screen to 5-star defensive end/tight end Landon Jackson on the left side. Jackson escaped a group of Rangers on the left and cut back to the right before being brought down 6 yards short of the first down. However, Greenwood was called for a face mask penalty away from the tackle, and the PG offense stayed on the field.
With 10:37 in the second quarter, Johnson got on the board in the rushing category with a 26 yard scamper around the left side untouched.
Greenwood put the offensive troubles that plagued them in the first quarter in the rearview mirror and started to get rolling.
On their next possession, Greenwood's star running back Trey Cross started to get going. He converted a 3rd and 2 on the first set of chains, and quarterback Weston Wilber hit running back Ryan Snodgrass at the sticks to give them another first down on 3rd and 8 three plays later.
Now at the 50, Wilber dropped back, found no one open, and scrambled to the PG 43. Two plays later, on 3rd and 1, Cross took a pitch and patiently worked his way to the left sideline before finding a hole and running to the 32 for another first down. On 2nd and 10, he did the same thing this time working his way for 5.
They converted yet another third down when wide receiver Brody Ray settled into the zone on a hook route, and Wilber put the ball on the numbers. Cross ran his way from the 18 to the 6 on the next play, and Snodgrass punched it in on a 4 yard run to make the game 20-10 with 4:12 to play in the first half.
The Ranger defense came up big on the next play, and a PG penalty helped them out even more. Starting at their 14, Greenwood allowed 5 yards on the first two plays. On third down, Harmon had an open Johnson on a post but threw it too high.
The ensuing punt rolled all the way down to the Greenwood 26 after the returner decided to let it bounce. PG was called for illegal motion; however, and they were forced to replay the down. This time, the punt was fair caught at the PG 45. The mistake cost the Hawk defense 29 yards.
Another costly penalty, a face mask, gave Greenwood 15 more yards following an 11 yard run by Snodgrass on 2nd and 5. Wilber’s first down pass from the 15 was broken up by a hard PG hit on the receiver, and Cross could only mustered one yard on the next play.
A holding call on third down ended any chance at a touchdown, but Rimer knocked a 34 yard field goal through the uprights to make it a one possession game. 20-13 PG with 45 seconds in the half.
Greenwood would get the ball coming out of the break and needed to end the half with a defensive stop. But, as would happen more than once, the Rangers would look really good on defense and then let up one big play to erase that hard work.
On first down after the field goal, Harmon lofted it up to a double covered Sergio Rodriguez. The pass was a little under thrown and it looked like either Greenwood defender would pick it off, but they ran into each other and fell to the ground. Rodriguez jumped up, caught it at the Greenwood 25, and ran into the end zone untouched with 25 seconds left.
The two teams went into the locker rooms with PG up 27-13.
Greenwood would not let that late touchdown deflate them and came out with a 73 yard, six minute touchdown drive. Ray caught a 27 yard post on the first play and went down at the PG 46. A series of pitches to Cross put them at the 20.
From there, the Rangers survived a scare. Wilber had a pass over the middle intercepted by linebacker Dylan Hopkins, but 4-star defensive end Marcus Burris had hit Wilber late, giving Greenwood a 1st and goal from the 10. Three plays later, Cross was in for a hard fought touchdown run. It was 27-20 with 6:05 in the third.
Unknown to them, that would be their final points of the game. Pleasant Grove answered with a 57 yard, 3 minute and 44 second long drive of their own. Greenwood had a chance to get them off the field with a 3rd and 10 on the first set of downs, but allowed Harmon to scramble up the middle on a pass play for a 14 yard gain.
Leading rusher Bruce Garrett, who was injured early in the game, returned and took a handoff to the right side. He was hurt again on the play and would miss the rest of the game. Garrett would be a huge loss if he is not good to go for the championship.
A couple plays after that injury, Greenwood had PG in a 4th and 2 situation from the Greenwood 35. The Hawks ran a scissor route combination on the right side, one man ran a post and the other a corner. The Ranger defensive backs followed the post, and Harmon hit a wide open Johnson on the corner for a 35 yard touchdown.
Now back to a two-possession game, Greenwood’s offensive scheme would come back to bite them. Cross was their best option, and PG knew this. They bottled him up and forced Greenwood to try and throw. Greenwood’s wing-t offense and two receiver sets were easy for PG to cover, and the Rangers were forced to punt when their drive ended early in the fourth quarter.
Two plays into their drive, PG hit another home run. Harmon rolled to his right and dropped the ball in the bucket to Rodriguez on a corner route. Rodriguez had no one within five yards of him when he caught it, and he raced towards the goal line. With no one near, he slowed down and did a front flip into the end zone.
He was called for a taunting penalty at the one, and, because it is a spot penalty, he gave Greenwood a second chance.
All the penalty ended up doing was allow PG to take more time off the clock. Hopkins caught a corner pass in the left side of the end zone between two defenders two minutes after the taunting penalty.
It was now 41-20 PG with 9:02 to play in the game.
Greenwood’s offense went three and out, and the snap flew over Rimer’s head. Rimer picked it up at the goal line and was lucky to get it away as all 6’6” and 240 pounds of Landon Jackson smoked him.
PG scored one more time before it was all said and done. KJ Hicks powered his way in on a one yard score with just under two minutes to bring this one to a close.
Final score: Pleasant Grove 48, Greenwood 20.
The loss is Greenwood’s first of the season and stops them one win short of tying their schools best season in history.
Pleasant Grove, now 14-1, will play 12-3 Wimberley in the State Championship in AT&T Stadium on Saturday, December 20 at 3:00. Wimberley defeated now 9-5 Silsbee 56-43 Friday night.
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