The Green Bobcats welcomed the Hannan Wildcats from West Virginia to Franklin Furnace on Saturday afternoon. The game was originally scheduled for Friday night, but was moved to Saturday amidst concerns for bad weather.
Both teams struggled offensively, and it was the Green defense that shined in a 12-0 Bobcats win.
Green scored a touchdown on their first drive of the game when Lonnie Smith plunged in for a score from two yards out with 5:48 remaining in the first quarter. The Bobcats went for two, but the attempt failed.
On Hannan’s proceeding drive, the Wildcats faced a 3rd down and 4 yards to go from their own 43 yard line. Hannan dropped back to pass, but the throw was picked off by Green’s Tim Perkins, who returned it all the way to the Wildcat 27 yard line.
“Really proud of the defense,” Green head coach Ted Newsome said. “I thought they really came back and had a great week. They did everything we ask them to do.”
Entering the game, defense was a cause of concern for the Green coaching staff.
“We were a little worried about their spread sets, but we covered up real well playing man and we got after the quarterback like we wanted to,” Newsome said. “So, very proud of the defense.”
The defense made perhaps the biggest stand of the game late in the first half when Hannan was driving down the field.
After a Green fumble, Hannan took over at the Bobcats 40 yard line with 2:10 remaining before the break. On a 3rd-and-5, the Wildcats broke loose for a 32 yard run that put Hannan at the three yard line.
A false start pushed the Wildcats back to the eight yard line, and the first down play from the Wildcats resulted in a loss of eight yards. Hannan then had a 2nd down and goal from the 16 with seven seconds left in the half.
The Wildcats threw up a pass into the endzone, but it fell just short of the intended receiver. Still, two seconds remained on the clock for Hannan to try and take a halftime lead.
With just two seconds left on the clock, Hannan attempted to run with their quarterback when no receivers were open, but they were stopped well short of the end zone. At that point, the first half was over and Green had stopped the Wildcats from scoring in an impressive goal line stand.
The defensive series on that drive proved to be pivotal in the outlook of the game. “It was huge,” Newsome said. “It was really the difference in the game. If we don’t get that, we’re either tied or behind.”
Green’s defense continued their stingy play well into the second half. The Bobcats forced Hannan into four three and outs on the day, and allowed only two first downs to the Wildcats in the second half. (One of those first downs came on a pass interference penalty)
Still, though, Green struggled on the offensive side of the football. “We weren’t able to produce on offense … we were limited with our speed and couldn’t get on the edge,” Newsome said about his offense. “After the first series on offense, we couldn’t move the ball at all.”
The Bobcats still were facing the potential of a Hannan comeback late into the game. The Wildcats faced a long field, needing 87 yards to score. Their first play was a screen pass, but the receiver was pushed back 11 yards and Hannan was now on their own two yard line.
On the next play, the Wildcats threw an incompletion and faced a 3rd down and 21. Dropping back to pass, Hannan was sacked by Caleb Derifield in the end zone. The Wildcats fumbled the ball, and Bryce Ponn recovered for Green for a touchdown with 4:49 left in the game.
Derifield playing on the defensive line was one of Newsome’s coaching adjustments heading in to the matchup with Hannan. “I was really proud of him,” Newsome said about Derifield. “We tried to go with a little more quickness and athleticism and I think that really paid the price today. It really made a difference for us in helping us shut those guys down.”
The two point conversion was no good for the Bobcats, but the 12 point lead was all Green needed to get the win. The Bobcats were able to stifle Hannan for the rest of the contest, and won 12-0.
While the offense did struggle, Green got the win at the end of the day, and that was enough to make Newsome happy for his kids.
“We’re 1-1, we got a win, and I’m happy about it,” Newsome said. “We’re going to enjoy this one, and we got to get to work because we’ve got a good team coming in here [next week].”
Green (1-1) will welcome the Eastern Eagles (0-2) from Meigs County to Franklin Furnace next Friday.
Reach Benjamin Spicer at (502)264-7318 or on Twitter @BSpicerPDT