By Kyle Dart
It was Homecoming for the Greenwood Bulldogs last night and they looked to deliver for the hometown crowd. The Bulldogs welcomed in the Choctaw Yellowjackets from Oklahoma and promised to show them what the #1 6A team in Arkansas could do. The Bulldogs are sitting at 2-0 after defeating Fort Smith Southside to open the season and shutting out Springdale Har-Ber last week 33-0. Choctaw entered the game 1-1 after playing a handful of Arkansas teams. They opened their season with a loss to Springdale but bounced back with a win at home against Van Buren last week.
The Yellowjackets won the opening toss and stalled on their opening drive after a long touchdown run was called back on a clipping violation. Greenwood would force the punt but be unable to move the ball downfield on their opening drive. After a Greenwood punt, Choctaw had the ball for 3rd and long on their own 36-yard line when Bulldog junior, Colt Owenby, picked off a rushed pass by the Yellowjacket QB to end the drive.
On the following possession, the Bulldogs would strike first when sophomore quarterback, Hunter Houston, roped a laser to senior Caden Brown in the corner of the endzone. Brown showed his speed and route-running abilities when he was left standing all alone in the blue turf. Greenwood would make the extra point and with just over 2 minutes to go in the 1st quarter the Bulldogs were up 7-0.
Midway through the 2nd quarter, it looked as if the Yellowjackets were going to get on the board. Choctaw was 4th and 1 from the Greenwood 2-yard line. But they lost yardage on their 4th down play when Bulldog junior, Seth Stephens, broke through the line and busted the option read play before the Yellowjackets could move an inch.
The teams would continue to exchange possessions throughout the 2nd quarter and the Bulldogs would take their 7-0 lead into halftime.
On the opening possession of the 2nd half, Bulldog QB, Hunter Houston, showed off his arm by driving the offense clear to the Yellowjacket 7-yard line. However, the drive would end there with an interception in the endzone that was returned to the Yellowjacket 1-yard line. The swarming Bulldog defense would make them pay for bringing the interception out of the endzone. On the first play of the drive, the running back was met by almost every member of the Bulldog defense to force a safety. A testament to the pride this defense carries showed in their excitement for forcing the rare 2-point play. Greenwood took a 9-0 lead with 9:02 left in the 3rd quarter.
Following the free kick, Bulldog QB, Hunter Houston, would again prove his throwing power by hitting senior wide receiver, Peyton Carter, with a beautiful pass down the middle. Carter found a soft spot in the zone and ran his route to perfection to set up a big play down to the Yellowjacket 22-yard line. In classic Bulldog fashion, they hustled to the line, and again Houston connected with Carter on a 22-yard touchdown pass on a streaking route down the right side. The blocking, route running, and passing was executed so well that it almost appeared effortless for this prolific Bulldog offense. With the extra point, the Bulldogs took the 16-0 lead with 8:40 left in the 3rd quarter.
The Yellowjackets made good use of their next possession by scoring on a long pass down the right side of the field for a touchdown bringing the score to 16-6 with 6:26 left in the 3rd. They would miss a 2-point conversion attempt.
With just over 5 minutes left in the 3rd quarter, Bulldog, Hunter Houston, would lose his helmet on a QB run up the middle forcing sophomore QB, Joe Trusty, to enter the game for the next snap. Trusty would take advantage of his opportunity and hit a streaking Bulldog receiver down the right side for a 38-yard completion to the Bulldog 6-yard line. Houston would reenter the game and, after a few penalties on both teams, senior Caden Brown was found wide open to deliver a 12-yard touchdown pass on 4th and 12. Brown showed his athleticism by beating Yellowjacket senior Free Safety, Jordan Mukes, to the corner of the endzone. Mukes is a 3-star recruit who is currently committed to Oklahoma University. The Bulldogs would make their extra point upgrading them to 23-6 with 2:45 left in the 3rd quarter.
Choctaw would answer back on the following possession by delivering a 77-yard touchdown run up the middle. They would again miss the 2-point conversion attempt bringing the score to 23-12 with 2:21 left in the 3rd quarter.
Both teams would exchange possessions with neither team finding the endzone in the 4th quarter. The Bulldogs would run out the clock with the ball on the Yellowjacket 1-yard line showing their sportsmanship after their toughest battle of the season. Greenwood takes the homecoming victory over a very talented Choctaw team 23-12. Next week the Bulldogs will host the undefeated Parkview Patriots from Little Rock in the 6A conference opener.
Photo credit: Kyle Dart