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By JOE BYRD
North Greene didn’t get to experience the thrill of a playoff win at home Friday night, but the Huskies left the field with their heads held high following the finest season in the history of Husky football.
Oliver Springs closed out the 2011 season for the Huskies with a 47-13 win in the second round of the playoffs.
The Huskies still have the first winning season in the history of the program, finishing the year with a 6-5 record.
“We are very proud of this season,” said North Greene coach Josh Edens. “It’s tough to go out this way. We felt like we had our opportunities in the ball game. We really cost ourselves in some big areas with mental mistakes.
“I’m not going to dwell on that. These kids busted their tails this year. Two years ago, they committed to an idea. They’ve achieved more in two years than anybody would have thought possible.
“We’d love to be playing in the third round, but we are proud of what these kids accomplished this year.”
For Oliver Springs, Friday’s victory was their fourth straight, but Bobcat head coach felt his squad could have played better despite the 34-point victory.
“We played decent, but it wasn’t great,” Brackett said. “The key is we kept playing hard. They kept it close in the first half, but we decided to play Oliver Springs football in the second half and we were a much more physical team.”
Having two of the preceding three weeks off probably wound up hurting the Huskies as much as anything. North Greene just wasn’t as game sharp as the visiting Bobcats.
North Greene had four turnovers, all of which were turned into Oliver Springs scoring drives, and the Huskies were flagged 18 times for 142 yards in penalties.
It was a turnover by Oliver Springs, however, that started the Huskies off right and resulted in an early North Greene lead.
On the third play of the game, North Greene’s David Triantas forced a fumble that was recovered by T.J. Jones at the Bobcat 44.
North Greene quarterback Chance Marr led the Huskies on an eight-play scoring drive, connecting with Zach Britton on a couple of long pass plays to get close before Marr plunged in from the 2. Tyler Bailey nailed the extra point, giving North Greene a 7-0 lead less than five minutes into the game.
That’s the last time the Huskies led.
The interior of North Greene’s defensive line — Jones, Wes Asbury and Dakoda Laughlin — along with Triantas at middle linebacker did a good job of keeping the Bobcats from running up the middle.
But when Oliver Springs hit the corner on the outside, long runs were usually the result.
The Bobcats managed 296 yards of total offense, 214 coming on the ground. Jordan Romero led Oliver Springs with three touchdowns and 95 yards on 17 attempts. Quarterback Garrett Miller had 96 yards rushing on 11 carries.
Miller was 6-of-10 passing for 82 yards. All six catches were by Austin West.
A 22-yard completion from Miller to West set up Oliver Springs’ first touchdown, getting the Bobcats deep into NG territory. On the very next play, Michael Nelson broke a 16-yard touchdown run. Austin Rice hit the point after, tying the score at 7-7 with 5:20 left in the first.
The Bobcats took the lead early in the second. Brady Walls intercepted a North Greene pass at the Husky 39. Eight plays later, Miller hit West for on a 24-yard touchdown pass, and Oliver Springs was in the lead for good.
Walls’ second interception set up another Bobcat scoring drive, this one for eight plays from mid field with Romero bowling in from the 2.
North Greene wasn’t ready to go down without a fight. Following a 25-yard kickoff return from D.J. Triplett, the Huskies worked their way down field on three completions from Marr, the last one a 21-yard touchdown pass to Seth Compton.
The Huskies cut short Oliver Springs’ ensuing possession with a Jordan Anderson interception, but rather than come up with a chance to really pull themselves back into it, the Huskies gave the ball up on the next to last play of the half and it hurt.
Nelson grabbed the Bobcats’ third interception of the half and returned it all the way to the North Greene 1 yard line, stopping the clock with 1.7 remaining. That was enough time for Miller to fall behind center and into the end zone and give Oliver Springs a 27-13 lead on the final play from scrimmage in the opening half.
North Greene took the kickoff to start the second half, and another turnover led to another Oliver Springs touchdown that put the game out of reach. Nelson scored his second touchdown on a two-yard run to make it 34-13 Oliver Springs at the end of the third.
Romero scored twice for the Bobcats in the fourth quarter on runs of 14 and 20 yards to see Oliver Springs through to the state quarterfinals.
North Greene was led offensively by 103 yards passing and 17 yards rushing by Marr.
Matthew Weems had two receptions for 44 yards. Britton had 38 yards receiving on four catches. Mason Early rushed for 29 yards.
Zack Whitlock had an interception on defense. Compton had four kickoff returns for 90 yards.
With the victory, Oliver Springs (8-4) advances to next week’s TSSAA Class AA quarterfinals and a rematch with Oneida (8-4). The Bobcats beat the Indians 34-28 on Friday, Oct. 7 after Miller capped a 78-yard scoring drive with a 1-yard run with 1:15 left to play.
“Anytime you beat a good team the first time it becomes that much harder to beat them a second time,” Brackett said. “They will have the revenge factor.
“We’ll have to come out ready to play and play hard. We’ve got to control the ball on offense and we can’t afford turnovers.
Oliver Springs Statistics
Rushing- Romero 17-95 with 3 TDs, Miller 11-96 with 1 TD, West 3-23, Nelson 6-18 with 2 TDs, Coker 1-(-9), Team 1-(-9)
Passing- Miller 6-10 for 82 yards with 1 TD and 2 INTs.
Receiving- West 6-82 with 1 TD.