By KEVIN TAYLOR
Special to the log cabin
GREENWOOD — Vilonia coach Jim Stanley’s strategy was simple: Greenwood’s potent offense couldn’t score if it didn’t have the football.
For eight minutes Friday night, it was working.
Once the Bulldogs started to run a few plays, Vilonia’s 9-0 lead was gone fast.
Morgan caught two touchdowns in the last three minutes of the first quarter, and Justin Sunde ended the first half with a 90-yard touchdown run as the No. 1 Bulldogs pulled away from the Eagles, 45-15, to remain unbeaten. Greenwood (8-0, 5-0) will face Greenbrier (8-0, 5-0) in a battle for 5A-West supremacy on Friday.
"They are so good; that’s by far the best Greenwood team we’ve played since I’ve been here," Stanley said. "You can’t make mistakes. Our only chance was to keep the ball away from them. I just wanted to give our kids a chance."
The Eagles converted two first downs, including a 46-yard pass to James Sax, while taking a 3-0 on James Gardner’s 25-yard field goal with 7:56 left in the first quarter
Vilonia’s Martin Reyes then recovered the first of several onside kicks at the Bulldogs’ 40. After another third-down completion, Vilonia drove 40 yards for a touchdown. Junior Michael Atkinson did the honors by sprinting in from the 10 with four minutes to play in the first quarter. The PAT was no good, and Vilonia led 9-0.
"I was curious to see how we would handle adversity," Greenwood coach Rick Jones said. "I was really proud of the kids. We hadn’t been behind all year."
Greenwood responded when Saul Palmer scooped up a second onside kick and returned the ball to the Eagles’ 15. Two plays later, Smith hit Morgan with an easy slant to put the Bulldogs on the scoreboard.
Smith and Morgan were just getting warmed up. Morgan caught seven passes for 132 yards and three touchdowns.
"It was a little frustrating," Smith said of Vilonia’s hot start. "We kept our heads up. We have to trust that our offense will get it going."
After forcing Vilonia to punt on its next series, Greenwood drove 52 yards for the go-ahead score. Smith methodically picked apart the Eagles’ secondary before hitting Morgan with another quick slant to make it 14-9 with 24 seconds left to play in the first quarter.
Greenwood drove 56 yards on its next series, with Smith capping the six-play drive by hitting Morgan with a 28-yard TD strike with 8:52 left in the first half.
Sunde put the game out of reach later in the first half when the shifty Bulldogs’ back took a handoff 90 yards for a touchdown with 25 seconds left to play in the half.
The Bulldogs extended the lead to 35-9 early in the third quarter on Smith’s 19-yard touchdown pass to Zach Thornton. Greenwood then invoked the mercy rule when Adam McFain kicked a 27-yard field goal and Smith dashed 14 yards for a touchdown in the first minute of the fourth quarter.
Sunde led the Bulldogs with 118 yards rushing on just nine carries.
Greenwood is now 26-2 at home under Jones and hasn’t lost a home game since losing to Harrison in 2006.