NEWVILLE >> Big Spring did everything it could to take down Greencastle-Antrim.
After leading 21-3 at halftime, most of the people in the stands expected the Blue Devils to roll through the second half of Friday night's Mid Penn Colonial Division match. But the Bulldogs didn't go down without a fight.
They capped off an eight-minute drive with a touchdown by third-string quarterback Ethan Lee before tacking on two more scores in the fourth quarter. But Greencastle held onto the ball for the final 6:19 of the game and pulled out a 29-23 victory.
"It looked like our defense got a little bit tired," Blue Devil coach Chuck Tinninis said. "We had some mistackles there, but we persevered. There were two very questionable calls, but to get that many calls against us at the end and for us to hang on to the ball and get first downs, that says something about our kids and I'm proud of them."
Greencastle (4-0, 1-0 MPC) had a pair of personal fouls called against them in their final drive and finished with nine penalties totaling 83 yards.
In the first half, though, the Blue Devils looked unstoppable. Liam Okal got the scoring started with a pick-six that he read beautifully and took to the house for a 90-yard score. Greencastle tacked on a pair of offensive touchdowns and held Big Spring (2-2, 0-1 MPC) to just 50 yards of total offense, 38 of which came on a single passing play.
But that all turned around in the second half.
The teams traded punts to start the third quarter, then Big Spring took over at its own 30-yard line. Fifteen plays and nearly eight minutes later, Lee swept around the right side for a five-yard touchdown. No play in the drive gained more than 10 yards.
"We knew their offense was explosive, so we wanted to keep them off the field," Big Spring coach Cory Hoffman said. "We needed to be able to chunk it down the field and eat some clock. That didn't work for us in the first half, but later, we got a couple more guys on the blocks, got four or five first downs in a row and that's what we were looking for all game."
Tinninis said, "That was a good drive by them, I gotta give them credit. It looked like they wore us down a little because they scored on the next drive, too. There in the second half, it started to look like whoever had the ball last was going to win."
G-A got the insurance it desperately needed a few minutes into the fourth quarter. After a holding penalty brought back a touchdown, Spencer Meyers found Tyler Jeffreys deep in the end zone with a 21-yard scoring pass.
Fullback James Hines was the definition of a workhorse for the Blue Devils. He finished with 97 yards on 18 carries and had one touchdown. He also got a key first down in the final minute of the game when he literally dragged a plethora of defenders with him past the sticks.
"Hey, I just gotta keep my legs moving," Hines said. "I had my line pushing me along, and I wasn't gonna stop. The short-run yardage, that's me. And the way their defense was set up, it was hard to get the corner. But they left big gaps in the middle, so it makes it easier for us to run bellys and guts."
Tinninis said, "Jimmy is a warrior. He gets it done. They were taking away some things – (Demetrius) Burton couldn't get on track tonight. It seemed like they were kind of keying in on him, so Jimmy just took over."
Greencastle 29, Big Spring 23
GA — Liam Okal 90 interception return (Austyn Smith kick), 3:47
GA — James Hines 7 run (Smith kick), 6:37
BS — Noah Keiter 40 field goal, 3:43
GA — Tyler Jeffreys 12 pass from Spencer Meyers (Smith kick), 0:04
BS — Ethan Lee 5 run (Keiter kick), 1:40
GA — Jeffreys 21 pass from Meyers (Derek Measell pass from Matthew Christman), 9:35
BS — Triston Cooper 41 run (pass failed)
BS — Lee 27 run (Keiter kick), 6:19
GABSFirst downs2211Rushes-yards44-20636-161Passing9-17-03-9-1Passing yards10357Total yards309218Punts3-34.33-41.3Fumbles-lost4-20-0Penalties-yards9-834-38
Rushing — GA, Hines 17-97, Demetrius Burton 12-45, Measell 6-33, Meyers 6-17, Kyrin Zimmerman 1-13, Bailey Parker 1-1. BS, Cooper 8-61, Lee 13-54, Tristan Robb 9-28, Ryan Adams 6-18.
Passing — GA, Meyers 8-14-103-0. BS, Lee 3-9-57-1.
Receiving — GA, Measell 4-30, Jeffreys 2-33, Parker 1-28, Burton 1-9, Brae Peck 1-6. BS, Adams 2-57, Robb 1-0.
Interceptions — GA, Okal.