For the second time, this season Greensville County and Nottoway went toe to toe in a 48-minute slugfest that was not decided until the final gun sounded. The Eagles avenged a 6-0, Sept. 10 defeat, outlasting the Cougars 36-28 Friday to advance to the 2A Region A semifinal round.
“This feels really good,” Greensville County quarterback Jayden White said. “It was tough. It was a battle, but we got a little revenge tonight.”
A battle, indeed.
Twice Greensville County (8-3) watched two-score leads disappear only to fall behind. Twice, the Eagles battled back to retake the lead.
Nottoway (7-4) moved in front one final time with 8:40 left in the contest when senior running back Jordan Hurte plowed his way into the end zone from 10 yards out. It was the second Cougar score in four minutes, which turned a 24-15 deficit into a 28-24 lead.
Just when it appeared the field was tilting in Nottoway’s direction, Greensville’s Rahzel Kindred flipped the momentum with a great return on the ensuing Nottoway kick-off. Kindred fielded a short kick at his own 30 and sprinted 43 yards to the 27 of the Cougars. Sophomore running back, Kendel Blue covered the 27 yards in two plays, capped by a 10-yard scoring run with 8:07 left in the game.
The Cougars drove to the Greensville 37 on their next drive, but the green and gold forced a turnover on a Domanick Pettis fumble with 5:09 left in the game. It was the second fumble recovered by the Eagles in the contest. Senior linebacker Keimon Harding recovered a fumble earlier and wreaked havoc on the Nottoway offense throughout the evening.
“We executed the things we worked on in practice,” he said. “We played hard — a little harder than they did, and that was the difference.”
Greensville’s next drive accomplished running time off the clock and putting another 6 on the scoreboard. Starting at its own 36, Greensville drove 64 yards in six plays to extend its advantage to 36-28 with 2:05 left in the game. White finished the drive with a 20-yard run, out-stepping the Nottoway defense to the right corner of the end zone.
“The defensive end bit down,” White said. “Once he did that, I thought I could beat them.”
White was correct on his belief, but for the sixth time in six tries, the Eagles failed to convert the 2-point conversion after a touchdown, and it kept the Cougars within a touchdown and 2-point conversion of forcing overtime.
With 1:57 left the game, Nottoway started its next drive on its own 31. Four consecutive Tyler Banks’ incomplete passes gave the Eagles the ball at the Nottoway 31.
White took a knee on three straight plays, forcing Nottoway to use its final two timeouts, but the Cougars would get one more opportunity taking over at their own 35 with 35 seconds left in the contest.
The Greensville defense forced a turnover on downs in four plays to put the game on ice.
In the first half, the teams appeared to be destined for another defensive struggle. The battle was scoreless when the Eagles started their second possession of the game at their own 26 yard line with 2:32 left in the first quarter.
Greensville began to find some cracks in the Nottoway defense, marching 74 yards in seven plays to move in front on a nine-yard Blue run with 11:51 remaining in the first half.
Nottoway was unable to answer but appeared to have Greensville on the ropes when great punt coverage pinned the Eagles on their own one. White gave his team a little more room with a three-yard run. Blue did more than change the field position on the next play. On a simple dive play, Blue found a crease, turned on the jets, and didn’t stop until he crossed the goal line with a 96-yard run. Greensville’s 12-0 lead with 8:17 left in the first half quickly dissipated.
Hurte scored the first of his four touchdowns for Nottoway with a one-yard plunge with 5:17 left in the second quarter. Later in the quarter the Nottoway punt team again pinned Greensville at its one.
There would be no 96-yard run this time. Therman Oliver recovered a Leonidas Thornhill fumble on the Greensville one. Hurte scored on the next play to put Nottoway in front 15-12.
The Eagles received the ball to begin the second half and found success through the air. Four running plays were stuffed by the Cougars, but White completed three passes to Zykeem Fields. The junior gained 18, 14 and 33 yards on the White tosses. The third catch ended up a touchdown with 9:14 left in the third quarter to put the Eagles in front 18-15.
Greensville extended the advantage to 24-15 with 4:14 left in the third quarter on a 15-yard Blue run. Blue scored four touchdowns and led a potent Eagle ground attack with 24 carries for 212 yards. As a team, Greensville ran the ball 42 times for 265 yards.
Nottoway was successful on the ground with 40 carries for 214 yards. Pettis led the way with 74 yards on only three carries.
The one advantage that stood out for Greensville was its passing game. White (7-11) threw for 115 yards and a score. Fields caught four of the passes for 68 yards and a touchdown. Nottoway’s Banks connected on four of 15 attempts for 14 yards.
Greensville will play at 7 p.m. Friday against top-seeded Thomas Jefferson at Huguenot High School with a chance to avenge an early-season loss.
The Vikings defeated Brunswick 49-12 Friday. Thomas Jefferson defeated Greensville in non-district action 67-14 on Sept. 20 in Emporia.