Octavious Morgan scored on a 2-yard run in overtime as Greenwood won the Class 4A Division II state championship with a 31-24 victory over Northwestern on Saturday.
Morgan scored on fourth down for the Eagles (15-0) on the opening possession in overtime. Northwestern was unable to move the ball when it took over at the 10-yard line and its fourth-down pass fell incomplete.
Evin Sims rushed for 106 yards and two touchdowns and Morgan added 85 yards and two scores as Greenwood won its first state championship since 2006. It lost in the finals the past two years
Northwestern’s Mason Rudolph completed 24 of 37 passes for 206 yards and a touchdown.
The Eagles held the ball 38 minutes and 14 seconds. The Trojans (12-3) had it 21:46. But the Trojans made the best of their last chance in regulation.
Greenwood started a 20-play, 97-yard drive late in the third quarter that spilled into the fourth. It was a 20-play drive that took 10:17. It ended on a 9-yard run by Sims. Greenwood led 24-16 after Matt McManis kicked the extra point.
The Trojans had 4:05 left. Rudolph drove his team down the field and the Trojans scored on his 7-yard toss to DuPree Hart in the front right corner of the end zone.
With a minute left, Northwestern called consecutive timeouts. Then tailback LaThomas Long converted the two-point conversion with a 3-yard run.
Greenwood ran out the clock and gambled on winning in overtime.
“Yes, there are times when we’ve let Evin zing the ball down the field, but he’s not 100 percent and we didn’t try it,’’ Greenwood coach Gene Cathcart said.
Northwestern won the overtime coin toss and decided to go on defense first and see what Greenwood could do with four shots from the 10.
Greenwood ran the ball, doing what they had done all day and caught Northwestern by surprise with its double-wing set.
The Eagles were at the Trojans’ 2 on fourth down. Cathcart shrugged off the field goal and decided to go for it. The pitch went to Morgan, who ran through right tackle for the score.
“I’ll tell you it’s true that if we had the ball second and had to score to stay in he game, we would have gone for the 2-point conversion,’’ Cathcart said. “If you have a chance to win, you should go for it.’’
The Trojans, too, had a fourth-down play, this one from the 4. The game ended when Rudolph, under pressure for the last time in his high school career, threw the ball behind his receiver in the end zone.
“I played terrible today,’’ Rudolph said. “I can’t say what it was but I think it came down to a lack of execution on my part. I couldn’t get us moving.’’
Rudolph was intercepted twice, one setting up an Eagles’ touchdown.
“I told our kids they had to play four quarters to win today,’’ Northwestern coach Kyle Richardson said. “That 97-yard drive they had hurt us. But we have some good players coming back next year and we have to get them ready.’’
Greenwood’s 15-0 finish is the first in school history. Northwestern beat Greenwood in the 2010 championship game.
“People just don’t understand that Greenwood has as much tradition as Northwestern,’’ Cathcart said. “We’ve won championships. ...”
“What I’m getting at is that it’s good for two teams like us to play for a state championship.’’