Nov. 4—PEASTER — For the second time in program history, the Peaster Greyhounds football team is marching into the postseason.
After a 38-7 road loss to the Paradise Panthers on Friday, Oct. 13, the Greyhounds had a 1-6 overall record and were still searching for their first district win. In the face of adversity, Peaster rallied to win its last three district games of the season to punch their ticket to the playoffs.
On Friday night, the 'Hounds overcame a 14-10 halftime deficit with a big second half to defeat the Boyd Yellowjackets by a final score of 43-28.
"I'm excited for the town of Peaster in general and also for these seniors," Owens said. "The seniors got kind of the short end of the stick with me coming in late June and we had to scramble just to get guys hired — there was a huge turnover right here at the end. I told the seniors that they got the short end of the stick there, but that we all needed to buy in, which goes with our motto for this year, 'all in.' They truly bought into it. They had every excuse to turn it in with all the tough teams we played early in the year, but we fought our butts off to win these last three games of the season knowing that we would make the playoffs if we took care of business. I give all the credit to the seniors for keeping this team together — they never wavered. It's exciting for Peaster knowing it's the second time in history to make the playoffs."
Peaster got a big night on the ground from senior Lafe Bringman, who scored three touchdowns in the second half. His first second-half score came at the 11:12 mark in the third quarter, when his 5-yard scamper gave the 'Hounds a 17-14 lead. After the Peaster defense forced a turnover on downs, the Greyhounds offense took over on the Boyd 46 yard line. From there, Peaster drove the ball into the red zone and eventually came away with three points after sophomore kicker Cade McCullough split the uprights on a 37-yard field goal with 6:33 left in the third.
After building a six-point lead, Boyd was able to march down the field and scored a short touchdown that was set up by a long passing play as the visitors took a 21-20 lead with 4:09 remaining in the third. However, Bringman found the end zone again on the ensuing Peaster drive. This time, he scored from three yards out just before the third quarter expired to put the home team on top, 27-21.
"Offensively, we just kind of changed some personnel," Peaster head coach Trevor Owens said. "We were loading the box and they (Boyd) were loading the box, too, so we just tried to spread them out a little bit so we could run the ball a little bit better. Defensively, we tried to make some adjustments, but they still were able to score a couple of touchdowns — they have some of the best receivers in the district. I think the biggest adjustment we made was our kickoff being better. In the first half, they started inside our 40 yard line three times and, in the second half, we were able to boot some kicks to the end zone and we recovered a pooch kick, which was just a good play by our upback. Our kickoff team just played better and helped us win the field-position game."
In the fourth quarter, the special teams unit took over. Peaster junior Xavier Wilson blocked a Boyd punt that was recovered by sophomore Rhett Kelley at the Yellowjackets 9 with 10:18 left in regulation. Then, Bringman scored on the very next play as Peaster's lead grew to 34-21 with 10:13 remaining in regulation.
Boyd managed to pull within 34-28 after scoring on fourth-and-goal with 8:18 to go in the fourth, but McCullough drilled a 28-yard field goal on the Greyhounds' next drive to extend the lead to 37-28 with 2:46 left. Following the field goal, he booted a pooch kick that was alertly recovered by the 'Hounds that put them on the Boyd 44 with 2:45 left. A few plays later, senior Cannon Kelley delivered the dagger with a 25-yard touchdown run that put the game out of reach at 43-28 with 2:08 remaining.
"We executed on all of our field goals — made all three of our field goal tries — and those nine points were huge in this game," Owens said. "Our special teams throughout the year has probably been our biggest improvement, which comes with the new schemes we've implemented on offense and defense. From the first four games of the season to now, it's crazy how much better we've gotten. We've got a weapon as a kicker in Cade McCullough that allows us to put the ball all over the place. That unit has helped both stay in and win games. Our special teams coordinator Coach (Joshua) Kirton does a hell of a job — he puts in the work and time each Saturday and Sunday to help us prepare."
The Greyhounds (4-6, 3-3) will face off against the Clyde Bulldogs in the bi-district round.