The tears are gone, but the pain still lingers.
The Greenwood Bulldogs were left this weekend to pick up the pieces for an incredible season that once again ended just short of a state championship appearance.
The Bulldogs rolled into Corinth Friday riding a 13-0 record and sporting the stingiest defense in the Class 4A ranks, but the Warriors rolled up 400 rushing yards and took advantage of four GHS turnovers en route to a 31-14 victory in the North 4A title game.
For the fourth time in six years, Greenwood saw its season end in the North 4A final.
But this was supposed to be the year the Bulldogs went all the way after never trailing in their first 13 games. However, Corinth had a different idea.
“I didn’t see that coming,” said a dejected Clinton Gatewood, in his 10th season as head coach at GHS. “I hate we waited to play our worst game of the year on the biggest stage. I feel like I let my guys down.”
Since last season’s playoff loss to Greenwood in the third round, coach Todd Lowery and the Corinth football team have adopted “Unfinished Business” as their team motto. And that’s what the Warriors got with a defensive domination of a Bulldog offense that was held to a season-low in points and that came in averaging 38 points and 214 passing yards per game.
Corinth (13-1) faces Poplarville (9-5) in the 4A championship on Saturday at 11 a.m. at M.M. Roberts Stadium at Southern Miss.
It will be Corinth’s first state championship appearance since 2001.
“I have a bunch of guys that are hungry and have been overlooked and overpicked. I think tonight’s when they opened that up. They wanted to prove it to everybody,” Lowery said after the GHS win.
Despite Greenwood’s big numbers on the offensive side of the ball, the Corinth defense didn’t allow much at all, even after taking a lead in the first quarter.
D.T. Sheffield accounted for two touchdowns in the first quarter, a one-yard rush and a 40-yard pass to Cayden Betts, to put Corinth up 14-0 and forced the Bulldogs to try to pass.
That didn’t work as Greenwood quarterback DeAndre Smith finished only 7 of 20 passing for 93 yards and an interception. He also had two second-half fumbles, which resulted in Corinth’s last two touchdowns that put the game away.
Following two fumbles, Nazarius Jones and Tam Patterson each punched in short touchdowns to put Corinth up 31-14 in the closing minutes.
The turning point came with Corinth clinging to a 17-14 lead when Carter Bonds forced a fumble and came up with the ball on the Greenwood 43-yard line. Corinth then scored in five plays, all rushing, to go up 24-14 with 4:49 left in the game.
Sheffield finished with 12 carries for 119 yards and a TD. He was 4 of 6 passing for 45 yards and a touchdown.
• Contact Bill Burrus at 581-7237 or firstname.lastname@example.org.