The Greenville Lions were firing on all cylinders as they crushed Forney 51-3 on Friday night in the home finale to earn their first football playoff berth since 2003.
Miles Denson ran for one touchdown and caught three touchdown passes and the Lions’ defense scored twice on turnovers as the Lions improved to 6-3 for the season and 5-2 in District 8-5A-II play. “That was a good win all the way around, where everything was clicking,” said Lions coach Darren Duke. “The focus was real good. They came out and executed. Dominated them.”
The Lions moved up into a tie with Royse City for third place in the district at 5-2 after North Forney outscored Royse City 49-39. Ennis at 7-0 and Corsicana at 6-2 have locked up two playoff berths. So have the Lions even if they lose their next game at Ennis.
“We’re in,” said Duke. “There’s no way that they can get us by points. Royse City’s on the hot seat.”
North Forney, which has lost 49-38 to Greenville, stayed in the playoff hunt at 4-3 with its victory over Royse City. Royse City, which beat Greenville 17-14 earlier in the season, has to beat Terrell to make the playoffs. If Royse City, Greenville and North Forney were to tie for third place, the Lions and North Forney would advance to the playoffs because of a tiebreaking system, said Duke. Only four of the nine teams in 8-5A-II will advance to the playoffs.
“We’re at plus-eight,” he said of the tiebreaking system because Greenville beat North Forney by 11 and lost by three to Royse City. “There was no way for anybody to catch us in points.”
North Forney is at minus one in points and Royse City is at minus seven, going by point margins in head to head play of Greenville, North Forney and Royse City.
Greenville took care of business early, rolling up leads of 21-0 after one quarter, 38-0 at halftime and 44-0 early in the third quarter.
Denson turned in the biggest game of his two-year varsity career for the Lions, running for a 51-yard touchdown and then catching touchdown passes of 61 and 9 yards from Brandon Stephens and a 28-yarder from Josh Luna after Luna received a lateral from Stephens. Denson’s 61-yard run and catch was a work of art as he dashed down the sidelines, cut back, stopped, started again and ran through a couple of would-be tacklers before diving into the end zone. Denson also did some tough running on the 9-yard TD catch before diving into the end zone.
The Lions’ big-play man on defense, Tyrecus Davis, intercepted two passes, returning one of them 68 yards for a touchdown.
“That Tyrecus, he’s around the ball and just makes athletic plays all the time,” said Duke.
Davis returned an interception and a kickoff for touchdowns in the Lions’ 25-13 win over Sulphur Springs last week.
Defensive end Jeremiah Abrego also returned a fumble 33 yards for a touchdown. Teammate DeGarrious Ford caused the fumble with his hit on a Forney runner.
Lions’ placekicker Zach Allen was 6-of-7 on extra points, booted an 18-yard field goal and also made a tackle on a kickoff return.
Running back Lester Turner also ran for 90 yards on 15 carries, scoring on a 41-yard touchdown. He upped his team-high rushing total for the season to 924 yards.
“That was some hard running by Miles and Lester,” said Duke.
Stephens went 7-of-9 passing for 133 yards and ran for 33 yards on 11 carries.
Forney, held to just 62 yards and three first downs in the first half by the Lions’ hustling defense, scored its only points in the third quarter on a 29-yard field goal by Colby Ortega that capped 14-play drive from the Jackrabbits’ 29 to the Lion 12-yard line that ate up nearly eight minutes on the clock.
Forney, which was already out of the playoff running, dropped to 2-7 for the season and 1-6 in district play. The Jackrabbits beat Greenville 49-39 last year after rolling up a 28-0 lead in the first quarter.
After the announcement that the Lions had clinched a playoff spot, Duke was chased down by some Lions before receiving the traditional dousing from a water cooler.
“I saw where Miles had the cooler,” said Duke. “I knew I couldn’t outrun him.”